Throughout the last 50 years, factory farm products have nearly replaced products from America’s family farms. Sadly, the majority of farm animals in the United States are raised in factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the cost of the animals’ health and happiness. Read: no more green pastures and days spent freely roaming, but cramped cages and inhumane conditions. The good news? Whenever you shop or eat, you can help prevent this cruelty. Here are some steps you can take:
1. Participate in Meatless Monday.
According to The Humane Society of the United States, if all Americans celebrated Meatless Monday, we could prevent 1.4 billion animals from being factory farmed. That’s quite a dent (especially for a Monday)!
2. Buy eggs that are marked “cage-free” or “free-roaming.”
Refine your diet by avoiding products from overcrowded factory farms. On average, each bird on a factory farm has less space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper on which to spend its entire life.
3. Reduce or (even better) replace meat and other animal-based foods in your diet with plant-based foods.
For meat substitutes, try tofu, tempeh, or seitan. For dairy substitutes, try products made from soy, rice, almond, or coconut. Don’t want to substitute or eliminate meat? No worries! Opt for meats labeled “pasture-raised” or “grass-fed.” Typically, those animals are raised more humanely in a way that also benefits the environment. Plus, nearly all grass-fed animals aren’t given hormones or antibiotics.
4. Read food labels.
Research the following product-labeling programs (that set minimum standards of care for farm animals), and look for them as you shop: Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved, Global Animal Partnership, American Humane Certified, Food Alliance, and American Grass-fed.
5. Lobby for change.
Write to or call your local and state legislators. Encourage them to support laws that defend the humane treatment of farm animals.
6. Buy local.
Did you know there are more than 7,175 farmers’ markets around the country? Visit your community’s, get to know your local farmers, and buy your eggs, dairy products, and more from them. If you know your farmer, you’ll know your food!
7. Do your research. Knowledge is power, after all.
Talk to farmers and producers. Were the animals raised in confinement, or did they have fresh air, adequate space, and the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors? Ask about the food they were fed. Was it pumped full of hormones or all-natural?
8. Spread the word.
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) can be quite handy. Post a video, photo, or fact to speak out about factory farms. An easy start? Share this story!
See what it's like to be a chicken in a factory farm. GO
Sources: Humane Society, ASPCA, PETA, United States of Department of Agriculture, Farm Aid, The New York Times