It’s not just about animal welfare
The suffering and cruelty inflicted upon farmed animals is a major cause for concern and a strong motivation for many vegans. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of the animal welfare concerns surrounding food production, particularly in intensive farming systems. However, the welfare of farmed animals during their lifetimes is not the only reason why vegans choose not to consume or use animal products.
There is strong evidence from behavioural studies that farmed animals such as pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, cows, sheep and fish are sentient beings with individual needs and preferences. The mass production and killing of these animals does not recognise this. Anyone who has spent time with a companion animal knows that they have complex emotions and yet farmed animals are no different in this respect from dogs and cats.
Animals are killed for milk and eggs too
Killing is an inherent and unavoidable part of farming animals for food. Of course animals are killed for meat, but many people are unaware that this is equally true of egg and milk production.
Millions of male chicks and calves are killed each year as 'by-products' of the egg and milk industries, considered worthless since they cannot produce milk or eggs. The dairy cows and egg-laying hens themselves are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan, when they become too worn out to produce enough milk or eggs to be profitable.
Buying the most animal-friendly foods
Simply buying ‘higher-welfare’ animal products cannot change these facts.
If consumers want to ensure that the food they buy is ‘cruelty-free’, by far the best way to achieve this is to buy vegan food.
It is entirely possible and increasingly easy to have nutritious and tasty food and practical and stylish clothing without exploiting other animals, especially in the UK and similar countries.
Therefore the question is not, “Why shouldn’t we use and kill animals?”, but, “Why would we?”
A right to life and freedom - an introduction to animal ethics
Murder: A Benign Extravagance? George Monbiot and the limitations of anthropocentric veganism - article by Dr Matthew Cole, 2010
About animal farming: Vegan for the Animals
Read stories of rescued farmed animals and their lives before they were rescued.
About animal farming: Eggs and Dairy
Choosing the most animal-friendly options