Treatment of animals

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Please find below a selection of statistics about the treatment of animals, both in the UK and around the world.

Disclaimer: This is a collation of third party sources about topics connected to veganism. Some of the links are not to the original sources; we are sharing them to help journalists or researchers with their research and because they may form a helpful starting point.

Animal experimentations

  • Great Britain is one of the biggest reported users of animals in Europe. In 2020, 2.88 million procedures were carried out in Great Britain involving living animals. This was 15% lower than 2019, where 3.4 million animal experiments were reported (the lowest number since 2004). Sources: [1], [2][3], [4]
  • In the UK, mice, fish, rats and birds make up the large majority of animals used for experiments, but cats, dogs, horses and primates are also used. Source 
  • In 2021, China ended its mandatory animal testing requirements for imported cosmetic products that fall into the ‘general’ category Source
  • In a 2020 global survey by FRAME, 93% of respondents said they thought more needs to be done to replace and reduce the use of animals in testing and research. 52% said they thought stopping the use of animals in all types of research and testing could happen immediately and 61% of respondents felt there is no acceptable reason for testing products on animals or using animals in scientific research. Source 
  • In the same global survey, 84% said they wouldn’t buy cosmetics if they knew it (or one of its ingredients) had been tested on animals. 77% also cited ‘not tested on animals’ as a factor in their decision to buy a cosmetic or household product. Source 


  • According to 2021 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 12.92 million sheep were killed for meat that year. Source
  • Every year around four million newborn lambs die within a few days of birth, mainly because of malnutrition, disease or exposure to cold weather. Source


  • In 2021, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 11.38 million pigs were slaughtered for human consumption. Source
  • Pigs have an average lifespan of 15 - 20 years, but reach slaughter age at 6 months old. Source
  • Less than 3% of UK pigs spend their entire lives outdoors. Source
  • Around half of all antibiotics sold in the UK are used on farmed animals, with 60% of these being used on pigs. Sources: [1][2]
  • Most pigs are entitled to less than one square metre of space each and the majority of sows (female breeding pigs) are kept in farrowing crates. Farrowing crates were made illegal in several countries across Europe, but are still standard farming practice here in the UK. Source [p.4]

Fish and sea animals

  • According to a 2022 report by the Environment Agency, 74% of salmon rivers are thought to be at risk, meaning that they are no longer at sustainable levels. Source
  • According to 2018 data from Fishcount, between 25.1 - 114.6 million fish were killed for food in the UK that year. Source
  • According to a 2021 report by WWF, global freshwater fish populations have declined by 76 percent since the 1970s. Source
  • According to  2021 report by Oceana, only a third of the UK's main fish populations are in a healthy state and not overfished. Source
  • According to Faunalytics, in 2020 91,000,000 tones of fish were killed globally. Source

Chickens and ducks

  • Globally, more than 66 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of meat. Source
  • According to 2021 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, around 1.17 billion chickens, 10.10 million ducks and 12 million turkeys, are slaughtered for food consumption every year in the UK. Source
  • Over 90% of chicken production in the UK is in intensive windowless sheds which house 20,000–50,000 chickens each. Sources: [1, p.10][2]
  • According to a 2021 report from Defra, 35.5% of the eggs sold in the UK come from hens kept in cages.  Source
  • 40 million day-old male chicks are killed in the UK either by being gassed or thrown into a macerator – this practice occurs in all egg farming systems, including organic and free-range. Source


  • According to 2021 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2.6 million cows are slaughtered in the UK for human consumption. Source
  • Cows bred for their milk produce up to 10 times more milk than they naturally would. Source
  • Male calves are of no use to the milk industry and are less suitable for industrialised meat production. This means that every year around 95,000 male calves are shot soon after birth and discarded as a by-product. Source
  • Domesticated cows have an average lifespan of 20 years, but on milk farms they are killed after five to six years on average. Source
  • Cows can naturally live for around 20 years, but are sent for slaughter at around 10-12 months old. Source
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