Healthy Eating Saves Animal Lives. Food Animals Suffer Greatly In Factory Farming; But Humane Farming Is Not The Answer Either!
We humans have used food animals for centruries in the belief that we need to eat their flesh and drink their secretions to sustain our own health. We were also taught that eating food animals is natural and normal, and that we were born to eat meat. Consuming animal foods is so engrained into our cultural, religious, and social system that the truth about eating animals is hard to digest for many of us.
Apart from the overwhelming evidence that a diet without animal foods is actually healthier for us humans, we are also learning more about the unspeakable horrors that food animals suffer on factory farms. But rather than giving up meat, dairy, and eggs alltogether to avoid this unnecessary animal cruelty, a large part of our population is looking at so-called "humane farming", grass-fed beef, or pasture raised livestock as the answer to factory farming animal cruelty. There is no such thing as humane farming.
Why do we eat animals?
For centuries we have been taught and desensitized into believing the following myths about food animals and the purpose of eating meat:
1. Animals were created by nature to serve us humans as food. That is their purpose - to be food animals
Animals have their very own purpose in life and in every natural ecosystem. Sometimes they act as food animals for another species, but never through artificial breeding, capturing, abusing, and killing by a species that consumes them into extinction and to the detriment of their own health, like we humans do. This is highly unnatural.
2. Animals are inferior creatures, they have less intelligence, and they don't have emotional lives
All animals have a rich emotional life, and that includes the farm animals that we choose to eat. It is also known that animal intelligence is not exclusive to chimpanzees, cats, dogs, or parrots:
- Pigs are smarter than 3-year old children. They are loyal, friendly, and naturally very clean. People who have been around pigs often compare them to dogs.
- Chickens have intelligence similar to cats, dogs, and even primates. They have such cognitive abilities to even recognize that a hidden object still exists - which goes beyond the capacity of small children.
- Cows are clever, curious, and sociable. Female cows are doting mothers. They mourn death and separation from those they love. Cows have been found to get excited over an intellectual challenge that they are able to resolve.
- Fish are sensitive, curious, and have individual personalities. They hurt and feel pain when they are wounded, even if we can't hear them. Their memory power matches or even exceeds that of primates.
3. We humans have to eat food animals to maintain our health, as we need certain nutrients that only animal foods can provide sufficiently
Animals have essentially the same bodies as humans, which makes them highly unsuitable to be consumed for human health. Their mayor nutritional contributions are fat (saturated fat and cholesterol), protein, and hormones. Of these, we humans require only protein in moderate amounts from our diet, which also exists in many plant foods.
All other essential nutrients come mainly from plant foods: carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Essential fatty acids are found in both, animal and plant foods. Take a closer look at our nutrition data chart for more information.
4. We humans have always eaten food animals; it is in our ancestry as hunters and gatherers. It is normal and natural. That’s why we are called "omnivores" and not "herbivores"
When our ancestors ate animals they did so to supplement their otherwise plant-based diet, or when plant foods were scarce. Our human physiognomy is far closer to herbivores than carnivores, as we lack the strength, fangs, claws, short intestines, and strong stomach acid to catch, kill and devour animals in their natural, raw form.
Humans have to use tools to hunt, kill, process, and cook animal foods.
We are appalled by the look and stench of a fresh bloody carcass, and rotting meat does not arouse our appetite - which it does in natural carnivores.
There is nothing natural in the way we humans have to trick, subdue, and process animals into becoming our food.
5. Animals don't have the same central nervous system and they don't experience pain like we humans do.
All animals have central nervous systems and pain receptors, including so-called food animals like cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, fish, and shellfish. Mammals and birds feel pain very similar to humans, and would even deprive themselves of food to avoid pain. This was even observed in animals we consider lowly, like rats.
In one lab experiment, one rat received a painful electro shock every time another rat was getting a food treat. The rat that enjoyed the treat stopped taking it when it noticed that it caused the other rat to suffer pain. This is just one of many examples where non-human animals exhibit greater compassion and emotional reactions towards members of their own species than some of us humans do.
Find out more about factory farming of food animals and its consequences for human health, animal welfare, and the environment.
How does healthy eating save animals?
When we choose to eat plant foods we spare the lives of countless food animals that are suffering and dying every day just to become our meals.
Apart from being the healthiest diet for us humans, a fully plant-based, vegan diet is also the most humane and compassionate diet for our fellow creatures that inhabit this earth: the animals.
We are killing and eating food animals in gargantuan proportions:
- Between 1950 and 2000, the US population doubled - but meat consumption grew 5-fold in the same time.
- In 2009, the average American meat-eater was responsible for about 198 animal deaths, most of it in form of chickens, fish, and shellfish (1).
- 59 billion animals were killed to feed Americans in 2009 (1).
- Over 10 billion land animals are killed for food in the US every year. Worldwide, 58 billion land animals find their death for our plates (2).
- Americans eat about 3/4 pound of meat per day, which amounts to more than 200 pounds per year per person! And that does not even include fish and sea life.
- People who don't eat any animals products save roughly 50 land animals per year and over 100 animals in total per year including sea animals. Per this source, the number would even be 198 food animals per year! These savings reflect animals that don"t need to be bred to become our food, so overall, it's the number of less animals raised and killed per consumer if our demand for animal food drops by going vegan.
Find out how eating plant foods - not animals - nourishes your body completely and why animal foods are so unhealthy for us humans.
How do animals suffer to become our food?
Animals raised for food are deprived of everything that is natural or joyful for them. 99% of food animals in the US are raised on factory farms, where they live extremely confined in dark, tiny spaces that leave them no space to turn around or lie down. They never breathe fresh air or walk on grass. Instead, they stand on metal or concrete floors, often knee-deep in their own excrements, and are subjected to harmful amounts of ammonia and toxic gases that are applied in an effort to stem bacterial infection in these filthy, unsanitary environments.
When food animals get injured or are too weak to stand or walk, they rarely receive veterinary care and are often left to die a slow death of starvation; or they are brutally killed by factory farm workers by slamming them on the ground, or by simply throwing the still living, weak animals on a pile of already dead ones.
Since farm animals are constantly fed artificial concoctions of grains, growth hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics, their bodies grow too fat too fast, and they often suffer broken bones, heart attacks, or seizures from their unnatural massive weight.
There is almost no oversight on factory farms to uphold even the most basic animal welfare guidelines for food animals. Humane killing methods are largely ignored on the relentless kill floors where the production line can never stop, so many animals are insufficiently stunned before they are throat-slit, bolt-shut, scorched in boiling water, or even dismembered piece by piece - often while still fully conscious.
What about humane farming methods like grass-fed and pasture raised livestock - don't animals live cruelty-free there?
While grass-fed and pasture raised animals conjure images of happy cows and cheerful pigs running around the green meadows or family barns, the reality is very different.
Grass-fed cattle or dairy cows are allowed to eat grass, which is their natural food as ruminants, and they have more space to roam. However, almost everything else is very similar as on factory farms:
- Cows are still being force-impregnated every year with artificial insemination on the "rape rack" to keep their unnatural high milk production flowing - no matter on what kind of farm they are kept.
- About 50 % of dairy cows' calves are male. These calves are immediately sold on veal meat auctions or are killed for their smooth young skin as high-priced leather - no difference to those born on factory farms.
- Grass-fed cattle are dehorned, castrated, and branded - all without painkillers, no matter if they are raised on independent "humane" farms or on factory farms.
- Grass-fed beef cattle is still mostly "finished" for the last few months in corn-fed lots, where they are fattened on the same nasty corn/chemical/hormone concoction that factory farmed cattle eat.
- The slaughter process of spent dairy cows or grass-fed cattle is the same as for cows and steers from factory farms. Spent dairy cows are often so weak that they become "downers", and are then prodded and pushed with electric rods to the slaughter aisle.
Humane Farming Is A Myth
Read this eye-opening article from former beef farmer Harold Brown on why he thinks that humane farming does not exist.
Here is an essay from former cattle rancher Howard Lyman, author of "Mad Cowboy", explaining why he believes there is no such thing as humane slaughter.
Cayce Mell is a humane police officer in Pennsylvania, where she also co-founded animal sanctuary "Oohmanee". Find out why she believes that humane farming is a myth and a misleading term that lures consumers into believing that they act with compassion.
Cage Free Eggs and Free Range Farms
This is one of the marketing tricks that egg producers use to make consumers believe that they buy eggs from hens that are treated humanely.
This is far from reality, as the egg industry is allowed to self-police, which means there are basically no rules as to how egg-laying hens are raised.
Cage-free can mean that hens are held in massive pens with thousands of birds stuck together on one concrete floor. They are not held in cages, but they still have no access to the outdoors.
Egg-laying hens and broilers still get debeaked and are still fed grain mixes with growth hormones, hemicals, and antibiotics for fast unnatural growth, just like on factory farms. Find out more about cage free eggs.
There is simply no humane way to harm or kill a creature that does not want to die. The labels "humane farming", "grass-fed beef", "organic meat", "pasture raised", or "free range" are just another attempt by a cruel industry to lure and fool consumers into buying animal products that are anything but humane - not for the lives of these food animals, not for our own health, and certainly not for our planet either.
Please don't be fooled and consider healthy plant-based eating - for your life and that of the animals!