You Asked: Shopping with a Conscience
Today I would like to respond to a question from reader Claudia.
Q. Thank you so much for the work you do to help the lives of animals across the globe. As the animal lover that I am, I couldn't get the images out of my mind of the downer cows at the slaughterhouse in Chino, Calif. I've been reading up on this since then and have become aware of so many atrocities done. And while I was not surprised, I realized that I never really thought about this side of the coin... I just buy the steaks, hamburgers, etc., but never think about the conditions these animals live in. Aside from donations, what can the public do? What can I do at a local level? Your response is appreciated.
A. Agriculture has taken a harsh turn in the last few decades, and animals are often treated like meat-, milk-, and egg-producing machines—with little thought given to their well-being. It's important to note that the problems are not caused by just a few bad companies and rogue employees who are needlessly cruel to animals—even though the conduct we uncovered at the slaughter plant in Chino was extreme and appalling. There are industrial production, transport, and slaughter methods that by their very design cause deprivation and suffering—such as battery cages for laying hens or gestation crates for breeding pigs.
The greatest disinfectant to the inhumane treatment of animals raised for food is the bright light of exposure and an appeal to the conscience of the American people. Investigative work is one of The HSUS’s most powerful weapons against the mistreatment of animals and you can help equip and deploy our investigators with a contribution to our Investigations Fund.
You can also make a difference in the lives of farm animals by joining our campaign efforts and by being a caring consumer. The HSUS recommends a “Three Rs” policy: reducing total consumption of animal products, refining techniques to minimize pain and distress, and replacing animal products with non-animal products. For example, if each American simply reduced his or her animal consumption by only 10 percent, approximately 1 billion fewer animals would endure factory farms and slaughter plants. If you continue to eat animal products, refining your diet by switching to products from animals raised without intensive confinement, instead of the conventional factory farm products that fill most supermarket shelves, will also help to reduce farm animal suffering. And, replacing animal products with readily available vegetarian alternatives is a simple (and delicious) way to help farm animals. Check out our recipes and our online guide for the hows and whys of animal-friendly eating.
You can find even more ways to take action on behalf of farm animals at humanesociety.org/farm.