News Business & Policy Link Between Meat and Deforestation Revealed in Short Animated Film 'There's a Monster in My Kitchen' implores people to stop buying industrially-produced meat. By Katherine Martinko Senior Writer University of Toronto Katherine Martinko is a writer and expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Katherine Martinko Published October 26, 2020 10:50AM EDT A scene from "There's a Monster in My Kitchen". Greenpeace (used with permission) Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices Late one night, a little boy goes downstairs to his kitchen. While looking for a snack in the fridge, he senses a large animal behind him. It turns out to be a jaguar that's highly agitated, pacing the room and recoiling from the sight of bones leftover from an earlier meal. Once he realizes the jaguar is not a threat, the boy is able to interact – and learn the distressing message that the jaguar has come to deliver. This is the main plotline of a short new animated film released by Greenpeace. Its goal is to educate people about the rampant deforestation that's happening in places like the Amazon rainforest, and how it's driven by demand for industrially-raised meat. The forest is clearcut and burned to make way for cattle grazing and to grow soy for cattle to eat in feedlots. The extent of the damage is colossal. So far in 2020, an estimated 3.5 million hectares of the Amazon have been burned. The situation is worse this year because of a prolonged drought, attributed to warming in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean, which is "pulling moisture away from South America" (via The Guardian). Even the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland that's located mostly in Brazil (but also partially in Bolivia and Paraguay), has had more fires this year than ever recorded. A jaguar emerges from the rainforest in the film. Greenpeace (used with permission) The Guardian reports, "A Federal University of Rio de Janeiro analysis found that 23% of the wetlands, which are home to the densest population of jaguars in the world, has burned." Other research suggests that jaguars have lost 38% of their natural habitat and are now "near threatened," according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Hence this timely film, which is meant to help viewers understand that their daily dietary choices have an impact on wonderful exotic animals like jaguars. (It's a sequel to Greenpeace's enormously successful "Rang Tan" film that alerted viewers to the link between palm oil and orangutan habitat destruction.) Eating industrially-raised meat drives demand for a food production system that is devastating the planet in countless ways. From the extensive deforestation and the release of carbon into the atmosphere, to the illegal land-grabbing and harming of Indigenous ways of life, to the decimation of countless species through habitat destruction and exposure to toxic pesticides – not to mention increasing risk of novel viruses coming into contact with human populations – it's a system that cannot continue if we hope to have a clean, healthy planet to live on. The animated jaguar tells the little boy, "There’s a monster in my forest and I don’t know what to do / It turned my home to ash to instead grow something new / Feed for chickens, pigs and cows to sell more meat to you / As our forests disappeared, their evil empire grew / They think they are unstoppable but we pray this isn’t true / The real cost of what they’re doing, if only the whole world knew." A scene from "There's a Monster in My Kitchen". Greenpeace (used with permission) The solution, of course, is to stop eating meat, or start eating less of it, while swapping the industrially-raised meat for higher-quality meat raised ethically by local farmers. Adding plant-based alternatives like tofu and beans to one's diet can help tremendously, too. It requires taking a stand against fast food restaurants and supermarkets that do business with huge meat-packing corporations whose products are linked to deforestation, and encouraging governments not to sign trade deals that would boost questionable meat imports from countries like Brazil. (Looking at you, Canada.) The first step is building awareness, and this film can do precisely that. Share it with friends, family, and children to start a conversation that's desperately needed at this point in time.