Contrary to popular belief, the food labels “humanely raised meat,” “cage-free,” or “organic” do not necessarily mean the animals are treated humanely. These labels can be misleading and do not guarantee humane treatment of animals.
This creates a cycle of harm, where people believe they are buying “humanely” raised meat, but they are unaware they contribute to further mistreatment of animals.
Dairy calves are stripped away from their mothers just hours after they are born and sent to the slaughterhouse for veal. The method in which these cows are slaughtered is extremely painful and brutal, whether the cows are raised on factory, “family” or humane farms.
Even the way humans collect cow milk is traumatizing for cows. Like every mammal, cows need to give birth to produce milk; thus, to get milk, farmers impregnate cows through artificial insemination, which subjects cows to an constant cycle of physical and emotional pain.
Even if labeled “humanely raised meat,” oftentimes the animals are kept indoors with poor ventilation. For example, the label “cage free” does not mean chickens are roaming free on a grassy hill with tranquil scenery.
The chickens are “cage free,” but they are crammed into windowless warehouses, and, according to farmsanctuary.org, are “packed so tightly that they can barely move or spread their wings.”
Due to the limited space, the chickens are de-beaked, a process which is severely painful and unnecessary. Similarly, farmsanctuary.org states that “USDA regulations do not specify the amount, duration, or quality of outdoor access provided to ‘free-range’ animals.”
Even if you don’t eat meat, there are still ways to be misled, particularly through the labels found on dairy products. An “organic” label only refers to the lack of use of antibiotics. Since the cows are not allowed to have antibiotics, some suffer from diseases which could be easily cured with treatment. Antibiotics may be problematic for a human diet, but they are critical for an animal’s health and well-being.
One solution to this problem is to research the source of an animal-based product before declaring it humane and trusting the label.
Everyone should also try cutting meat and dairy from their diets. Instead of getting meat, a filling salad with soup and fruit for dessert makes a good meal. Substituting food is a good way to cut down on meat and dairy consumption. Many of the alternatives are just as tasty and just as cheap as the real stuff. Considering a substitute is not only best for animals but for the environment as well.
For more information, check out http://freefromharm.org/food-products/your-guide-to-going-dairy-free/