September 24, 2018

Your Food Choices Can Protect Animals from Suffering

a calf and mother

By ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker

You may not immediately think of a supermarket as a productive place to take a stand for animals, but more and more, food consumers are doing exactly that by rejecting meat, eggs and dairy products from cruel factory farms in favor of more humane alternatives. Voicing your compassion for animals through food choices can have a positive effect on the lives of billions of pigs, chickens and cows, as well as our environment and the health of our communities. And it starts with the simple decisions you—and many people like you—make in Aisle 4.

The Problem with Factory Farms

The majority of the nearly 10 billion pigs, chickens and cows raised each year in the U.S. live on factory farms, which are marked by a range of deplorable conditions including overcrowded pens, constant confinement with poor air quality, neglect of sick and suffering animals, overuse of antibiotics to compensate for unsanitary conditions, and rough and abusive handling.

These animals also endure painful physical alterations including teeth-clipping and tail-docking and are bred in ways that compromise their welfare. Some farmed chickens are genetically modified to be so large that they can barely stand up.

The mass production of animals also has other consequences, including environmental pollution from vast quantities of untreated animal waste and a rapid decrease in the efficacy of our country’s lifesaving antibiotic supply as it is overused and misused to prop up these sick animals. 

Fixing the System

Fixing our food system starts—as many successful movements do—with a personal commitment. When aligned under a single cause, consumers have the power to change not only the type of food products offered, but also the way those products are produced, including farm conditions. We support those commitments because we support the protection of farm animals from cruelty and abject neglect. 

From September 24-30, we’re encouraging more people to activate their compassion for animals by participating in the ASPCA “Factory Farm Detox.” For one week, participants pledge to avoid all factory-farmed foods and instead choose meaningfully welfare-certified meat, eggs, and dairy and/or plant-based products. As a guide, the ASPCA recommends three food product labels for animal welfare standards: Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership (Steps 2-5). 

While you’re supporting this cause, we’ll support you with label guideslists of welfare-certified and plant-based brands, daily encouraging emails and inspiring recipes from popular chefs and food bloggers

By participating in and sharing the Factory Farm Detox, you’re raising awareness about the problems of factory farming and helping shift the market to support more humane and sustainable farming practices. 

Your Choice Gives Them a Voice

The sheer scale of animal suffering and injustice on factory farms can make this cause seem insurmountable, but it’s not. In a relatively short amount of time, we’ve seen a dramatic expansion of healthier food options and organic products in major supermarkets that would have seemed inconceivable a generation ago. And today we’re seeing farmers and food brands—motivated by both consumer demand and their own consciences—offering animals more space and better living conditions.

We’re still in the early stages of this movement. But the more active and committed we are now—especially on a personal level—the sooner we’ll see and benefit from a more humane, compassionate American food system.