Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI) researched the animal consumption patterns of the 50 countries responsible for 80 percent of the total farmed animal consumption in the world. By analyzing the numbers of animals killed for food, consumption patterns, and “regulatory frameworks” of these systems, VACI ranked countries in three categories: “producing cruelty,” “consuming cruelty,” and “sanctioning cruelty.” And the results are alarming — the United States has been ranked the second worst country for the welfare of farmed animals.
The study revealed that the average American consumes 28 land animals (cows, chickens, pigs, etc.) each year, with 99 percent of them coming from factory farms where billions of animals are routinely mutilated and abused before succumbing to cruel slaughter. Chicks on egg farms are ground up alive, calves born on dairy farms are ripped away from their mothers at birth to become veal, and animals like pigs are kept in such cramped confines they cannot even turn around and their legs become lame from lack of movement. The great majority of all factory farmed animals will never see sunlight or have the opportunity to roam freely on open land.
The average American consumes about 2.3 ounces of animal protein (meat, eggs, dairy) per day compared to the global average of one ounce, making the U.S. the sixth highest consumer of animal protein in the world.
As the researchers point out, the inhumane and cruel treatment of animals on factory farms is made worse by the fact that it is all legal. Animals on factory farms do not have the same legal protections as other animals, like dogs and cats, and animals used for food are reduced to mere objects rather than the living, sentient beings that they are. Hens, sows, and cows all have strong maternal instincts and cry out in anguish when separated from their offspring. Animals on factory farms possess a wide array of emotions and have expressed compassion and developed deep social ties despite their dismal environments.
On top of all this, factory farming is responsible for more harmful greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined, causes mass land degradation, is responsible for the culling of wildlife like wild horses, and pollutes our precious waterways. However, despite the study’s findings, there is hope for a brighter future, as citizens’ values differ from those of government-subsidized factory farms. More people than ever are replacing animal products with plant-based options, so much so that dairy plants are shutting down with some turning to plant-based milk production. Not to mention, large meat production companies such as Tyson and Cargill are investing in plant-based proteins and even lab-cultured “clean meat.” Consumption of meat alternatives is higher than ever with 50 percent of Americans expressing they would like to see a ban on slaughterhouses and a preference for lab-grown “clean meat.”
To see how other countries compared to the U.S. in the study, visit here.
You have the power to counteract these cruel laws by opting for a plant-based diet. To learn how your food choices affect the world, check out the Eat for the Planet book!
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