In recent years, industrial animal factories have developed a series of deceptive terms and labels to make consumers believe that animal products can come from animals who were “humanely raised.” In a strategic effort to take advantage of consumers’ “good intentions,” the packages often carry misleading titles and blissful images of animals on old-world farms. In reality, the animals who are exploited to make these products suffer many of the same torments as those who carry mainstream labels. Nearly all animals raised for food:
- Are separated from their mother shortly after birth.
- Travel long distances to the slaughterhouses in extreme confinement.
- Are slaughtered at a very young age by methods designed for efficiency.
Many consumers believe that the terms “Cage-Free,” “Free-range,” and “Free-roaming” are synonymous with “cruelty-free.” This is not the case. In fact, these and many related terms are largely undefined and unregulated. With regard to eggs that carry these labels, the hens still experience the stress and fear associated with handling, transport and slaughter. They often travel many miles to the slaughterhouse, during which time they are intensively confined and deprived of food and water. The male chicks are useless to the egg industry and are consequently suffocated or ground alive within hours or days after birth. Hens are slaughtered as soon as their laying rate begins to decline- usually around 18 months of age.
With the exception of birds raised for “meat,” the terms “Free-range” and “Free-roaming” have no official definition. The USDA only defines these terms for “poultry” products, stating: “Producers must demonstrate to the agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” * There are no requirements for the time spent outside or the space allowed.
USDA Organic certification does not set any meaningful requirements for the welfare of animals raised for food. Organic certification pertains only to the food the animals are consuming and the use of growth hormones and antibiotics. The animals raised under these guidelines are susceptible to all of the same sources of stress, pain and fear as any other animal raised for food. A prime example is the fact that babies are taken from their mother shortly after birth.
The producers of animal products know that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the inherent cruelty required to raise animals for food. They believe they can successfully overcome this negative image by simply creating deceitful labels and placing images of content animals on the package.
At the end of the day, all animals raised for food are killed when they are no longer “profitable.” This inescapable fate is the epitome of an inhumane process. Adopting a vegan lifestyle is the only way to ensure that you are not contributing to this unnecessary suffering.