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Ethical Animal Farming

Although industrial animal farming does immeasurable damage to our planet, raising livestock in a humane and sustainable manner is beneficial in a number of ways.

Ethical animal farming is better for your health.

Livestock raised on pasture produce healthier meat, dairy and eggs. Compared to industrially produced meat, pastured foods are lower in fat, calories and cholesterol, and higher in many nutrients:

  • omega-3s

  • vitamin A

  • vitamin E

  • conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which reduces cancer risk

Animals on pasture are also not treated with growth hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics, which are both common ingredients in industrial livestock operations and are causing increasingly urgent problems for human health. (Hormones are illegal in all poultry and swine.)

Ethical animal farming is better for the planet.

No healthy ecosystem can exist without flora and fauna of all sizes. Pasture-based farms are environmentally beneficial because they mimic nature. They also

  • rely on perennial plants (grasses), which strengthen and nourish the soil

  • often market locally, reducing fossil fuels needed for transport

  • have less waste to dispose of (animal waste is welcomed into the ecosystem naturally)

  • are less invasive to wildlife habitats than cornfields and feedlots

This is in contrast to industrial livestock management, which...

  • relies on cultivation of corn and soy, high-maintenance crops that occupy a combined 173 million acres of the country's best farmland

  • needs fossil fuels to transport feed and animals

  • creates air, land and water pollution through the disposal of animal waste in concentrated amounts

Ethical animal farming is better for the animals.

Industrial livestock systems are made up of CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), whose only objective is to get as many animals to market weight as efficiently as possible. The animals in these operations...

  • have little space to move around

  • undergo painful bodily alterations (beak-trimming, tail-docking, teeth-pulling) that diminish their quality of life, but are performed because the stress of CAFO life often causes them to attach each other

  • live in unsanitary conditions without fresh air or sunlight

  • are fed unnatural diets, which can lead to painful illnesses

Ethical farms prioritize animal welfare. These animals...

  • have plenty of space for animals to move freely and behave according to their instincts (dust-bathing, wallowing)

  • do not need to have their beaks trimmed, tails docked or teeth pulled, although exact alteration practices differ from farm to farm

  • live outside as nature intended with clean, fresh air and sunlight

  • enjoy healthy ingredients of their natural diet, leading to optimal health and comfort​

Further Reading

Further Watching

PBS: Grassfed | The Lexicon of Sustainability

Allan Savory: How to Green the World's Deserts and Reverse Climate Change

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