Not be a negative Nancy from the get-go (I promise we’ll work our way through the dark tunnel to the light), but it’s no secret that factory farming poses serious issues to the modern world, threatening real consequences on the environment, public health, and animal welfare. Living conditions for livestock on these farms are often unsafe, inhumane, and distressing. And the animal waste runoff and pollution wreak havoc on the natural land and water resources. While this may be no surprise to you — unless you’ve been living under a cozy rock — this next startling insight may shock you. According to the ASPCA®’s Shop With Your Heart program, 95% of farmed animals in the U.S. are raised in cruel factory farms at present. Meaning, we’re headed in a nerve-wracking direction for Mama Earth in order to accommodate rising meat demands. Oof.
While reducing your meat intake can certainly have health and environmental advantages, so can simply changing the meat, eggs, and dairy you purchase by selecting more humane brands and products. So, rest easy, meat-eaters. Supporting businesses with better animal welfare standards as one of their top priorities is a great place to start, because supporting that cause, in turn, supports other important efforts such as environmental sustainability. Gotta love that ripple effect.
What is animal welfare?
So, the term animal welfare may seem pretty self-explanatory, but it certainly houses many requirements when referenced in the food industry. Simply put, animal welfare is the notion that all animals raised for food should live free from abuse and suffering. Animal welfare organizations aim to abolish factory farming in support of a more humane food system. As a baseline on a farm that prioritizes animal welfare, animals should be treated for illness, protected from unnecessary suffering, and provided with an environment and handling that meets their needs. They are also given proper disease prevention and veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management, nutrition, humane handling, and humane slaughter. Any goodhearted human may be scratching their heads at this point asking, what gives? Why is animal welfare a cause in the first place? Shouldn’t fair and humane treatment of animals just be a given? In short, yes (we feel that way about a lot of other causes too). But unfortunately, that isn’t the reality.
Why is animal welfare not prioritized?
Large factory farms proclaim they provide animals with care, citing plenty of feed and freshwater, and protection from predators and extremes in weather, yet, their close-confinement housing and institutional settings are enough to make conscious consumers raise an eyebrow. This same public scrutiny can be said for other industries where animal welfare has traditionally been neglected, such as animal testing, zoos, circuses, aquariums, and dog breeding kennels. Even as these businesses explore new approaches and adopt new and improved practices, the outside view of their overall production or operation makes it difficult to believe that animal welfare is being nurtured.
The good news is, the conscious consumer voice is not lost. The outcry for prioritizing animal welfare and more humane standards for animals raised for food (and in general) has led to many local, state, and federal laws enforcing strict regulations and inspections of large-scale animal facilities. And while we’re not quite where we want to be yet, the power of the dollar is yet again at play for voicing our values and expectations of the treatment of animals.
So if you want to get the message across to mass-producing meat and dairy companies, or any other industry working with animals for that matter — start by seeking alternatives to factory-farmed products. Plant-based items or meat, eggs and dairy with a meaningful animal welfare certification recognized by the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program, such as Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership.
Here are a few of the products that are included in the Grocery List and considered to be more humane options than conventional meat, eggs, and dairy.
Your Amazon animal welfare shopping list
1. Alexandre Organic Family Farms Organic Cream Top Whole Milk
This business’ pasture promises a picturesque life for their happy cows. The cows living on this organic farm are kept in green pastures year-round, where their home plays host to regenerative farming — a holistic land-management practice that encourages protecting the natural biomes in the soil and supporting biodiversity in plant life. This product is Certified Humane (grass-fed, and pasture raised). Learn more about the certification from the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program here.
2. Central Grazing Company Lamb Shanks
Say baaah-bye to any worries around the treatment of your favorite protein indulgence. This humanely-raised grass-fed lamb supports sustainable agriculture with its regenerative farming practices. Central Grazing company is certified by the AGW, a certified animal welfare company noted by Consumer Reports as the only “highly meaningful” food label for farm animal welfare, outdoor access, and sustainability. This product is Animal Welfare Approved by AGW (pasture raised). Learn more about the certification from the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program here.
3. Mary’s Free Range Chicken Organic Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breast
This family-owned business ensures animal welfare is a number one priority, which is a comfort knowing the poultry industry has a bad rep for poor living conditions and inhumane treatment of their birds. This product is certified by Global Animal Partnership (Levels 3, 4, or 5, free-range to pasture raised). Learn more about the certification from the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program here.
4. Vital Farms Egg Bites
Vital Farms strives to bring “ethically produced food to the table,” and uses pasture-raised eggs to create their convenient on-the-go egg bites. Today, they’ve partnered with over 250 small farms and focus greatly on the humane treatment of their animals. This product is Certified Humane (pasture raised). Learn more about the certification from the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart program here.
Here are some other brands with products recognized by the ASPCA®’s Shop With Your Heart program to keep an eye out for when grocery shopping online or in-store:
- Raw Farms
- Newman Farms
- The Farmer’s Hen
- Hart Dairy
- Firefly Farms
- Desert Mountain
- Country Natural Beef
- Naked Truth Chicken
- Joyce Farms
- Harmony Fields
- Crane Dance Farm
- Joia Food Farm
Learn more about the problem with factory farming via the ASPCA®’s Shop With Your Heart program here.
Want to shop more products with animal welfare in mind and discover how your dollars are making a difference? Get Consciously today!