If We All Go Vegetarian, What Will Happen to All the Animals?

Cows grazing in a field
Photos by R A Kearton/Getty Images 

If you're a vegetarian or a vegan, how many times have you heard this question:

"If everyone goes vegetarian, the cows will overrun the world. What will we do with them? Will the planet become overrun with uneaten cows? " 

It sounds like some sort of South Park episode gone horribly wrong. And why is it that nobody ever worries about what will happen to all the dogs in China or all the horses in the European Union if the entire world magically suddenly goes vegetarian overnight?

 If we all go vegetarian, won't the planet become overrun with uneaten cows, pigs or chickens, they ask. What will we do with all the millions of farm animals just lying around? 

Why People Ask

Most of the time when people ask this question they are being facetious or just trying to poke the local vegetarian for fun. Surely this has happened to you too, and you've come here to find a nice snappy response to this silly question. 

Every once in a while, however, in an apparent demonstration of the collective failure of our public school system, people seem to be genuine in asking this question. Yes, grown adults, even. Or at least people who look like competent, grown adults. Well, next time someone asks you this, here's what to say.

How to Answer

It is simple supply-and-demand capitalist economics that as fewer people eat meat and dairy products, prices will go down. All the meat, dairy products, and eggs that now exist will be sold, but they will be sold for less money.

As more and more people adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, fewer of these products will be produced because prices will fall. Less demand means less production. Eventually, we’ll stop raising animals for food altogether.

I should add, that if, as a collective global community, our biggest problem is a few extra cows and chickens in the fields and not the latest genocide or mass kidnapping, child labor in Asia and violence in the Middle East, then we'd be pretty well off!

There are lots more crazy ideas out there when it comes to the shocking idea that some people don't want to eat dead animals.