In response to consumer concern about treatment of animals in the food industry, an increasing range of ‘humanely produced’ animal products have become available, often with ‘humane certified’ labels approved by animal advocacy groups. This paper looks at the issue from an abolitionist viewpoint and proposes that it commodifies ‘humaneness’ and does not benefit animals as the narrative implies. The author argues that not only do welfare problems persist even within humane certified operations, but also that ‘higher welfare’ labels make people feel more comfortable about consuming animal products, and thus may incentivize their consumption and help entrench morally problematic systems.
The involvement of the professionalized animal welfare movement in advocating these reforms and collaborating with industry on values-based labeling is criticized for legitimizing the continued exploitation of animals, while failing to address the underlying oppressive structures that allow animals to be viewed as commodities in the first place. The author suggests that the professionalization of animal advocacy groups often entails a compromise of movement goals and leads to them working to reform the structure rather than dismantle it. As a result, the fundamental moral issue of exploiting and killing other animals remains largely unexamined. As an alternative to this, abolitionism calls for a rejection of the property-status of animals, a rejection of speciesism and equal consideration for animals, with veganism as a necessary baseline. The abolitionist framework opposes the promotion of more ‘humane’ systems of animal production, arguing that it is inconsistent to strive for an end to animal suffering while continuing to consume them, and advocates change through a radical grassroots vegan movement.
This paper critiques the conflicting conceptualizations of animal welfare that are expressed by zoos and aquaria when they serve animal products at onsite restaurants. The authors begin by surveying the goals and values of in the U.S. and E.U., and find that animal welfare is an important value of most zoos and aquaria, even when it is not made explicit. When they examined the online menus of 55 zoos, all were based on meat, with few vegetarian or vegan options, and most meat came from conventionally (factory) farmed sources. Meat provided to zoo animals was also from conventionally farmed sources, and animals purchased as live food for zoo animals were handled with little concern for their welfare. The authors conclude that these practices are inconsistent with the animal welfare mission of zoos and aquaria, and call upon them to apply animal welfare values to all animals that come within the sphere of their operations.
The Interrelations of Good Welfare Indicators Assessed in Working Horses and their Relationships with the Type of WorkSubmitted on Feb 27, 2014 (Original item from 2014) Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection
This study assessed the well-being of 697 working horses in Romania. The horses ranged in age from 2 years old to more than 15 years old, and included mares, stallions and geldings. The assessments were conducted while the horses were working, and welfare indicators were recorded only in positive terms (i.e., as the presence of positive indicators for welfare, or the absence of negative indicators) to reduce defensiveness and encourage better care behaviors among guardians. Most horses responded with more friendliness to the unfamiliar assessor than to their guardian. The horses were generally well fed (the study was conducted at a time of year with high food availability and decreased work). Most horses did not receive adequate water or unfettered exercise, and their guardians seemed unaware of their needs in these and other respects. Performing the heaviest work correlated with lower welfare assessment scores.
HRC and Animal Charity Evaluators have teamed up to provide guidelines for designing surveys on vegetarianism and veganism. We have developed a bank of survey questions that advocates and researchers can use to assess their veg outreach efforts, and also crafted general advice about the research design process. HRC recommends that advocates and researchers use these resources whenever possible not only to ensure that their studies yield useful results, but to allow for greater comparability across campaigns, which will in turn help the animal protection movement craft the most valuable veg outreach strategies.
This article from the WorldPoultry website summarizes recent trends in US egg production and demonstrates the sheer scale of the industry. During 2013, around 6.6 billion dozen eggs were produced, and by the end of 2014 there are expected to be 292 million hens in the USA, the vast majority in huge flocks of over 30,000. Per capita US annual consumption in 2013 is estimated at 250.7 eggs per person. The article also outlines the implications for Californian farmers of the forthcoming Prop #2 regulations, due to come into effect in January 2015, which require conventional cages to be converted to enriched colony systems.
In this article, the author discusses the fluid, often contradictory classifications that are applied to animals in urban spaces, focusing on how animal-related laws express perceptions and attitudes. Whether an animal species is perceived as in need of protection from humans, valuable to humans, or a threat to humans may depend on its origins, its ancestors, local variations in historical practices and policies, how freedom of religion and speech are weighted against humane concerns, and many other shifting and sometimes arbitrary factors.
A Slaughterhouse Nightmare: Psychological Harm Suffered by Slaughterhouse Employees and the Possibility of Redress through...Submitted on Jan 27, 2014 (Original item from 2008) Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection | Vegetarianism and Veganism
This article considers previously published studies and personal accounts that indicate employment in slaughterhouses is psychologically harmful to workers, and calls for more direct research on the subject. The author also discusses existing forms of redress for traumatized workers, evaluates their efficacy, and advocates the reclassification of slaughterhouse employment as ultrahazardous through tort action as a means to hold meat production companies more accountable for their slaughter practices.
Urban Livestock Ownership, Management, and Regulation in the United States: An Exploratory Survey and Research AgendaSubmitted on Jan 20, 2014 (Original item from 2014) Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection
It is becoming increasingly common for individuals to have “urban livestock,” i.e., farmed animals such as chickens, rabbits, bees, and goats who are kept in a municipal setting. Using an online survey, this study examined the motivations and management practices of those who keep these animals and compared the findings with existing municipal regulations on “backyard chickens.” Topics investigated include: motivations for keeping farmed animals; the number and species kept; the proximity of the animals to dwellings and property lines; space allocations; intentions to use animals for meat; sanitation; the impact on neighbors; slaughter practices; and the desire to share, sell, or barter animal products.
Growing Meat in Laboratories: The Promise, Ontology, and Ethical Boundary-Work of Using Muscle Cells to Make FoodSubmitted on Jan 15, 2014 (Original item from 2013) Advocacy Strategies | Animal Experimentation | Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection | Vegetarianism and Veganism
This philosophical essay discusses the ethical framework in which scientists and animal advocates regard current research into, and the potential development of, in vitro meat (IVM) production. The author incorporates quotes from interviews with 39 individuals who were scientists involved in IVM-related research or advocates who have supported IVM technology. While most interviewees awarded some degree of preferability to IVM production over current factory farming practices, their motivations for being involved in this area varied. The author concludes that ethical boundary-work concerning IVM production is complex and under development, as is the IVM research itself.
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