If we must eat animals. . .
Even where hunger is prevalent, livestock can be raised humanely
It’s annoying to hear about the misery of farm animals while you’re enjoying a hamburger. But, the musician Moby thinks we need to know more about animals’ quality of life before we start chewing.
In a video made for FAO’s animal production and health team, Moby says he would never tell anyone how to live – but he asks us to learn about the issue of livestock suffering and then make our own decisions.
Global demand for meat is on the rise, with a 73 percent increase in meat consumption forecast by 2050 and a 58 percent rise in the consumption of dairy. This puts more pressure on producers to raise more animals faster. Often that means a trade-off: higher output or higher standards?
Of course, the whole world can’t become vegan. Animals are an essential part of the culture for millions of people around the world. Families rely on meat, milk, eggs and other animal-based foods for survival. But this doesn’t mean humane treatment has to be sacrificed for the sake of quantity – even in areas where hunger is prevalent.
Where meat is important to human health and livelihoods, animals can, and should, be raised humanely. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) recently released a case study from Namibia showing how good farming standards can create a system that is healthy both for the animals and the environment.
Animal rights activists like Moby, who co-edited a book called Gristle about the problems of industrial farming, can help by encouraging standards for livestock, but also by encouraging those who can to eat less meat. Other popular books like Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma that go deep into the reality of large-scale livestock production have turned many people off meat entirely. Many forego meat as a humanitarian gesture but also as a way of easing the strain on the world’s food systems. Actress Natalie Portman says Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals turned her into a vegan activist.
Caring about animals may mean eating less of them, and for those who do eat animal-based foods, choosing carefully. Ask questions at the butcher shop and in restaurants about how the animals you’re eating were raised. Some supermarkets have made it easier to know more by adopting the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-step program rating system for meat.