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A new report from Farm Forward discusses the deception, marketing, and communication behind food labels. The report “The Dirt on Humanewashing,” uncovers how animal welfare certifications might not carry the weight we think.

The labels look and contain similar language, “natural,” or show photos of cows in a pasture, eggs with hens in a grassy field. Farm Forward likens “humanewashing” to “greenwashing.”

“Welfare certifications are designed, ostensibly, to help consumers identify animal products consistent with their ethical concerns,” reads the Farm Forward report. “But many are intentionally deceptive, and all are problematic. They generally function to confuse consumers, lock truly high-welfare animal farmers out of important markets, and thwart the kinds of reforms necessary to phase out industrialized farming.”

The report criticizes the Global Animal Partnerships, created by the Whole Foods CEO. The partnership was created to establish standards and labeling for meat but with the scale system of the certification, products at the low end could be seen as being more welfare-friendly than they are.

“What we have concluded is that despite our best efforts . . . these certifications, like the industry label claims and unregulated claims before them, are now doing more to deceive and mislead consumers and are ultimately serving as a hindrance to progress on factory farming issues rather than a step in a better direction,” said Andrew deCoriolis, Farm Forward’s executive director.

Check out these 5 Ways to Spot Greenwashing to help you avoid purchasing humanewashed products. You can look out for vague buzzwords, idyllic imagery, hidden parent companies, a lack of transparency, and counterintuitive values. You should also do your own research on companies and become more informed on various labels by reading guides such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Egg Labeling Regulations Guide. Make sure to inform your friends and family about signs of humanewashing too!

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods will not only keep you away from being “humanewashed” but is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects

For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Here are some resources to get you started:

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