Lose the Vegan and Vegetarian Trend and Read the Labels

Going halfway can have an impact on animal welfare

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Photo by Andrea Lightfoot on Unsplash

You don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to have an impact on the treatment and living conditions of farm animals.

But if you’re like me, animals are your favorite people and you still want to help them.

Many animals are raised solely to enter the food supply chain and are abused, neglected, and frightened their entire lives.

The word is that we humans don’t need animal protein to survive, that there are other sources of nourishment that will maintain our health, and even improve it in some instances.

This is why I’m trying to be a good vegan, or vegetarian at the least. It’s been an adjustment and I can’t say it’s been an easy one.

I’ve replaced beef and chicken with beans, shrimp, and other savory substitutes.

I’ve replaced my shredded cheese with Daiya; drink Almond Milk and have discovered Ripple, a plant-based (pea really) milk substitute. It’s bland like milk, but different and not bad at all. The cheese replacement needs improvement.

But not everyone can or will do this. This doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference.

Dr. Temple Grandin, an author and speaker on animal behavior and autism, she herself is autistic, makes the following statement in her book, Animals in Translation: “We are going to eat them. There’s no reason to be cruel and scare them as well.”

I think most of you can agree with this statement.

You’d be shocked to see what drugs our food contains and what they marinate in prior to ending up in the grocer’s refrigerator/freezer and ultimately our plates. If you’re inclined to enter into the Twilight Zone of the food industry, please read my prior publication.

You don’t have to go vegan, or even vegetarian, to support the humane treatment of animals. As consumers, we have the power to change the way farms and food companies treat and care for them.

Check out the, “Shop With Your Heart Brand List.”

It’s all you’re eating now and more and it guarantees that your food was treated well prior to becoming, well, your food.

Chicken, beef, pork, turkey, lamb, eggs, milk, butter and spreads, cheese, yogurt, condiments, snacks, sweets, broths, stocks and soups, and ready-to-eat meals are all included for your dining pleasure.

It’s easy to sign-up and they’ll even send you updates when new products are added.

They also provide a list of certified farms by state.

All products are labelled Animal Welfare Approved, American Human Certified, and Certified Humane, Raised and Handled.

And these are the labels that matter.

Labeling adds bucks to the products, so it’s good to know you’re not wasting any on meaningless ones. Labels such as humanely raised, free range and/or pasture range cannot be verified as the USDA doesn’t visit farms to certify. Also, the definitions do not have a common standard.

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA)is the gold star among certification programs, but the enrollment is on the smaller side. The label is highly verified. However, it does not prohibit the use of chemical pesticides or GMO feeds.

American Humane Certified (AHC) certifies over one billion animals, but is only required to meet 85% of the standards. A plan to bring the them up to par must also be in place.

Certified Humane, Raised, and Handled has some meaning in that it requires clean litter for chicken houses and bedding for pigs.

Greener Choices, aka Consumer Reports’ Green Choices, states that this is not a “highly meaningful label for animal welfare” however, as many of the standards do not meet requirements that consumers expect from the label.

It is a start.

For information on many other food labels, check out the complete Consumer Reports Greener Choices labels. In general, they do recommend you stick with ones above.

We are making progress.

Kudos to Vermont for being the first state to pass a law enabling funding for human farming. This means that Vermont’s farmers will receive money to help them achieve the highly touted Animal Welfare Approved certification. It will also prohibit practices such as caging and crating.

In 2016, Perdue chicken succumbed to pressure from consumers and animal rights’ advocates and overhauled their practices.

Do you know what’s going on in your state?

Even if you don’t have time to get involved, try swapping out a single product for one that contains a certified label. It will cost more, but chances are it will be healthier.

And somewhere an animal will thank you.

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Written by

Marilyn is a writer, yogi, and spiritual medium. Her favorite people are animals, especially ones that meow. She loves the ocean and hates one-use plastic.

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