Takeout Documentary (2020) - full transcript

The Amazon Jungle,

the largest tropical
rainforest in the world,

is burning.

The forest contains ten percent
of the planet's biodiversity

and plays a crucial role
in global climate stability.

Over 20% of the forest
has already been lost

and projections show
that at this rate,

there won't be much left
by the turn of the century.

In 2019, the Amazon experienced

a devastating
and unprecedented fire season,

with over 40,000 reported fires

and 3500 square miles
of forest lost.

It's estimated that an area the
size of a soccer field and a half

is lost every minute.

Our team, led by award-winning
filmmaker Michal Siewierski,

decided to embark on
an investigative journey

to uncover
the real reasons behind

the catastrophic destruction
of the Amazon forest.

We're already
seeing consequences

of deforestation
and climate change.

In South America,
there are almost double the rate

of fires that
there were historically.

You know,
everybody's aware

that there is
environmental damage happening.

People know that the,
the Amazon is being lost,

but I don't think that most people
really connect it to what's on their fork

at that particular moment,
and that's what's got to happen.

People have to
realize we've got a choice.

We can choose to save the Amazon

or we can choose
to lose it forever.

The choice is
right here on our plate.

Many people don't understand
that when they eat meat

in Los Angeles,
California, or New York,

that meat could
have been the result

of deforestation in Brazil.

Stop anyone on the street
and ask them,

why are the rainforests
being cut down?

Some of the slightly more aware
people might say palm oil,

but most people would say like,
"Oh, because of wood for houses."

And they would have no idea
that there's a connection

between animal agriculture
and deforestation.

And it's
all wrapped up in that burger

and for them to sell it
at $2.95 is, is a bargain.

That's our future. That's the,
that's the rainforest.

That's our soil, that's the air, that's
where your children are going to be growing

their food in the future.
That's really what we're eating.

The connection from the
destruction of the rainforest

to grow soy, to feed animals,

to your burger on the table or your steak
on the table, it's not easy to track.

When we talk about soy, people should
be clear, we are not talking about tofu.

We're talking about
a crop that is grown

primarily for animal feed.

About 70% of soy
is grown for animal feed,

as well as other non-direct
food uses like biodiesel.

When we say soy, we really
are talking about meat.

So, the soy that
is grown in the Amazon

primarily goes to the European
and American markets.

They ship the soy overseas,

put them in these
giant machines called crushers,

and turn them
into feed for livestock

and then that's used to
produce beef to feed people.

And that's what we buy when, you
know, you go to fast food chains.

You're basically, in some ways,

eating soy that
was grown in the Amazon

or other parts of South America.

has been used by people

for thousands of years as a way

to clear large forested areas.

But why, in this day and age,

are modern farmers still using

this devastating
and unsustainable practice?

People are burning
the forest to plant soy

because it's
the easiest way to do it.

You can go into an area
that has been undeveloped,

cut it down, burn it, grow soy
and sell it to companies.

Large international corporations

will give you
the funds to do it.

So, when a forest
in the Amazon is

cut and burned, it puts a lot
of nutrients into the soil.

Once the forest is burned down,
you can grow soy in it,

you might be able
to get a crop or two,

but eventually
it's just going to dry out.

Uh, tropical rainforests
aren't, uh, made

to continuously
grow crops in that way.

They generally
will burn the forest,

grow something,
and then move on.

When you have
an entire economic system

that is based on
destroying the rainforest

and selling it to consumers,

it's going to
take some real agitation

in order to change that.

Global warming
is a controversial topic,

but many scientists
believe that deforestation

plays an important role
in the process.

Fewer forests means more greenhouse
gases entering the atmosphere,

which in turn increases
the severity of climate change.

In the Amazon in particular,

and, and other rainforests
as well,

once you cut down
the existing vegetation,

it's not going
to grow back into a rainforest,

it's going to turn into
a much drier type of ecosystem,

a non-native ecosystem,

and that's going
to be extremely prone to fire

as well as the fact
that all of that carbon

that had previously
been stored in that forest

has now been
released into the atmosphere.

It seems like
climate change,

people are slowly
starting to take it seriously

and one of the ways
to fight climate change

is through carbon sequestration.
Oceans and the rainforests

are the best places
for carbon sequestration.

So, rather than
the tropical rainforest serving

as a carbon sink that keeps
carbon out of the atmosphere

and helps mitigate
against global warming,

when you cut it down
and burn it,

you're sending
all of that carbon out

and you're, you're causing
a major emission

of greenhouse gases in a system that
should be trapping greenhouse gases.

And that has to do, also, with the amount
of emissions that the cattle produce,

mainly in the amount of methane.

What we have noticed
with the deforestation,

there was actually a change
in the soil microbial community

that also produce
methane or consume methane.

And what we found
is that actually the,

the methane consumers,

is a bacteria that use methane
as their source of carbon.

They are actually significantly
reduced in the soil.

And so suggesting there is
going to be less methane uptake

once the deforestation
has happened.

We actually can significantly
reduce our overall emissions

by eating less meat
or eating no meat whatsoever.

Meat is responsible
for more

climate pollution than
all the cars, ships, trucks,

and planes in the world,

This is a really big issue,

and it doesn't
get enough attention.

Deforestation alone, uh,
accounts for something

around 15% of total
global warming pollution,

and yet it gets just two percent of the
funding to address the climate crisis.

I was flying
from Argentina to New York,

and we were flying over the rainforest
and it was the middle of the night

and I looked at a map,

you know, the little sky map,

and we were
flying over the jungle,

and I looked out the window and
there were just lights everywhere

and I was trying to figure out
what city we were flying over.

I was like, "Are we
flying over Brasilia?"

Because there was, like,
lights to the horizon,

and I realized they weren't
city lights, they were fires.

And it was everywhere I looked,

there were fires just
burning and burning and burning,

but in lines,
so it was all deforestation.

And just the immensity of that
struck me.

Deforestation also affects

the over two million people
that live in

and depend on
the forest for food and shelter.

To this day,
indigenous populations in Brazil

and other countries
in South America

are still being
kicked out of their lands,

even though
these are public areas

under federal jurisdiction
and protected by law.

In 2018, 135 Indians
were murdered in Brazil

and there have been
over 1,000 registered cases

of violence,
abuse, death threats,

and rape of indigenous people.

The genocide of Indians
in Brazil started 500 years ago

when the country
was first colonized

and it still occurs to this day.

So, there has been very
strong laws in Brazil of late

for the protection
of indigenous territory

that's been identified as
being the traditional territory

and the occupied territory
of indigenous people.

There is a great fear that
as of the most recent election,

uh, the president of Brazil
has pledged

that he's going
to remove that protection.

One of the crazier things
we heard

from President Bolsonaro
was that he said

he wished that
the Brazilian cavalry

had been as effective
as the American cavalry

and eliminated
more native populations.

The attitude is we want to
get native peoples off the land

so we can bring
in cattle and soy,

which is what progress is.

I mean, to me, I,
I don't see progress

as converting, uh,
an ancient ecosystem

that provides life
to the whole planet

to a monoculture that
just serves big businesses

as a positive
or as a sign of civilization.

To the contrary, I mean, this is
an abuse that we don't need.

Rainforests provide habitat

to over 80% of plants
and animals living on land,

but deforestation
destroys their habitats

and diminishes biodiversity.

Scientists estimate
that 4,000 to 6,000 species

go extinct every year
due to deforestation alone.

The rainforests
are largely

what make this earth
habitable for us.

Rainforests are
one of the most

biologically diverse
ecosystems in the world,

which means that
there's a lot of animals

that live there and only
there in very unique places

and, you know, that... that's where they
live and they can't live anywhere else,

and when you cut the forest down, the animals
are gone. They've got nowhere to go.

This might sound sort of like a hippie
would say this, but it's actual science,

is our earth is a system,
and nothing exists in isolation.

All life relies on other life

and it relies on
the sustainability

and health of other ecosystems.

And as humans, we have
this pride in the stupidity

that makes us think that
we can destroy part of the world

and not affect us, and what we're
realizing now is that's not the case.

When you destroy the rainforest,
you're destroying yourself.

The Amazon
rainforest is considered by many

to be the largest
natural pharmacy in the world.

It's home to
an abundance of plants

renowned for
their medical properties

and it's estimated that
25% of all the drugs used today

are derived
from rainforest plants.

The protection of these
natural elements is fundamental

to maintaining this incredible
hot spot of biodiversity.

It's recognized
that the production of meat

plays a key role in
deforestation and climate change.

But in recent years,
meat consumption

has also been linked
to numerous chronic diseases.

In 2014,
the World Health Organization

classified processed meat
as a group one carcinogen,

the same category
given to cigarettes.

Red meat was
assigned to group 2A,

when it comes to cancer risk,

the same group
as the pesticide DDT.

Oh, as a physician,
I think one of the best things

people can do
for their health is reduce

their consumption of meat
or eliminate it altogether.

The scientific evidence
is becoming overwhelming

that the more animal muscle
that we consume,

the higher our risk of clogged
arteries and colon cancer

and a host of other diseases.

So, no, I think
the less meat we eat,

the healthier we're going to be.

Not only is meat consumption
linked to heart disease and to stroke,

but it's also linked to many of
the most common forms of cancer.

Probably the big standout
is colorectal cancer,

which is a huge killer
in the United States

and in many other countries.

It's the meat itself,

but it's also
the meat-cooking processes.

As meat is
headed up in the oven,

carcinogens form on the meat.

There's a link between meat
and Alzheimer's disease

that came as a huge surprise.

Starting in 1993,
researchers in Chicago

tracked what people were eating

and they tracked who
developed Alzheimer's disease

and who didn't and one of
the first things they discovered

was that the fat that is
predominant in meat, saturated fat,

could triple your risk
of getting Alzheimer's disease.

Now, the good news is,
if you're not eating it,

then your risk was cut hugely.

It's estimated
that if meat really sold

for what it honestly cost
to produce,

if the beef producers had to pay

for all the water
that irrigates the alfalfa,

that's government subsidized,

all the water that's polluted
from the slaughterhouse,

all the soil that runs off
the corn and soy bean fields,

all the pesticides and herbicides
that are sprayed on those grains

that wind up causing cancer,

if they had
to pay for the therapies

of the farm workers
spraying those chemicals.

This is unsustainable,

it's a spectacularly
expensive substance,

animal flesh these days.

Small family
farming operations

are often swimming in debt

while agribusiness
conglomerates are thriving.

But despite
not generating many jobs,

destroying the Amazon forest,
and polluting the environment,

big agribusiness receives
billions in tax subsidies,

while small
family farmers receive

on average ten times less
in incentives.

Those same small farms
are responsible

for producing 80% of the food
that feeds the planet.

Agribusiness only exists
because of tax subsidies.

You remove all
federal local subsidies

from the production
of animal agriculture,

a pound of beef would cost $100.

A gallon of milk would cost $75.

A family of four going
to McDonald's without subsidies

would spend $120 on their meal.

So our tax dollars
subsidize an industry

that's destroying our health

and destroying
the health of the planet

and if we speak up about it,

we risk being thrown in jail
and killed.

If we
produced and consumed

more plant products
instead of animal products,

this would mitigate much of

the human generated
greenhouse gas emission

and would provide a home
once again

for the countless
wild species displaced

due to animal agriculture
each year,

but reducing
the consumption of meat

often times
makes people concerned.

Will you get enough nutrients?

And what about protein?

The question often comes up is to
how much of a diet change do I need to make,

and my answer is any step
you make is a good step.

So, when people reduce
meat consumption, that's good.

That said, I have to say that when people
get it out of their lives completely,

they really get
their diet into high gear

and their, their health
improves dramatically,

but any step is a good step.

shocking and little-known fact

is that deforestation
increases the prevalence

of diseases all
around the world,

including malaria,
Zika, dengue fever, SARS,

Ebola, leptospirosis,
and many others

because deforestation
changes how and where

these animals
transmit these diseases.

Once their natural habitat

and ecosystem
balance becomes disrupted,

they end up getting closer to small
towns surrounding those areas,

increasing the chances of
transmitting diseases to humans.

Deforestation also affects

the quality of the air.

When tons of harmful
and toxic particles

are released into the atmosphere
during these fires,

the particles travel
by wind currents,

and end up affecting
not only the local populations,

but people
in the big cities as well.

Forests play
a key role in local water cycles

by helping to keep a balance between the water
on land and the water in the atmosphere.

But when deforestation
and degradation occur,

that balance can be thrown off,

resulting in changes in
precipitation and river flow,

which affect the climate both
locally and on a global scale.

You're seeing that all around
the world, the consequence of that

is not only
destruction to the ecosystems,

but actually, uh,
the entire Amazon basin

is having increasing difficulty
supporting agriculture.

It'll be difficult to
maintain the kind of agriculture

that we have now
in just 25 years.

Um, weirdly,
the agribusiness companies

that are financing deforestation
are also imperiling

their own ability
to operate in the long run.

There just won't be enough water

if you don't have
the forest to provide it.

The rainforest
has a lot of rain.

It's a very wet ecosystem

and that rain
and the water cycles through it.

When you cut the forest down,

you're allowing the sun
to penetrate to the ground,

to the vegetation and along
the edge it continues to dry out

and the more people move into the
forest, cutting away at the edges,

the more that that drying
penetrates into the forest.

The result of that has
been a real dramatic increase

of forest fires in areas

where there never
would have been fire.

They wouldn't
have been fire-prone

because of all
the moisture in the ecosystem.

the soil in the deforested areas

is usually poor in nutrients,

many farmers are forced
to use more resilient GMO crops

that can withstand
harsh conditions

and larger amounts
of pesticides,

but these excess pesticides
end up in the food chain.

The grain is fed to the cattle,

which are then eaten by humans.

Also, the pesticides
run off the fields

to the water beds and rivers,

creating a lot of pollution,

disturbing the ecosystems
and causing disease.

The overuse
of pesticide and fertilizer

is one of the main contaminants
for water pollution.

So, not only are these crops causing
forest loss and causing climate change,

they're also causing
a local water pollution crisis.

They are
cutting down the forest,

they're changing the ecosystem,

they're dumping
pesticides on the ground,

the ability of that land

to produce food
for the people around it.

of environmental activists

are killed every year
all over the world.

With the majority
being indigenous people,

the Amazon is one of the areas
with the most tension.

Last year, Brazil was
once again the deadliest country

for environmentalists
and despite efforts

by national environmental
agencies, justice is rare.

It's become increasingly
dangerous for people

on the ground in a lot
of these countries to resist.

It's become increasingly
dangerous for people on the ground

to expose what some
of these activities are

and I think that we have
a relative degree of safety

and freedom here and, and I think
that's why it's incumbent on us

to give voice to the people who, um, can't speak
for themselves in a lot of these counties.

Animal agriculture
is a huge industry

and a hugely powerful industry

and a hugely violent
and destructive industry.

Not just towards the animals,

not just
towards the environment,

but towards activists as well.

I mean,
activists have been killed

for standing up
to cattle ranchers.

But still like,
so many local legislatures

and so many politicians
essentially work for agribusiness.

Our team
went to the state of Bahia

to meet with Ernst Gotsch,

a Swiss farmer and researcher

that moved
to Brazil in the 1980s.

For the last 40 years,
Ernst has developed techniques

that combine
agricultural production

with forest regeneration.

By combining aggressive pruning

and innovative
agroforestry techniques,

Ernst showed the world
that degraded areas

can be regenerated
and that the forest

can be exploited
without being destroyed.

The set of principles
and techniques he developed

became globally known
as syntropic farming.

Its practical applications
can be seen

in several large farms
around the world

and on his own property
where he was able

to regenerate over
1,000 acres of degraded land.

On the other side of the
country, one of Ernst Gotsch's students

is following in his footsteps

and applying the same principles
in his own syntropic farm.

Jua Pereira,
a young biologist and farmer,

shared his thoughts on the
burning of the Amazon forest.

The tragedy of this
continued destruction

of the rainforest in Brazil

is that it
doesn't need to happen.

That food can be
developed in cleared land,

they don't need
to destroy more rainforest.

It's just a question
of doing what's right.

That might happen
because of government policy,

but it also can very well happen

because the public
is demanding it,

and the consumer
is demanding it as well.

We're talking about
very basic practice changes,

like growing crops on
previously deforested land

instead of burning down
new, uh, rainforest.

Putting cover crops when
there's not corn or soy growing.

Um, having buffer zones
next to waterways.

These are really basic,
affordable things

that often actually make farmers
more money in the long term.

agribusinesses in Brazil

are beginning to
transition to intensive farming,

which confines
the cattle into smaller areas

and results in less
native forest destruction,

but researchers warn
that intensive farming

comes with its
own set of problems.

I do think that
we, as a society,

need to dramatically
reduce our consumption of meat.

It's both good
for the planet and good for us,

but the big agribusinesses
have a role to play as well

and they should be engaging
in the basic good practices

to hang on to the forest
that we have left

and not to pollute
the already damaged waterways.

Our journey
took us to Tucson, Arizona,

home to Biosphere 2,
the largest simulated rainforest

research facility in the world.

Biosphere was perhaps best known

for two missions
conducted in the early 1990s,

in which crews were
sealed inside the enclosure

to study survivability.

Biosphere 2 is home to several

world-renowned scientists who
conduct controlled experiments

in order to study
complex environmental questions.

Biosphere 2 is
really a remarkable facility.

It offered a really unique

to look at how these
systems respond to changes

like carbon dioxide,
like moisture, like temperature,

and so that began
the shift for Biosphere 2

moving away from
having people live inside,

to moving to one as a large earth
environmental science laboratory.

Actually, the largest earth
environmental science laboratory.

It is impossible to think
that we'll ever recreate nature

as it occurs naturally outside

and all of its
intricacies and complexities,

and so Biosphere 2
is a test lab.

We can do things like
subject it to a drought,

we predict that the tropics are going
to continue to get warmer and drier,

well, what's that
mean for those systems?

I think the biggest lesson
so far to come out of Biosphere

is how little we truly understand
earth systems as a whole,

how those systems
are interconnected,

and how those
systems are impacted

by the changes that
we see coming their way.

We were able
to take our rainforest,

run it through
different levels of CO2

and look at how
its response compared

to those that
the model predicted.

And what we found
is that our system,

like that predicted for the
tropical areas in South America,

it saturated
at about the same level.

What happens when
we surpass this level?

Well, now it means
there's nothing out there

that is absorbing it
or taking the place

of those rainforests
and now rather than that CO2

going up at a particular pace,

now we've accelerated it

And so, what we
learn here potentially

has real world applications

and regardless
of how much we learn

or how much we think we know,

it's extremely important

to continue to maintain

that biological diversity
in those systems,

because we just don't understand
what the implications

of losing those systems
is going to be.

We have an idea, but I
don't think we fully comprehend.

And we all have an inherent
desire to survive and persist,

and if we're not able to
adapt to changes coming our way,

it often times means,

when species can't adapt,
you see them go extinct.

Despite the global
concern about the Amazon forest,

most people interested
in helping the cause

feel powerless
due to the distance,

and scale of the problem.

So what can we,
as regular citizens, do to help?

I think the challenge
that we face

is people may have great concern

about what's happening
in the Amazon or elsewhere,

but people don't know what
to do to act on this concern.

Look, at the individual level,

uh, I think there's
two big things people can do.

One, reduce the amount of
meat that people are eating.

Most people in the developed
world, uh, eat way too much meat

and it's not good for you and
it's not good for the planet.

But the other thing
that we can do

to drive change
on a systematic level

is for consumers
to go talk to the brands

that they patronize
about these issues.

Just sending an email
to the CEO of a big company

linked to deforestation
actually can get heard,

but, you know, what's even more
important is if you go on social media,

send them a message, if you
talk in person to the manager

of a fast food restaurant
or a supermarket chain,

that pretty soon starts to
make its way up the food chain

in the corporation
and they start to say,

"Hey, we're hearing about this,
we're worried that customers are leaving us

because of our connection
to climate pollution

and to deforestation
and going over to our competitor

who's doing more to deliver
sustainable products."

The only way corporations
become good corporate citizens

is when they're
held accountable by people.

Every corporation in the world,
for the most part,

will get away with
whatever they can get away with.

You know, their goal is to make
their product as cheaply as possible

and sell it for as much
as possible, you know,

to keep their shareholders
and their board happy.

They will engage in
the worst corporate practices

unless we hold them responsible.

I think what
we found over and over again

is that when consumers bring
urgency around these issues

to companies, they're
actually incredibly responsive.

These companies
value their brands

over any other asset
in their company,

so when that brand
is threatened,

when consumers start
to think about their brands

not as a wholesome snack
or meal,

but rather as a driver
of ecological destruction

and human rights abuse
on a vast scale,

that's going to threaten
the value of their company

and that causes
even the most cold-hearted

corporate executive
to sit up and pay attention.

We've also found that employees

of these companies
have outsized influence.

So, one of the strongest
voices for change

even in companies that
have done the most damage

is from their own employees.

People increasingly
want to work at companies

where they feel like they're doing
something good for the world.

Uh, that's true even
of the agribusiness giants,

of fast food chains,
of mainstream supermarkets.

In Brazil,
agribusiness is protected

by laws that support
the industry's actions,

but how is this possible?

The people in power
in South America

are often those
with ties to big agribusiness.

Many of the most powerful
politicians in Brazil's government

are connected
to the meat and dairy industries

and they create laws
for their own benefit.

This group of politicians

is called The Ruralista
Congressional Block.

We've seen tremendous environmental
rollbacks here in our country,

but sadly it doesn't really compare
to what's happening in Brazil.

Tragically, Brazil
made a huge amount of progress

on reducing deforestation
over the last decade.

Um, they cut deforestation
by more than 2/3

through both private sector
efforts and government action.

They improved
environmental enforcement,

they created both new national
parks and indigenous areas.

The big soy and cattle companies

actually took significant
efforts to reduce deforestation

in the Brazilian Amazon
that worked.

Unfortunately, due to issues
unrelated to the environment,

Brazil elected a man
who, in office,

has set about gutting
environmental protections.

I think the biggest
threat to the environment

that we've seen
from the Bolsonaro era so far

hasn't been any specific
policy change,

uh, instead he's given
farmers the sense of impunity

that no matter
how much they deforest,

no matter much illegal activity
they engage in,

no matter how many indigenous people
they displace from their land,

the government won't
take action and as a result,

we've seen big soy
and cattle ranchers deforest

at probably
an unprecedented scale.

Just this past month,
we saw 1,345 square kilometers

of the Brazilian Amazon
go up in smoke.

Uh, that's an area
the size of Los Angeles

cleared of native vegetation
in just one month.

Uh, one of the things
that Bolsonaro has done

is announce environmental
inspections before they happen,

so that the people
committing crimes can get ready

and try and cover up
the damage that they caused.

It's pretty crazy, but
it's a way that they are trying

to facilitate deforestation
on a mass scale.

What Bolsonaro
is doing is terrible,

but I think for people all over the
world who are watching this issue,

it's important to understand
that he couldn't do it alone.

It's big companies, uh,
in the soy and cattle industry

that are directly
driving this deforestation.

Industry has an enormous
influence on government policy.

Corruption is
such a massive problem

and we want the big cattle
agribusiness food companies

to stop playing that game.

The Amazon problem
often starts

far way from the jungle.

Both American
and international companies

also play a role in
deforestation by creating demand,

influencing local politics,

and even paying farmers
to destroy the forest.

I believe that
industry in the United States

has an enormous impact
on policies of other countries.

Uh, some American businesses
do play a very active role

in the destruction
of the Amazon forest.

One of the major corporations
that operates internationally

is Cargill,
and Cargill is very active

in destroying the rainforest,
uh, to grow different, uh, crops,

soy is one of the main ones,
in that rainforest.

If these
big companies stopped buying

from producers
engaged in deforestation,

regardless of
who was in government,

uh, there just
wouldn't be the incentive

to engage in
these bad practices.

Large international

providing the incentives,

they're providing loans,
they're building infrastructure,

and they're providing the
ability to access the forest.

The farmers will grow it
wherever it will be bought from,

and as long as these companies

continue to pay people
to bulldoze the forest,

they're going
to continue to do it.

Farms in Brazil
are very different

from those found
in the U.S. and Europe.

Their sheer size is often larger

than big metropolitan areas,

therefore when we hear
that a farm area

has been cleared for
cattle grazing or growing soy,

the scale of the impact
can be devastating.

When we're talking about
farms in Brazil and farmers,

I think it's important
for people to realize

that this is
on a scale very different

from what you normally see
in the Unites States.

Uh, here in the United States, you
know, 2,000 acres is a large farm,

in Brazil, it's on
a totally different scale.

Um, you know, what we found
in South America,

we routinely came across
single so-called farms

that were 50,000,
100,000 acres in size

and what that means is that
you had 50,000, 100,000 acres

of forest or other
native habitat for wildlife

just totally cleared
within a matter of months.

We have done
a series of investigations

into who is driving
deforestation in South America,

and we've consistently found
it's a relatively small

handful of companies people
probably haven't heard of.

Cargill, Bonge,
JBS, ADM and a few others,

which are
the leading agribusinesses,

but those companies
depend on markets

from name brand companies.

Burger King, Stop & Shop,

Giant, Walmart, Mars, Carrefour,

and all the big supermarkets
and fast food chains.

We've asked them
to shift their purchases

to more responsible companies.

So far, all we get
from the big consumer brands

is concern about what's happening
to the forests of South America,

concern about climate change,
but no discernible action.

So we work very closely

with these large
consumer companies

that are buying products
from companies like Cargill,

and there are
a huge number of companies

that we work with, Costco
and Walmart and McDonald's,

that have said that they don't want
rainforest destruction in their product.

And I think it...
it's time for these companies,

companies like McDonald's,
like Whole Foods,

like Costco,
like Walmart, like Target,

to stop buying
from these companies.

Brazil has many laws set
in place to protect the environment,

but unfortunately
environmental crimes related

to deforestation
are almost inconsequential.

Less than five percent
of the fines are paid

and the one that get paid are not
big enough to discourage farmers

from continuing
with these criminal practices.

95% of the environmental
fines that are levied in Brazil

are contested in court
and more often than not,

even egregious deforesters

or people who
displace indigenous people,

which is illegal,
get off scot-free.

It's the people who are on
the ground in countries like Brazil,

they want to make a living and they
want to be able to feed their family.

I am certain that given the
option they would rather do that

without having
to destroy the rainforest,

but if the only option
that these companies

are giving them
is to earn their living

through this
kind of destruction,

they're going to keep doing it.

They don't have
a lot of choices,

and I think that
maybe they could be providing

the people in Brazil
with a better option

than destroying the land that
they live in in order to eat.

One way that farmers
found to go around the system

is through something
called cattle laundering,

which is similar
to money laundering.

The cattle are born in an area

responsible for deforestation,

then they're moved
to a sustainable farm

where they get
branded, fattened,

and sent to
a certified slaughterhouse.

From there, they're sold as
sustainable eco-friendly meat.

It's almost
impossible to be certain

that your meat is not
a result of deforestation.

This method of cattle laundering

has become common place
in the market.

It's really
unlikely that anybody knows

where the meat that
they're eating comes from,

uh, particularly if it's ground
meat. If it's ground meat,

it's coming from
all different kinds of sources,

often just from one company, but they're
sourcing different parts of the meat

from different companies,
from different countries,

and, uh, mixing it all together

to get the content
they're looking for.

Brazil is also the home

to great environmental
and social initiatives.

It has the largest Meatless
Mondays campaign in the world,

and recently
the city of Sao Paolo

implemented Meatless Mondays

in all public
schools in the region.

When it comes
to the Amazon forest fires,

one indirect
victim is rarely mentioned.

Every year over 50 million
farm animals are raised

and killed for meat production
in Brazil alone.

A fact that not only
results in deforestation,

water pollution, and
emission of greenhouse gases,

but also results in the loss
of millions of animals' lives.

It's not only the
Amazon forest that's burning.

Australia, California,
Indonesia, Russia, Congo,

and several
other parts of the world

are experiencing
the most destructive

and devastating
fires in decades.

Many of these fires are
exacerbated by global warming.

The Amazon fires in particular

are part of a complex problem
involving politics,

big business,
and prolific corruption.

The political landscape
is complicated.

The agro industry
is very powerful,

and challenging
these dominant forces

can be dangerous and difficult.

There is certainly
a great deal of work to be done,

and there are many brave people
fighting in the trenches

to change these systems.

But fortunately for you and I,

we have the power
to create positive change

for the Amazon forest.

Each of us as individuals

is empowered
to protect the Amazon,

and that power lies at the end
of our knives and forks,

because we can make choices

when it comes
to the food we eat.

By reducing or eliminating

the consumption
of meat in our diets,

not only are we helping
to prevent climate change,

but we are also
protecting the Amazon forest

for present
and future generations to come.

It's a frightening time,
frankly, uh,

but I think that people can
change and when change happens,

it generally happens
pretty quickly,

and I think we're
reaching a turning point,

and we're really hoping,
and we're banking on the fact

that now that things
have gotten to this point,

people are going
to change their behaviors

and we're going to be
able to turn things around.

There's this interesting
fallacy in philosophy,

it's called
"the is-ought fallacy,"

and what it basically
means is to justify something

that you're doing because it's been done
is wrong, and we can see that very easily.

Like, so, on one hand, people
look at animal agriculture,

and they say, "Well,
people have always eaten meat."

And I would say, "Yeah, but,

like, women used to not
be allowed to vote."

We can very clearly see how logically,
ethically that's completely wrong.

We used to be able
to smoke on airplanes.

We keep making progress
and progress involves

rejecting a past that we now
deem to be unethical and wrong,

and the next thing we have to do

is reject the use
of animals for food.

For the animals, for us,

and for this only home
that we have.

In our clinic, when people
learn to change their diets,

they're replacing
the meat with healthier foods,

their health rebounds.

It's amazing to see.

Their lives are changed.

The earth is the same way,

that when we
change our eating habits,

globally, the environment
can rebound,

the forests can regrow.

We don't have to wait,
we can do that now.

I say let's put it to work.