Are Your Plant-Based Foods Killing Wildlife?

By Published On: 9 August 2011Last Updated: 17 January 2017

Wild boars have been found dead along France's Brittany coast- 31 of them. The cause: extremely high levels of algae due to nitrates and fertilizer runoffs from farms.

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Wild boars have been found dead along France’s Brittany coast- 31 of them.  The cause: extremely high levels of algae due to nitrates and fertilizer runoffs from farms. In this case, this runoff is may likely be due to livestock production as Brittany is the biggest livestock region in France.  But the problem of fertilizer use and abuse is also endemic in the world’s plant-based food supply system.  Do you eat bread, burritos, meat analogues, salads from restaurants, cereal, cookies, fruit?  Is it always 100% certifiably organic?  Conventionally grown foods almost always involve some serious fertilization.

What happens after algae in bodies of water come in contact with these fertilizers is a swell thing for the algae.  They thrive. The algae become fertilized- shocking, right?  After all, they are plants.  They feed off the nitrogen from the nitrate rich fertilizers and deplete the oxygen in the water. Then, animals die from lack of oxygen.

On the shoreline in Brittany, the overgrown algae washes on the beach and begins to decompose.  Toxic gases are given off which, when breathed in by animals, suffocates.  This has happened to a cleanup worker, a dog, horse, and now wild boars.

This same phenomenon happens all the time in the US.  We’ve all heard stories of massive fish kills in rivers and lakes all across the country.

How is a vegan to respond to the issue of conventional plant-based foods polluting the environment with nitrates and fertilizers?  How is one to respond to the issue of using manure from livestock production to fertilize organic crops?  I’m not entirely sure myself.  But I do know the answer is not to do nothing.  We can start by making people aware of what’s going on.  Then we can let companies know how we feel about the manner in which they grow and otherwise produce/source our food.  No task is insurmountable if you just do it.


  1. Ann LaGoy August 9, 2011 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    My hubby loves to garden, and he gardens organically. We compost our scraps. Not everyone has that option, and I’m grateful for it. Good years I freeze and can, but bad years we buy at the store, and local markets. These are good questions you raise.
    I’m also reading a bit on vegan dog food. Frank doesn’t even see the train coming.

  2. SB August 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    We need to start pushing for vegan-organic farming. But, in the end, we have to push for sustainable practices, such as by following the principles of permaculture.

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HELLO! I'm KD Angle-Traegner.

Writer, activist, and founder of Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. I’m on a mission to help people live a vegan life. Read more about KD…