Animal Welfare





How humans treat each other obviously says a lot about our nature. Given our political, racial and social climate, it’s clear we are not all that civilized. How we treat the animals of our planet is equally important to how we treat our fellow humans and this says a lot about us too. As mentioned on my environmental page Everything and everyone in our world is interconnected. Watch this video about how the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone Park actually changed the flow of rivers if you don’t believe it. Another such amazing video shows how even plants in Alaska rely on the life cycle of salmon for their survival. How we treat the animals impacts directly on us as well as the planet. The vast majority (99%) of animals killed in the world are factory-raised livestock for food. Chickens, cows, pigs and sheep account for the vast majority of livestock, but this long list also includes guinea pigs, dogs, rabbits, minks, ducks, salmon and trout. Sport hunting, poaching and die-off from human expansion is also a significant source of species loss. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of 1 to 5 species per year. We’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens of species going extinct every day. It’s estimated that human activity causes the extinction of 1 species every 20 minutes. The destruction of wild habitat for farming, logging and development has resulted in what many scientists consider the 6th mass extinction of life to occur in the Earth’s 4-billion-year history. About 50% of the Earth’s animals are thought to have been lost in the last 50 years alone. Palm tree plantations for generation of palm oil, used massively in processed foods, are a great example of the impact our agricultural practices have on animals. Palm tree plantations are responsible for the bulk of rain forest destruction in Borneo and Sumatra. This has led to the destruction of the native orangutan’s habitat leading to their endangered status. Although palm plantations also exist in Brazil and Malaysia and there is significant rain forest destruction there, those locations do no impact on orangutans but still lead to significant destruction.

Humans account for about 36% of the biomass of all mammals on the planet. Domesticated livestock account for 60 percent, and wild mammals for only 4%. This is in stark contrast to even 100 years ago when humans and domesticated animals accounted for only a small fraction of the mammalian population. Farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) recently revealed that from 1970 to 2014, the average size of the wildlife population has decreased by 60%. The giraffe population has decreased by 40% in the last 15 years alone due to poaching and habitat loss. Marine mammal biomass has decreased 5x due to commercial whaling and other exploitative hunting practices. Fish biomass has also fallen around 15%.

Although it’s clear that the healthiest diet is a plant-based one, you don’t have to be vegan (100% animal product free) to be healthy as long as you keep animal products to less than 10% of your diet and stick to organic, ethical sources and avoid all dairy products (we did not evolve consuming dairy not to mention the fact that we don’t need mother’s milk after infancy). This amounts to 1-2 meals a week that may contain a serving meat (a serving the size of a deck of cards). I do think that we evolved eating some meat but it was much cleaner (no chemicals), leaner (<10% fat vs today’s >35% fat meats) and we ate considerably less than what modern man consumes which is 85% more today than it was 100 years ago. Our ancestors were more “gatherer-hunters” than “hunter-gatherers”. 

However, we simply do not need meat for protein and milk for calcium and stronger bones but this message has been repeated to us so often that we accept it as gospel. It’s advertised to our kids in school, some products even given out for free, and promoted in all of our media. Our misguided obsession with meat and dairy consumption has led to a system of cruel and unsustainable factory farming and industrial agriculture to feed it resulting in considerable animal abuse not to mention a tremendous unsustainable impact on our environment. Factory farming and animal agriculture contribute more to greenhouse gases and climate change than the pollution and carbon footprint of all modes of transportation worldwide combined! Simply substituting beans for red meat would result in a reduction of half the greenhouse gas emission called for by the Paris Accord. If we don’t need to eat animal products to be healthy, should we be eating animal products since it would be merely to satisfy our selfish appetite? This is a link to a National Review article on the ethics of cruelty to animals through factory farming.

Despite what anyone thinks, all animals think and feel. They have emotions and can be happy or terribly sad. They feel physical and emotional pain. They grieve for their loved ones and rejoice when they are with friends they recognize, even from other species. They are pure and live just to live. They eat to survive and do not destroy what they do not need. The ONLY animals on the planet who suffer chronic diseases and obesity are humans and the animals and pets we “care” for.

We can learn a lot from animals. 10 Important Life Lessons We Can Learn From Animals  is a great article highlighting some important points about animals.

More than 50% the U.S. grain and nearly 40% of world grain is fed to livestock rather than being consumed directly by humans. We grow enough grain to feed a population of 10 billion (the world population is 7.4 billion as of 2018). 25,000 people still die of hunger daily. That means more than 9.1 million people die of hunger every year completely unnecessarily. In addition to the tremendous waste, animal cruelty and human death and suffering that the animal agriculture industry causes, it is also extremely inefficient. You would think that for all that waste and suffering that there would be some cost savings but even that is not true. For every 1 calorie that chicken meat provides, it takes 8 calories to grow that chicken. The ratio is a staggering 34:1 for beef.




John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods Market, wrote a great book “The Whole Foods Diet” discussing the health, ethics and environmental impact of eating animal products. He has a rational way of looking at meat-eating. I’ve paraphrased it, and I added a 5th point myself, as follows:

  1. If you’re going to eat animals, the animal necessarily has to die and 99% of animals for human consumption are raised inhumanely on factory farms. Their lives are miserable.
  2. You don’t have to eat animal foods to be healthy. There is undeniable scientific evidence that the more plant-based your diet is, the healthier you will be.
  3. We eat animals primarily because we’ve learned to eat them. We were raised by our families and by our culture to eat them. We’ve grown to enjoy the taste because of it.
  4. Can you justify the inevitable death and the unavoidable suffering of these animals just to satisfy the pleasure of your palate?
  5. You can’t profess to care about animals and/or the environment while simultaneously continuing to eat animal products with every meal just because “you like it”. The animal agriculture industry is responsible for at least 25% of greenhouse gasses (more than all vehicles worldwide combined) and more oceanic pollution than all industrial sources combined. This system is also responsible for immeasurable animal suffering. Avoiding animal products is not just good for you, it’s also good for the planet and shows compassion for the animals.

99% of the animals killed in the world today die to satisfy our obsession with eating animal products. The vast majority of these animals live horribly sad and abusive lives and are slaughtered inhumanely. Baby chicks put alive into meat grinders if they are not the right sex (click and watch this if you have the stomach for it), collateral by-kill fish trapped in fishing nets, farm animals crammed into cages so tightly that they can’t even turn around… the list of examples of the abuse they endure is long. It’s all pretty hard to read about but it’s the way it is and we turn a blind eye and tolerate it. Unfortunately, we have separated the food on the plate from the process of how it got there and most people sadly don’t want to know. We also have conveniently decided that some animals are pets, and some we eat. This phenomenon is called “Carnism“. Watch this Ted Talk by Dr. Melanie Joy where she talks about this concept. Her book reference is below along with some more information about this concept. This idea of selective eating is very much cultural, habitual, cruel and hypocritical. Dogs are eaten in the Orient. That’s sad enough but to make it even worse, they are tortured before they are slaughtered because of a misguided notion that meat from a stressed dog is somehow healthier to eat. Horse meat is a delicacy in France and Canada. Dolphins are culled and slaughtered in Japan. Cows are revered in India however all other meat is usually acceptable. We can call it “cultural” but it’s really simply hypocritical.

The lives of factory raised animals are pretty sad. Puppy-mill owners and private citizens who treat dogs and cats this way are prosecuted and imprisoned but piglets are routinely killed on pig farms by smashing their heads against the concrete. Because this is considered “common agricultural practice” it does not fall under the animal cruelty laws and is not considered a crime. The same goes for practices like ripping out the beaks of chickens so they don’t “hurt themselves” and cutting and cauterizing cows tails to “minimize the risk of infection”. One can justify any kind of behavior. Why is that same judicial standard and compassion not extended to the abuse and mistreatment of other animals? Compassion must extend to all animals, not just our pets.




  • More animals raised for food die every day than humans were killed by every conflict in human history combined.
  • 70 billion farm animals are raised for food in the world each year.
  • 65% of them (worldwide) are raised on factory farms in inhumane, unsanitary conditions. 
  • Factory farms (as opposed to smaller, more humane farms) in the US raise 99.9% of chickens, 97% of laying hens, 99% of turkeys, 95% of pigs, and 78% of cattle.
  • 9% of these animals (about 9 billion) die of disease or stress-related conditions before even making it to the slaughterhouse.
  • The number of pigs raised for food each year:10 million in the UK.110 million in the US.300 million in Europe (excluding UK).
    • 680 million in China.
  • 70+ BILLION land animals are killed yearly for food worldwide. In the US, 10 billion die. This includes:
    • 9 Billion Chickens (that’s over a million per hour).
    • 115 Million Pigs.
    • 35 Million cattle.
  • 1.2 TRILLION aquatic animals are killed annually for food. About 120 BILLION of those are killed in fish farms, the rest out in the wild. In addition, a significant proportion of those aquatic animals killed in the wild are called “by-catch”, animals caught and killed in the trolling nets often used to gather fish.
  • The ratio of farm animals killed for consumption to the number of dogs and cats euthanized in shelters is 3000:1.
  • There are NO federal laws protecting farm animals from abuse like there are protecting dogs and cats.
  • Although there is a weakly enforced federal “Humane Slaughter Act” which prevents cruelty during the slaughter process, this law does not apply to any poultry and oddly, rabbits are included in the “poultry” category. This act was approved in 1958 and specifically mentions only cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep and swine.
  • The agricultural and factory farm industries are so powerful that in some states, it is illegal to stand on public land (like the sidewalk or street) and take a photograph or video of a slaughterhouse or farm. These are call AgGag, or Agricultural Gag laws. These facilities and companies don’t want any press making them look bad, even if it is the truth. Some states also have “food disparagement” laws which forbid public criticism of the food industry.
  • United States farm law requires most animals but not birds or fish to be rendered “insensible to pain” before being slaughtered. This is ridiculous since ALL creatures experience pain and suffering.
  • 75% of the animals on the endangered species list are there because of farming or ranching.
  • An average person living in a developed country who is not a vegetarian or vegan will consume approximately 7,000 animals during his or her lifetime.
  • Of the 29 million tons of antibiotics produced, 24 million (82%) is fed to livestock, mostly as a preventative measure and growth stimulant. This is the main cause of drug resistance accounting for more than 30,000 deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of illness as at a cost of 2.1 trillion annually. The rate of these infections increases at  a rate of 20% a year!




  • 90% of the worlds edible fish stocks are fully exploited and dangerously over-fished.
  • 50% of the general ocean fish population is already depleted.
  • 70% of fish oil comes from Peruvian Anchovies. They put a 1-year moratorium on anchovy harvesting because there was a risk of “100% depletion”. That’s a technical way of saying “over-fished to extinction”.
  • 1/3rd of the world’s fresh water and usable land mass is used for raising livestock for human consumption.
  • 96% of pigs were raised on factory farms as of 2006. It was only 30% in 1992.
  • 97% of chickens are contaminated with E. Coli as well as many viruses.
  • Americans eat 1 million chickens an hour.
  • 70% of the fat in salmon is saturated fat (the bad kind).
  • ALL open water fish are contaminated with mercury, PCBs and other environmental contaminants. Farmed fish are worse, treated with antibiotics and raised in unsanitary and stressful conditions feeding on their own waste.
  • Fish on fish farms are fed 5 lbs. of wild-caught fish to produce 1 lb. of farmed fish flesh.
  • ¼ of wild caught fish go towards farm grown fish feed.
  • It takes 120 fresh fish made into fish food to raise just one farm raised salmon.
  • 80% of antibiotics used in US are used on animals raised for food. The vast majority of those antibiotics are not used to treat infection but either to prevent them or, more commonly, as a growth stimulant. Because of this significant exposure, 30% of animal farm workers are colonized (meaning it is always in and on their bodies) with MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus), the “flesh-eating bacteria”.
  • Bacteria resistant to ALL antibiotics have recently been found on pig farms. Infections with this bacterium is 50% lethal in humans.
  • 70% of grain grown in US is fed to animals on feedlots.
  • It takes 16 lbs. of grain to produce 1 lb of meat.
  • Factory farm jobs are the most dangerous jobs in the US. More dangerous than being a policeman or fireman!




Pigs are smarter than a 3-year old child. Following chimpanzees, elephants and dolphins, pigs are the smartest animal. Like humans, they are social, learn skills from one another and can complete tasks as a team. Pigs have been known to control a thermostat in a barn. They have unique personalities and can empathize, just like humans. They also communicate quite readily with at least 20 different sounds the combinations of which have different meaning. They have saved fellow pigs as well as other animals and even humans. They display distress when other pigs and even humans suffer. They also forgive. They are much cleaner than we give them credit for. They lack sweat glands and roll in the mud to keep cool. They are actually very clean and fastidious, only pooping and peeing in a specific area in their pens, far away from their food. And this is how we treat them: only 3% ever see the outdoors and piglets are castrated without painkillers.

Chickens like to be cuddled. Chickens are just as remarkable as pigs. They can count and solve  basic arithmetic problems, at the level of a school child. They are remarkably empathetic towards each other and are very social, understanding their role in their groups “pecking order”. They can reason and deduct, abilities humans don’t develop until at least 7 years of age. They also have quite complex communication using visual displays and at least 24 recognized vocalizations. They have self awareness and can take another animal’s perspective, just like advanced primates. They too have very distinct personalities and can recognize up to 100 other chickens, even after long periods of time. And yes, they like to be cuddled and pet by humans.

Cows love classical music. Cows are much more intelligent than they are given credit for. They create complex social order, akin to the pecking order chickens create. They understand cause-and-effect relationships and keep lifelong friendships. They have incredible bonds with their calves. Cows respond to music, in particular classical music. When exposed to classical music, cows produce 3% more milk. Those are the real happy cows.

Fish feel pain. What makes all animals feel pain is the nervous system. Every creature has one. Including fish. They have a very well developed nervous system, strikingly similar to mammals, with the same pain and analgesic compounds that humans have. They have the same kinds of pain receptors humans do. They also experience stress. When a human dies, it’s usually a pretty quick process. Fish, on the other hand, essentially suffocate while in pain for 4-5 minutes. It’s torture. Fish are much smarter than we previously thought. They possess excellent long-term memories, can learn from and cooperate with each other in skills and tasks and can even learn to use tools to achieve goals. They recognize each other and even have friends. They even interact with other species to achieve goals. Fish have been shown to communicate with eels and even water fowl to accomplish tasks. They also experience depression, the same way humans do.




(from One Green Planet)

People love their pets. Dogs and cats, parrots and horses. Most want to treat their pets with the kindness and respect they truly deserve. Farm animals, unfortunately, rarely get treated in this manner. Although they are just as smart, adorable and loving as their dog and cat counterparts, they are still categorized as a “commodity.” Once we acknowledge the how amazing these animals truly are, it becomes harder to justify the ways we abuse them. While it might be uncomfortable to challenge the idea that farm animals are food, when we know what we do about their intelligence and abilities, don’t we owe it them to share the truth?

If you knew that farm animals were as intelligent as your children or pets, would you stop eating meat? If you answered “yes,” then it might be time to do so. From pigs to cows, sheep to chickens, farm animals are all much smarter than we’ve ever given them credit for. Pigs learn their names and can do tricks like a dog. Cows, goats, and chickens all have incredibly complex social constructs, and they have best friends just like we do.

  1. PIGS are highly intelligent and are one of only a few species that can recognize themselves in a mirror, a test of self-awareness. Human children don’t pass this test until around age two! Dogs and cats do not pass the test ever. Not only do pigs recognize themselves, but they also show an understanding of how mirrors work, and can use the reflections to find food. Pigs are also known to play games. They like to play with toys, such a balls, and are prone to getting bored if they aren’t provided with enough stimulation.
  2. COWS have extremely good memories. Not only do they recognize faces, both animal and human, they will remember faces even after a long period of time. They can recognize up to 70 different other cows. Cows also remember where to find the best grazing spots and directions to their favorite watering hole. Cows form strong bonds and friendships with other cows and will even select a “cow clique,” and hang out with only their best friends. Cows have a social hierarchy among the members of their herd. There is typically one cow who is the “boss” and dictates the behavior of her followers. If a cow doesn’t want to listen to this head cow, they are isolated from the herd (just like high school). And when a new cow is introduced to the herd, she has to network and build relationships with other members of the herd before she is fully accepted. Cows are very attached to their young. When dairy cows give birth, their calves are often removed within hours of birth and cows get very stressed, sometimes chasing after their young (watch
  3. CHICKENS have proven that they aren’t necessarily “bird-brained.” Like pigs, chickens can learn to do puzzles and play games. Chickens are quite affectionate and are amazing mothers, taking care of their babies long before they have hatched. It has been found that they “talk” and “purr” to the eggs during incubation. When the chicks hatch, hens are even more loving. They defend their babies from predators, show empathy for their chicks teaching their young everything they need to know including what is safe to eat and what to avoid. They also teach them about the social hierarchy, or “pecking order”. Baby chicks show signs of intelligence right from the beginning. They are known to show object permanence, the ability to understand an object exists, even when they can’t see it. Chicks develop this ability when they are around two days old, while it takes human babies six months to learn this skill.
  4. SHEEP have gained the reputation of being unintelligent followers who don’t ask questions however, this is just not true! Sheep are also capable of recognizing all kinds of faces. They recognize sheep in their flock and are aware when these sheep are missing. They can recognize “bully” sheep, and get distressed when they come around. These sheep can even recognize the person who cares for them and the sheepdog that herds them! If the appearance of another individual is altered, the sheep have no problem still identifying who it is, and they can keep track of over 50 different sheep faces! If you make a sheep mad, chances are they are going to remember you and that event for over two years!
  5. GOATS never cease to make us smile with their sheer enthusiasm for life. It turns out that goats aren’t only adorable, but they are incredibly good at problem and puzzle solving, including those designed to test primates. They’re determination plus aptitude for challenges allows them to apply these problem-solving skills to help them get to food other animals wouldn’t be able to reach. Goats in Morocco, for example, are known to climb trees to reach the tastiest branches.




  1. BROWN BEARS. Male brown bears often kill cubs fathered by another male of the same species, in order to mate with more females, increasing their progeny. One-third of brown bear cubs die during mating season with 90% of those deaths being from a male bear looking to mate. Female brown bears have adapted to raising their cubs closer to humans, keeping scared males away. This act of using a “human shield” gives the cubs a greater chance of survival
  2. LIONS. Lionesses run the world of big cats. They make up the majority of the pride, hunt for the males, and take care of their cubs. During mating season, multiple female members of the pride will give birth at the same time and nurse their cubs for up to 2 years. Like some other species, lionesses will care for other females’ cubs in the pride, but not just to babysit; lactating moms will let any of the pride’s offspring nurse from them. It takes a village!
  3. PIGS are not only incredibly smart, emotive, and very chatty, they’re also great mothers. Pigs have dozens of distinctive grunts, including specific ones to call their piglets, the human equivalent of names! Piglets learn to recognize their mothers’ voices after only two weeks. Like many human mothers, pigs build strong relationships with their babies and get anxious when separated from them. When nursing, mother pigs have even been known to sing to their piglets
  4. ELEPHANTS endure 22 months of pregnancy and give birth to 200-pound babies and female elephants stay with their mothers their entire lives. The largest land mammal on the earth has one of the strongest bonds between her calf. The herds they live in are matriarchal, often consisting of mothers, sisters, and calves and led by an elder female. Mother elephants select several relatives as “babysitters” for their calves so they can enjoy eating in peace, every mother’s dream. The phenomenon called “allomothering,” sisters, aunts and any other females will help care for the baby, giving mom a much-needed break.
  5. ORCAS. Like elephants, orcas have a long gestation period lasting 17 months. Similarly, their calves, but both male and female, stay with them their entire lives. While male orcas will mate with females from other pods, they always return to their original pods where their mother orcas coddle their sons. Orca mothers continue to help grown sons fight off predators and find food long into adulthood. Many males often die one year after their mothers do. This extended involvement in their offspring’s life is one of the reasons orcas are one of the few species of animals, including humans and pilot whales, to have extended post-menopausal life.
  6. CHICKENS. Like pigs, chickens have many vocalizations, including specific calls for alerting their flock when predators are nearby, and chicks can let their mothers know when they’re uncomfortable. While that’s impressive, mother hens use their vocalizations to do something sweeter; mother hens chirp to their chicks before they’re born. What’s more, the chicks chirp back inside the eggs. Incredible mothers, chickens have even been videotaped shielding their babies from the rain.
  7. OPOSSUM moms are better than a minivan. Known for giving birth to large litters, they can have as many as 15 babies clutching to moms fur. When the babies are younger, they live in their mom’s pouch and then switch to her back for a ride as they grow up.
  8. POLAR BEAR moms sacrifice their lifestyle and freedom gaining over 200 pounds and spending 9 months holed up in a tiny den in preparation for birth where she then goes 4-8 months without eating. She gives birth while in the den in isolation. When Spring arrives around March, she leads her cubs out to the ice to hunt seals. This is the beginning of a two-and-a-half year period where the cubs stick closely by her side.
  9. ORANGUTANS‘ unbreakable, nurturing bond lasts decades. But this bond isn’t just when they are young. As orangutans grow, they learn everything from foraging to nest-building from their mothers. They spend 6-7 years with mom, but even after they move out of the nest, female orangutans will often “visit” their mothers until they reach the age of 15 or 16.
  10. EMPEROR PENGUINS  literally walk 50 miles for their babies. After she lays an egg, an emperor penguin mom will walk 50 miles, in the most incredibly cold and windy conditions, to the ocean to catch fish and then return to regurgitate that fish to the hatched chick. The male, who has been keeping the chick warm while mom was away, passes the chick back to the feet of the female, who keeps him tucked close to her body to avoid the cold, which can kill a chick in just two minutes. Penguin moms have also been observed grieving for her young chick. Because they only lay one egg each year, the chicks are incredibly valuable to penguin moms.
  11. OCTOPUS moms will starve herself for her babies. For most animals, just one baby to raise is enough. For octopuses, 200,000 is the mark to hit. In one of the astounding examples of altruism in the animal kingdom, she lays eggs just once, and guards the clutch ferociously. She cares for the eggs for one month, never leaving, not even for food. They have even been observed eating their own tentacles, rather than leaving their offspring. The eggs hatch and float away, while the mom will often die, starved or too weak to defend against predators.
  12. ALLIGATORS carry her babies in her giant jaws. The inside of an alligator’s mouth is not where an animal wants to be, unless you’re an alligator hatchling. That’s exactly where you want to be. She carries the babies in her mouth to protect them from predators like herons and skunks. She will stay with her babies for about a year, coming to protect them whenever they call out, and even providing free rides.

Inter-species Adoption. Biologically, it doesn’t make much sense for animals to adopt the young of other species, but there are many examples of it in the animal world! One example of animals adopting offspring from another species is an infant marmoset adopted by a Capuchin group in 2004. The infant had two Capuchin adopted mothers and was tolerated by the rest of the group. In 2019, a bottle-nose dolphin was spotted with her biological calf and adopted whale calf. He rarely left his adopted mother’s side and even took on some bottle-nose dolphin behavior like surfing, jumping, and socializing with other males. Dolphins have been known to kidnap calves of other species!



People often will avoid eating veal, claiming that they are opposed to how veal are treated and as well as the fact that they are killed as babies. Although they certainly lead tortured lives, they are not the only animals killed at a young age. ALL animals are killed many years before their natural lifespans, but almost all types of meat are killed at infant or “childhood” stages. They have been either bred or genetically modified to grow at incredibly unnatural rates, improving the “efficiency” and profitability of the factory farms they are raised on.

  • Veal. In addition to being confined in impossibly cramped and malnourished situations, they are killed anywhere from 1 day old to 24 weeks (6 months). Cows can live more than 20 years naturally.
  • Chickens (for eggs). They are considered “spent” within 1-2 years and are killed for meat or are ground into food for other animals to eat. Chickens can live 8 years naturally in the wild, but in captivity without natural predators, as long as 20 years.
  • Male chicks in egg laying facilities are killed immediately, usually by grinding them alive. In some facilities, they are gathered up and gassed to death on the first day of life.
  • Chickens (for meat). Live only 7 weeks before they are killed.
  • Cows (dairy). Are also considered “spent” and are then killed between 4-5 years.
  • Pigs are killed for their meat by 6 months.
  • Cattle for meat are killed by 2 years.
  • Turkeys, which can live for 15 years, are killed by 5 months.
  • Salmon. Although in the wild, they can live for 7 years, in farms, they are killed between 2-3 years. Much earlier in those farms where genetically modified salmon are being raised.
  • Trout. They are killed between 1-2 years but can live to 11 in the wild.




Each year up to 300 million male chicks in the U.S. are killed almost immediately after hatching by the egg and meat industries. This controversial practice occurs in hatcheries around the world, resulting in the death of an estimated 6 to 7 billion day-old birds.

Animal protection groups have opposed the practice for decades and the U.S. egg industry lags behind European nations in taking the first steps to change how it treats male chicks. There are some encouraging signs of progress however, as science offers promising alternatives.

What Is Culling?

Technically, culling is the process of segregating (separating) organisms from a group according to desired or undesired characteristics. In animal breeding, it is the process of removing or segregating animals from a breeding stock based on a specific trait. This term has evolved to more acceptably describe the killing of animals which are undesirable. In animal agriculture, including the chicken industry, the term is used to describe the killing of farmed animals earlier than the animals would have been slaughtered for human consumption, using various methods. Culling is done for multiple reasons, including in the cases of sick and injured animals deemed unfit for human consumption and who are at risk of infecting other animals or humans. Examples include the  50 million birds killed in 2022 to stem the epidemic of avian flu, and the 43 million pigs killed in 2018 to slow down swine flu. In most cases however, culling is done to remove traits that are considered undesirable. In the case of chicks born in egg or chicken hatcheries, they are culled for simply being male!

Male chicks, are culled the same day the birds are born into hatcheries, considered to be surplus animals. Workers called chicken “sexers” sort through the birds to determine their sex by squeezing out their anal vents in order to examine their genitalia. It is often inaccurate and must happen very quickly as birds continue to move down the line. Male chicks who are culled after hatching are not used for human consumption, but are sometimes used as food for other animals, including captive reptiles and birds of prey.

Chickens, like most farmed animals, are no longer considered babies when they are slaughtered for human consumption, but they are still slaughtered at a very young age. For chickens raised in the poultry industry, that age is around 4 to 6 weeks old. If left protected and properly cared for, they can live as long as 12 years! Starting their short lives in hatcheries, chickens are then sent to grow-out farms where they will quickly reach their target market weight, before they are ultimately transported in crates, over long distances and in extreme weather conditions, to slaughterhouses. Some birds, though, will not survive their breeding for rapid growth or the conditions on factory farms long enough to reach market weight. These animals will likely be culled while still at the grow-out farm. 

Male chicks hatched into the egg industry, who cannot lay eggs like female chickens, are also considered useless to the chicken meat industry because in modern factory farms, the broiler chickens raised for meat are from different breeds to the layer hens who produce eggs. Layer hens are not bred to grow unnaturally large and fast like broilers, so these chicks will never produce enough meat to be considered profitable. 

Several different methods are used by the egg and poultry industries to cull day-old chickens, many of which have long been opposed by animal advocacy groups and some veterinarians. 

SUFFOCATION. The most prolonged method of culling is suffocation, in which birds are left in large plastic bags piled under many other bags of chicks. The animals struggle to breathe in the crowded bags as they slowly die.

ELECTROCUTION. Some chicks are shocked with electrical currents. This method of culling is far less common than others. Electrocution is considered by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to be a “humane” method of killing companion animals if they are unconscious, but male chicks culled after hatching are fully conscious and not given any pain relief. The birds are electrocuted by putting them in a water bath and applying an electrical current. Just like in the horror movies when someone throws a toaster into a bathtub while someone is bathing. A bird may be electrically stun-killed by applying a current at a frequency and amplitude that causes unconsciousness and simultaneously stimulates cardiac muscle into ventricular fibrillation resulting in death by cardiac arrest in a stunned bird. But as mentioned above, this is rarely as simple and certainly not as painless as it sounds.

CERVICAL DISLOCATION. This is the most commonly used method of culling chickens, and is done either manually or with the use of equipment. A bird is held by the wings or legs while their neck is quickly and forcefully stretched as the head is pulled away from the body, resulting in the internal separation of the spinal cord and brainstem. Research shows that cervical dislocation may not cause immediate unconsciousness, and it needs to be performed by a trained worker who can judge when to use tools and when manual dislocation is appropriate. Because of the gruesome stresses of this job, there is so much turnover that most of these workers are not properly trained.

GASSING. Some chicks are culled using strong concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2). In addition to hypercapnia (high CO2 levels) in the bloodstream, the birds die of hypoxia, low oxygen levels in the tissues of the body. Chicks do not immediately lose consciousness and experience extreme distress before doing so. 

MACERATION. In the maceration process, chicks are dropped into a machine called a grinder or macerator, where they are shredded alive by sharp, rotating metal blades. This is the most well-known method of chick culling, due to its common use and due to the upsetting nature of investigative imagery showing newly hatched chicks falling from conveyor belts into the running machinery.  Proponents argue that maceration provides a quick death, as chicks are immediately ground by the blades, but because so many chicks are dropped in at such a fast rate, the machine gets overloaded and often needs a few rounds of the blades for the chicks to be fully killed. In the meantime, they have various parts amputated and clearly feel extreme pain and terror.

France and Germany have become the first countries in the world to announce a ban on the culling of chicks. However, as is the case with all positive changes, they will be implemented slowly over years and there are already many industry challenges in place opposing these changes. Why would they challenge positive change? Because changes cost money. Globally, 7 billion chickens are culled annually. If France and Germany are successful in establishing their full bans on culling, up to 100 million chicks a year will be impacted by the transition to a technology called “in-ovo sexing”, in which the sex of the chick can be determined while still developing in the egg. 10-20% of Europe’s hens now come from “cull-free hatcheries” utilizing in-ovo sexing. But note that researchers believe male chicks could be capable of feeling pain by day 7 of incubation. This means that even in-ovo culling will not completely prevent animal suffering if done too late in the incubation period. 

While there have been some signs suggesting an end to the practice of culling male chicks, industry reform has been excruciatingly slow. In 2016, the United Egg Producers, which represents approximately 90% of the U.S. egg industry, committed to transition to in ovo sexting, and other similar technologies, thereby ending the culling of male chicks by preventing their hatching. However, the trade organization has since walked back this pledge, its CEO stating that it is still working to “find an ethical, economically feasible alternative.” The statement acknowledged that in-ovo sexing is now used to some extent in France and Germany, but claims that “regular reporting to egg industry leaders worldwide indicates that a method that meets the food safety, ethical standards and scalable solutions needed for the United States is not yet available” despite the obvious fact that it is.

What You Can Do? You can sign petitions promoting these technologies and condemning culling. We always wonder what one voice can do, but if everyone got past that notion, everyone individually would add up to a lot of voices cumulatively. Ultimately, you can stop eating eggs. They are loaded with cholesterol adding to atherosclerosis, vascular disease and dementia and studies show that even just one egg a day increases risks of developing diabetes by 30%. The market responds to demand. The shift away from daily milk has resulted in significant increases in milk wastage, a sign of reduced consumption. Eventually, this will result in fewer dairy cows being tortured. Less egg consumption would result in smaller bird flocks as well.




Modern cattle are descendants of the wild ox, also known as Aurochs, which used to roam most of the world. They have been extinct since the 17th century and were domesticated starting around 10,000 years ago. Today, their descendants are represented by over 1000 breeds of cattle. In the 1800’s, dairy cows produced about 1000 liters of milk annually. Through selective breeding and forced pregnancy and lactation, that average is now 10,000 liters a year.

As we have co-existed with cattle and our reliance, along with our close co-existence with them increased, we started sharing diseases with them as well. There are 15 cattle diseases with zoonotic (diseases passed between different species) potential in the United States, some of which are more common than others. They include anthrax, brucellosis, cryptosporidiosis, dermatophilosis, Escherichia coli, giardiasis, leptospirosis, listeriosis, pseudo-cowpox, Q fever, rabies, ringworm, salmonellosis, and even tuberculosis. It is no surprise that vaccines were first started with cows as well. Smallpox vaccine, the first successful vaccine to be developed, was introduced by Edward Jenner in 1796. He followed up his observation that milkmaids who had previously caught cowpox did not later catch smallpox by showing that inoculated cowpox protected against smallpox. The name “vaccine” itself is derived from the word for cow. “Vache” is a cow in French. “Vaccanus” is a cow in Latin. Vacca is a cow in Spanish. For more information about our history and the evolution of cows, click this link: OUR HISTORY WITH COWS

Although they can live for 20 years, most cows are slaughtered long before that, usually around 6 years of age. They can start giving birth at 2-3 years and they are forced to do so as soon as is possible. They are intelligent creatures with a hierarchical social structure and they communicate by touch, smell, vocalization and body language, just like any other mammal. They can distinguish and identify up to 70 different other cows. They cry for their offspring just like we do also.

Dairy cows must remain pregnant to produce milk. They are kept in a pregnant state for 75% of their lives. As soon as their milk production drops off, they are immediately sold for slaughter, usually by 6 years of age.  The living conditions, torture and abuse they endure is pretty sad but most people don’t know about it or sadly, they don’t want to know. Some of the physical procedures they endure often with no anesthesia or pain medications afterwards include: 

  • De-budding – removal of their horns using chemical or electrical burning.
  • Teat removal – extra nipples are common and are usually just cut off with scissors and cauterized (burned).
  • Tail docking – the cutting of their tail either with a hot iron, crushing or banding. This is done because of the false belief that it is more hygienic for them.
  • Castration – done as early as 8 days old. Usually performed surgically by removing the testicles or by crushing the spermatic cord.

Dairy cows are kept in very tight, enclosed cages from the day they are born until the time they are sold for slaughter. This is a short document outlining The Life of Dairy Cows.

Cows are gentle animals who are affectionate, emotional and intelligent. Mahatma Gandhi described a cow as “a poem of compassion.” Cows are certainly deserving of our compassion as well as our understanding and respect. Here are some of their well identified characteristics:

  • COWS ARE SMART. The idea that cows are dumb is a myth. Cows are actually very intelligent, curious and able to think critically and solve problems. Cows learn associations and use past experiences to determine their future actions. Faced with a challenge, cows get very excited with elevated heart rates and brainwaves.  They even jump in the air as if they are yelling, “I did it!”. Watch this video to see this joyous behavior.
  • COWS REMEMBER EVERYTHING. Cows have great memories and are very good at remembering and recognizing faces (as many as 70 different ones) even after long periods of time. Cows also have good spatial memory. They can remember where things are located such as food, water, shelter, best grazing spots and most importantly, the location of their babies.
  • COWS ARE HIGHLY EMOTIONAL even demonstrating mood swings. They are unhappy when the weather is bad and practically smiling when it’s sunny outside. Like humans, cows seek pleasure and love to play. When let outside after being cooped up for too long, cows run, prance and jump with joy. Sometimes cows just want to be left alone, isolating themselves from others. Cows can be moody and sensitive. They may dislike certain individuals and can hold a grudge for years against other cows and people who have crossed them.
  • COWS FORM CLOSE FRIENDSHIPS choosing to spend much of their time with just a few preferred individuals. They even have best friends and when separated from them, their stress levels increase. Cows help each other, learn from each other and make decisions based on compassion and altruism. They even form grooming partnerships where they can do each other’s hair.
  • COWS CAN BE POPULAR having a social hierarchy and there is often one cow in the herd who is seen as the “boss” and who dictates behavior to the rest of the cows. Any cows that don’t follow the leader will become isolated from the herd. When new cows are introduced to a well-established herd, she will have to network and build relationships until she is accepted into the pack.
  • COWS LOVE THEIR BABIES having strong maternal bonds and are attentive, protective and loving parents. When allowed, a mother cow may nurse her calf for as long as three years. The mother-child bond continues after weaning and they remain close to each other for life. There is also a sense of maternal community as other cows in the herd will help nurture calves if necessary. When their calves are removed, even if within a few hours of birth, cows will cry out and bellow for them for as long as 2 weeks.
  • COWS GRIEVE DEEPLY. When a calf is taken away, the mother will cry and bellow for hours, even days, and fall into a deep depression. Mother cows will search for their babies, visibly distressed, just as the calves cry for their mother.
  • COWS SAY MORE THAN “MOO”. They do “moo” to communicate but they also use different body positions, direct bodily contact, gestures and facial expressions. Cows also mimic each other’s actions. If one cow gets up from eating and starts walking across the field, other cows may get up and follow.
  • ARE AFFECTIONATE AND FORGIVING. Cows love to be petted, stroked and scratched behind the ears. They are loving and welcome interactions with kind people. Even cows who have been mistreated or abused in the past can heal over time, forgive and learn to trust people again.

Read the full article about cows here.




Pigs can play video games, smell things 5-7 miles away, recognize human faces, and solve multiple-choice questions. Pigs are highly intelligent, social, clean, and empathetic beings with individual personalities and their own language. Our misconceptions about pigs largely stem from their behavior when confined and stressed within the animal agriculture industry. This is the case in all types of caged animals. Free from such conditions, pigs are able to engage in play, socialize, and exhibit their individuality.

Pigs often get mischaracterized as smelly, filthy, and gluttonous. We use terms like “chauvinist pig,” call a messy room a “pigsty,” and say “I’m sweating like a pig” when pigs can’t even sweat!

Here are a few preconceptions with ten surprising facts about pigs.

  1. Pigs Are Highly Intelligent. Pigs are often ranked as one of the most intelligent species, possessing cognitive abilities shared with dolphins, chimpanzees, elephants, and even humans. Pigs are in general much smarter than dogs and have an intelligence and cognitive abilities greater than that of a 3 year old human. While pigs have long demonstrated their complex cognition, every time a new study emerges, we seem surprised all over again by their intelligence. As early as 1915, studies showed that pigs could solve multiple-choice problems. In addition to learning video game play as quickly as chimpanzees, pigs can use mirrors to find hidden objects, understand the passage of time, and anticipate future events.

    Remarkably, they are also able to assume what other pigs can or can’t see, and what knowledge other pigs possess. This is an indication of a high level cognitive capacity called “visual perspective taking.” For example, pigs understand when another pig is “in the know” about a secret food site and will follow them to get a treat. In turn, the pigs “in the know” will practice “tactical deception” by avoiding the hidden food while other pigs are around.

    Their ability to use mirrors is a sign of sophisticated cognitive processing and an indication of self-awareness once thought to be limited to humans, other primates, elephants, dolphins, magpies, and African Grey parrots.

    Pigs have even been observed using tools, an ability which scientists believe may have been passed down from a mother to her offspring and mate, who were also seen using tools.

    Pigs can recognize human faces, know when humans are ignoring them, and understand non-verbal cues and symbolic language.
  2. Pigs Have Their Own Language. Pigs have their own vocal language of oinks, squeals, screams, and grunts. The sounds they make convey a wide range of information such as their emotional, motivational and physiological states. There are around 20 distinct sounds in pigs’ vocal communication that we humans have recognized thus far. They make short grunts when excited, squeal when afraid, and scream when they’re hurt. Male pigs sing courting songs to females, and mother pigs can recognize their piglets by sound alone. The sounds pigs make vary with their personalities.
  3. Pigs Have Personalities. Anyone who’s known a pig won’t actually be surprised to hear they have personalities. Pigs have individual likes and dislikes, just like we do. Some pigs are more outgoing, while others are more shy. Some pigs are eager to explore their surroundings, while others prefer to hang around familiar places. When interviewed for one study, even farmers raising pigs for slaughter described the pigs’ various personality traits. But to really see a porcine personality in all its glory, visit a farmed animal sanctuary where pigs are free to live their best lives!
  4. Pigs Are Super Social & Make Friends With Other Animals. Pigs are very social animals and form tight bonds. Like dogs, pigs run up to greet friends of any species with wagging tails and happy noises. The complexity of their social structure and awareness of other individuals is similar to other highly intelligent animals. Pigs can differentiate between members of their own species as early as six weeks old and can also tell the difference between humans. Pigs prefer familiar friends over strangers, and extend their social circles to other species.
  5. Pigs Are Inventive With Play. Pigs play in many of the same ways dogs do. They wrestle, play fight, jump, and chase. They zoom around excitedly just like dogs do. They play with toys, with water and with each other. They’re even inventive with play, figuring out how to mudslide down a mountain just for the sheer joy of it! Play is essential to the development of all animals, humans included. Pigs raised with the opportunity to play are more cognitively and socially developed than those confined for animal agriculture.
  6. Pigs Have Long-Term & Episodic Memory. Even newborn piglets have good short and long-term memories. Pigs also exhibit what’s called episodic memory, a type of long-term memory specific to one’s personal experiences throughout one’s life. Our episodic memory is what gives us a sense of self through time. It’s our autobiographical memory, our personal history, rather than facts and figures we’ve memorized. Studies have shown pigs understand the passage of time, remember specific events and can anticipate future events, all of which indicate they may possess “a sense of self through time” and are capable of “planning for the future.”
  7. Pigs Are Very Clean. Perhaps the most persistent misconception about pigs is that they’re dirty.  In reality, pigs are one the cleanest animals.This impression is mainly due to their practice of wallowing in mud to cool down. Pigs can’t sweat, so they have to use mud or water to regulate their body temperature. Believe it or not, pigs are very adept swimmers! When given the choice, pigs never “go to the bathroom” where they live. Even piglets as young as six days old make sure to “go potty” away from their bedding. It’s only when confined in small spaces that pigs have no choice but to eliminate where they live.
  8. Mother Pigs Sing to Their Babies. Perhaps the most endearing fact about pigs is that mother pigs sing to their babies while nursing. Scientists believe mother pigs sing these songs to guide their piglets’ nursing so that it synchronizes with their milk production. That way, they get the most out of every meal. Mother pigs can determine which of their piglets is in the most need based solely on the calls they make, and will respond to their cries differently and more intensely than those from piglets who are doing fine. Sows are devoted mothers, and fiercely protective of their babies. This powerful bond is destroyed in the animal products industries, where piglets are taken from their mothers within days or weeks of their birth.
  9. Pigs Are Empathetic. Pigs exhibit what’s called “emotional contagion” which means they pick up on the emotional state of those around them. We know that pigs are capable of assuming what other pigs know, and what they can or can’t see (perspective taking). Research shows they also share and match emotional experiences with one another. We’ve all experienced someone else making us feel uneasy with their nervousness, or lifted up with their joy. Pigs also pick up on each other’s fear, excitement, nervousness, or delight.
  10. Why We Are So Wrong About Pigs. Given all of these incredible facts, why do we have so many misconceptions about pigs? Our perception of pigs largely stems from our treatment of them as “food animals,” and their resulting behavior and characteristics when confined and stressed within the animal products industries. Within these industries, pigs are deprived of the space, socialization, mental stimulation, clean environment, and emotional stability they need to thrive. Every creature needs suck freedoms. As we learned, pigs perform admirably on intelligence tests, are super social, and have strong memories, however, their social and cognitive abilities are impacted by their environment, just like humans and other animals. Pigs raised in the animal agriculture industries suffer cognitive and long-term memory impairment, display behavioral abnormalities, and are even driven mad by the conditions. We know pigs are every bit as sensitive, sentient, and emotive as dogs, and highly intelligent. Yet for most people, it’s horrifying to imagine a beloved dog in the same conditions we subject pigs to.

These incredible beings deserve more from us. And the good news is, we can choose to no longer exploit them.




100 million pigs are raised and slaughtered annually in the US. Not only are pigs killed for food, but also for high school and medical school science classes where fetuses are commonly dissected. Torturing them is also commonly done, especially in the south in such blood sports as “hog baiting” where dogs are unleashed on pigs and they are mauled to death.

Pigs are commonly thought of as dirty, stupid animals but nothing could be farther from the truth. They are very curious and intelligent and have the equivalent mental capacity of a 3-year-old human, far more intelligent than dogs. They are vocal, recognize each other as well as their offspring, even years after being separated for many years. They even recognize and react to humans, both ones they like and ones they do not, again even after many years of separation. They are loyal. They love to play. They form complex social units with a structured hierarchy. Mother pigs sing to their young when they are feeding. As mentioned above, they are the only animal able to recognize itself in a mirror, a sign of “self-awareness”. They are also able to use a mirrors reflection to localize food.

There are many phrases in the American vernacular that are associated with the misconceptions about pigs. These phrases propagate these misconceptions, in the same way that previously commonly used words and phrases referring to humans are no longer used because they are no longer “politically correct”. Here are a few examples:

Filthy Pig”. Pigs are actually quite clean and will refuse to poop or pee anywhere near their food. They designate a special place in their pens for excrement. As far as rolling in the mud, there are actually very good and practical reasons for that.

Sweat like a pig”. They lack functional sweat glands, so this characterization is also completely inaccurate. They roll in water and mud since the evaporative process helps to keep them cool. In addition, the mud acts as a sunscreen as well as a natural bug repellent.

Eat like a pig” or “Fat pig”. Actually, if left to their own devices, pigs do not overeat. They are great foragers but do not eat to excess, just like most other animals in the animal kingdom. In fact, the only animals on the planet who become obese and develop chronic diseases are humans and the animals/pets/agricultural animals we keep and “care for”. Pigs have been bred to become huge for increased mass and financial gain. Most commercially raised pigs get to slaughter weight, about 250 lbs., by 6 months of age! If they are left to continue to eat and grow, they become so massive that their legs break under the stress of their own weight. Pigs are fed various chemicals such as hormones and antibiotics to stimulate growth. There is an appropriately named food additive called Hogcrave which stimulates them to overeat.

Some other common phrases include “Capitalist pig”, “Self righteous pig”, “Squeal like a stuck pig”, “Bleed like a stuck pig”, “Road hog”, “Make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”, “Male Chauvinist pig”, “Pig Out”, “Pig stye”, “Hog the limelight”. These phrases are all inaccurate, insulting and promote misconceptions which denigrate these wonderful animals.




As you can surmise from some of the statistics mentioned above and on my Environment page, we have decimated the oceans not only from a pollution standpoint but also with respect to how we have killed the majority of the sea-life which occupy it. We make many assumptions about fish which are simply wrong. I suspect that in most cases, we really do know better but we just don’t want to know, just like with all other farm-raised animals. As long as it makes it to our plates, we don’t care how it got there. Here are a few common misconceptions:

  • We think they have only a 3 second memory but Sockeye Salmon recall every detail of their birth river.  Years later, they make their way back there when it’s their time to spawn. The same is true of Goldfish.
  • We think they can’t smell but the American Eel can detect one millionth of a drop of home water in an Olympic sized pool.
  • We think they can’t hear but Koi will grow faster if the music of Mozart and Beethoven is played for them.
  • We think they can’t use tools but Trigger Fish will pick up stones and knock on the side of a tank to let you know that it’s feeding time.
  • We think they can’t feel pain but we evolved from the same common ancestors. A hook through a fish’s cheek will hurt a Cod just like it hurts you. Fish will avoid parts of their tanks where electric shocks have been introduced.
  • We think that they are not smart but in fact, in many areas such as memory, the cognitive powers match or exceed those of higher vertebrates, including nonhuman primates

They have organized social structure, care for their young, feel emotions, communicate in various, unique ways and have every right to live as we do.

How long is a goldfish’s memory?

There is a popular belief that goldfish only have a 3 second memory. But, the humble goldfish may not only have a longer memory than most people think, but may also be far smarter.

If you own a goldfish there’s a good chance it remembers you for much longer than 3 seconds. 

Quite a simple and elegant experiment conducted by a 15-year-old school boy debunked the theory that goldfish don’t remember longer than a few seconds. When he would feed his pet goldfish he would put a red piece of Lego in their fish tank, and would sprinkle food around the Lego block. At first the fish seemed scared of the block, but after a couple weeks the goldfish learned that the red block meant that food was coming, and would swim straight towards it. After the goldfish seemed to learn what the block meant, he then stopped using the Lego piece for 1 week. He then re-introduced the block, and the fish swam straight towards it in anticipation of food.

In another experiment researchers trained young goldfish by playing a certain sound during feeding time. These goldfish were then released into the ocean. About 6 months later the researchers played the sound again over a loudspeaker and many of the goldfish returned to where the sound was playing. Again much longer than the 3 second myth would have you believe.

How smart are goldfish?

Scientists think that many fish are smarter than we give credit for. Many biologists think that fish are actually quite intelligent. A biologist from the University of In many areas, such as memory, the cognitive powers of fish match or exceed those of higher vertebrates, including nonhuman primates. Goldfish have shown that they have an ability to learn and process information. Pet goldfish can distinguish between humans, and often recognize the human that regularly feeds them. Pet goldfish can also seem quite scared of new people, but become more comfortable with their owners over time as they realize they aren’t a threat. Goldfish have also been taught to do relatively complex tasks like swimming through mazes, or pushing a ball into a net. This means that goldfish not only have the ability to recall information, such as its owner that feeds it, but also have the capacity for more complex processing and cognition.

They may not look smart but goldfish have been trained to perform quite complex tasks. 

Many people have a preconceived notion that evolution is linear, meaning fish evolved into reptiles, which evolved into mammals, then primates and lastly humans. They assume that, being lowest in that scheme, fish must be less intelligent than all animals that came after it, but that’s not really how evolution works. Yes, 400 million years ago there was a prehistoric fish that crawled out of water, which over millions of years eventually evolved in humans. But, fish are not the same as they were 400 million years ago. Scientists think that fish have evolved over millions of years to remember things like where they can find food, and what a predator does and doesn’t look like, in the same way they recognize their owner is not a threat and will give them food.

While they’re definitely not the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom, goldfish are definitely more intelligent than the 3 second memory myth gives them credit for.

What A Fish Knows”  Johnathan Balcomb

Fish are much more intelligent, social and interactive than we realize






We have a lot of deeply rooted misconceptions about what animals can and can’t do. Goldfish do have a good memory. Pigs are not dirty, and in fact are one of the cleanest animals. The same goes for turkeys. Every year, close to 46 million turkeys are slaughtered for Thanksgiving alone. We know these social birds are far more than a centerpiece at a holiday table. They’re sentient beings that deserve to live out their natural lives to the fullest.

Every year, ahead of Thanksgiving, 1-2 turkeys are pardoned by the President of the United States. They usually look healthy, they have sweet endearing names like Peanut Butter and Jelly, and the whole ceremony is light-hearted and jovial. But while this tradition makes light of turkey farming, and can make it seem like all turkeys on farms live happy, healthy lives, this is not the reality.

In the US, 99% of all farmed animals live on factory farms. The same study noted that one concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) can keep roughly 55,000 turkeys. On these industrialized factory farms, the birds are packed in tightly together with little room to move around or express any natural behaviors.

Turkeys on factory farms are often kept in sheds without windows, just like factory farmed chickens. This type of environment is not supportive of their natural behaviors and instincts. In the wild, turkeys are playful, curious, and they like to explore and forage. On industrialized farms, none of this is possible. This environment can lead to turkeys becoming physically and mentally unwell. They have been known to become aggressive towards each other because of the stress, pecking out feathers, for example. Because of this, many farmers choose to engage in beak tipping, which is when the turkey’s beak is cut in an attempt to reduce injury. This surgical procedure is done without anesthesia. Imagine someone cutting off the tip of your nose without any anesthesia. Their beaks may look tough, but they have many nerve endings.

Turkeys are also bred to grow as big as possible, as quickly as possible, so that people can buy big turkeys for their holiday table. Because of their unnatural size, their legs can break underneath them, and they can die from organ failure at an early age. The same happens in chicken breeding facilities.

Turkey isn’t just eaten at Thanksgiving, but all year round. This means that roughly 245 million turkeys are raised and slaughtered every year in the US. But, of course, they reach peak popularity at Thanksgiving, which is why more than 46 million turkeys (10%) die in the lead up to the holiday.

Turkeys are intelligent, compassionate, and sensitive animals, and they have a rich and interesting history, particularly in the US. 

We should celebrate them, not make them part of the celebratory feasts we consume. Here are 12 intereting turkey facts: 

  1. The American turkey is named after the country Turkey due to a case of mistaken identity. An African bird called the guinea fowl (which resembles the American turkey) was brought to Europe through Turkish lands by the Portuguese. Europeans called these birds ‘turkish chicken’ or ‘turkey cock.’ When Europeans saw a similar-looking bird in North America, they thought it was the same fowl and the name turkey cock, later shortened to turkey, remained. 
  2. Turkeys were revered in ancient Mexican cultures. In 300 B.C, Mayan religious imagery depicts turkeys as representations of God, and they are worshiped as symbols of power and prestige. 
  3. Wild turkeys were at the brink of extinction. In the early 1900’s, the population of wild turkeys hit a record low of nearly 30,000 birds as a result of pervasive hunting. Fortunately, effective restoration programs were introduced and the populations recovered. 
  4. You can tell a Turkey’s mood by looking at them. The ability to change color is not unique to chameleons and octopi. Turkeys literally show their true colors, too. The skin on a turkey’s head (the snood) and the skin under their throat (the wattle) can change between shades of red, white and blue depending on how stressed, agitated, calm, or excited they are.  
  5. Individual turkeys have a unique voice and a wide range of at least 20 different vocalizations. Turkeys are able to identify individuals by their voice which is how they recognize one another. Apparently, not all gobbles sound the same in turkey talk. Each vocalization has a distinct meaning ranging from a cordial greeting to a warning of danger.  
  6. Wild turkeys can fly short distances but most domesticated turkeys cannot. Descendants of the wild turkey have been bred into the large, domesticated birds that we see today in order to increase meat yield for human consumption. This unnaturally large size is not conducive for flight and eventually not even conducive to walking properly. Trim turkeys left to roam and forage on their own are lighter which allows them to take to the air, if only for less than 100 yards.  
  7. Male turkeys put up an elaborate spectacle to attract a mate. Often called Toms or Gobblers, male turkeys puff up their bodies and spread their tail feathers in a grand display, simultaneously strutting to the sound of their own grunts and gobbles. The more outlandish the presentation, the more irresistible they seem!  
  8. One can tell a turkey’s gender by their poop shape. Female droppings have a spiral shape while males have ‘J’ shaped poops. This has to do with the difference in reproductive anatomy of the cloaca, the common opening birds have for reproductive and digestive purposes.  
  9. Benjamin Franklin thought turkeys were more majestic than eagles. If Ben Franklin had his way, America’s national bird might be the turkey. In a letter he wrote to his daughter in 1784, Franklin praised the turkey as “a much more respectable bird” and “a true original native of America.” On the contrary, he wrote that the eagle was “a bird of bad moral character,” “does not get his living honestly,” and is “too lazy to fish for himself.” 
  10. Turkeys swallow stones to aid digestion.  Anyone who has seen Moana may recall her sidekick, Hei Hei, attempting to eat a large stone. While the writers exaggerated the characteristic for comedic effect, there’s actually some truth to it. Turkeys don’t have teeth, so they swallow small stones to help grind up food in their first stomach, the gizzard. Bonus fact: turkeys have two stomachs.  
  11. Turkeys are highly intelligent and sensitive birds. Owing to their intelligence, turkeys can remember precise details of an area even after a year of absence. Turkeys also have incredible emotional intelligence. They express empathy for other birds, form lasting social bonds, display affection, and even purr when they feel content and comforted.  
  12. Turkeys have superpowers. Turkeys have keen hearing even though they lack external ears. Instead, they have small holes behind their eyes and can accurately locate sounds up to about a mile away. The placement of their eyes enables a 270-degree field of vision compared to humans’ 180 degrees. In addition, turkeys have superior color vision and can see UV light.



Touted as healthy to consume because of their high omega 3 fat (the healthy kind) content and blood thinning effects, fish oils are a massive market and are consumed by millions of people. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 18.8 million (7.8%) U.S. adults and 664,000 (1.1%) children use fish oil supplements. The global fish oil market was at $2.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach US $2.8 Billion by 2027.

How is fish oil extracted? Oil and water are pressed from cooked fish during the manufacture of fish meal, which is basically fish tissue (all of it) which is used as feed for pets, fish in aquafarms, livestock and even humans. The oil is separated out by a centrifuge (spinner) which separates it from the water. Although fish flesh is high in protein, it’s also high in all the chemicals they absorb from the polluted oceans. 100% of fish caught in our oceans today are contaminated with various chemicals like pesticides and herbicides as well as heavy metals like lead and cadmium. These pollutants are actually concentrated in the oils so fish oil supplements are usually very contaminated as well.

An estimated 450 to 1000 billion (1 trillion) small wild vertebrate fish are slaughtered each year for fishmeal and fish oil. Anchovy, menhaden, herring, and pilchard are the chief sources of fish oil. At one point in the last decade, some maritime countries in Central America which harvested a lot of anchovies put a complete moratorium on catching them since their populations were almost depleted to zero.

Approximately 50 fish are killed for an average bottle of Fish Oil Omega-3 supplement. 

And the craziest part of this horrific and terribly unhealthy practice is that fish don’t even make omega 3 fatty acids! They get them from algae they eat. This is why farmed salmon is often devoid of any significant amounts of omega 3s. They are not fed algae, but products like soy and other grains. Even the fishmeal they are sometimes fed have all the omega 3s squeezed out of them in the oil extraction process.


Although it does contribute to blood thinning, which can be beneficial if you have cardiovascular disease and it does provide healthy omega 3 fatty acids, there are some downsides. Some studies associate fish oil supplements with increased risks for atrial fibrillation, a potentially lethal heart rhythm disorder. It also can increase LDL, the bad cholesterol and it also has been linked to increased inflammatory markers. That combination of inflammation and LDL is particularly problematic and increases atherosclerotic deposits in arteries. In addition, ALL fish from the ocean are contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides and other chemicals, not to mention microplastics.

If you still choose to take fish oil, pick a good, clean one. But why bother with fish oil when you can skip the middleman and consume clean algae based supplements? In addition, there are many healthy plant sources of omega 3s like walnuts and flax seeds.



Sadly, most medications and treatments are made with animal ingredients or are tested on animals before they are approved for general use in humans. There is a growing movement of non-animal testing, especially in the US, but many medications are produced in other countries where animal testing is still the norm.

Although in our medical model, drugs are definitely overprescribed, there is no question that medications also play a part in improving human health. Or at least in extending human longevity. From 1981 to 2013, it’s estimated that drugs saved 139 million years of life, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Progress in medicine has increased life quality and expectancy, and without it, society would look very different. In 1700’s England, the average life expectancy was only 37 years of age. And although the first significant change which increased life expectancy was hygiene and sanitation, medications, especially with the advent of antibiotics, extended it significantly. 

While it’s important to be grateful for everything scientific advancements have given us, we can also recognize that medicine is not perfect. For the most part, the treatments and medications used around the world rely on animal exploitation, whether it’s through ingredients sourced from animals or through testing on them.

There are many, many drugs that rely on animal ingredients. Often, these ingredients play the role of excipient, which is an inactive ingredient that helps with the long-term stabilization of the medicine. Excipients can also help with consistency, solubility, and absorption. The majority of excipients are derived from animals. A 2013 report of the 100 most prescribed drugs found that 74 contained one or more of lactose, gelatine, or magnesium stearate. Lactose comes from cow’s milk, gelatin is usually sourced from the skin and bones of cattle and pigs, and magnesium stearate can be derived from beef fat. Other common excipients include shellac, which is secreted by lac bugs, cochineal, which is made with crushed cochineal beetles, and lanolin, which comes from sheep’s wool.

Some animal ingredients also play an active role in medicine. Insulin, for example, can sometimes be sourced from animals, like pigs and cows. Heparin, a commonly used blood thinner used to prevent or treat blood clots, is often derived from pigs and cattle, but it can also come from many other animals, including turkeys, mice, whales, and lobsters.

That said, not all medicines contain animal products, but it can be difficult to find a definitive list of ingredients. You can check with your pharmacist, the leaflet inside the medicine box, or contact the manufacturer to try and find out information, but be aware that this may be a fruitless task. In some cases, the manufacturer is not always able to, or more importantly required to guarantee the source of excipients or confirm non-contamination during the manufacturing process.

Even if your medicine doesn’t contain animal ingredients, there is a good chance it has been tested on animals. Animals used for this purpose include mice, rats, monkeys, dogs, rabbits, cats, and more. Estimates are that more than 50 million animals are used annually in drug tests.

Most countries mandate that new drugs are tested on animals first before they are given to humans, which makes it near impossible to find cruelty-free medicine. There was progress in the US, when the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 was passed and signed into law. The act is not a ban on animal testing in scientific research, but it does mean that the FDA is allowed to consider non-animal drug tests, of which there are many.

Today, scientists can grow human and animal cells in laboratories and human volunteers can donate tissue. There are also highly sophisticated computer models that can be used. Lastly, there are mini human “organs” on computer chips which are being used for testing.

Here is a short list of the most common medication additives.

  • Gelatin. Known more for what makes Jello jiggly, gelatin is a protein that’s often found in gel capsules. It may come from animal skin or bones (usually from beef or pork).
  • Lactose. The main sugar in cow’s milk, it’s sometimes used as a binder or filler in some tablet medications.
  • Glycerin (or glycerol). This can be used as a sweetener and may come from animal fats.
  • Stearic acid. Found in some tablets and capsules, especially controlled-release medications, this sometimes originates from animal fats. But, it can also come from vegetable sources. 

In addition to additives to drugs, some drugs are outright derived from animals. The most common active ingredients in these types of medications are different hormones. For instance, after insulin’s discovery in 1921, people with diabetes were treated with insulin that came from pork and beef. Although there aren’t any more animal insulins approved for use in the U.S., they’re still used in some foreign countries. 

Below is a list of some popular medications made with animal by-products.

  • Heparin. This blood thinner is used to treat blood clots. Pigs.
  • Lovenox (enoxaparin). Also a blood thinner. Pigs.
  • Armour Thyroid, Nature thyroid. Pigs.
  • Pancrelipase (Creon, Viokace). Pigs
  • Estrogen (Premarin). Female horse urine.
  • Lovaza (Omega 3 fatty acids). Lowers triglycerides. Fish oil
  • Vascepa (Icosapent ethyl). Lowers triglycerides. Fish oil.
  • Propofol (Diprivan). A very common anesthetic. Chicken eggs.
  • Vaccines (some). Chicken eggs.

Many liquid medications contain glycerin, which may come from either animal fat or vegetable oils. Glycerin is an oily and clear liquid that adds thickness and sweetness to liquid medications. 

Unfortunately, medication labels often don’t specify whether the glycerin in the medication came from animals or vegetables. But, you or your pharmacist may be able to contact the drug company directly to find out more information about the source of the medication’s inactive ingredients.




Each year, more than 115 million animals, including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds, are killed in U.S. laboratories for biology lessons, medical training, scientific experimentation, as well as in chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing. There is a common belief that they don’t feel pain or emotions, especially fish, but this is completely wrong. They all feel physical and emotional pain the way we do.

As far as drug testing goes, each drug developed often results in the experimentation and inevitable deaths of tens of thousands of animals. They are forced to endure such things as inhaling toxic fumes, ingesting drug compounds and suffer various painful tests like topical applications leading to skin reactions and burning. Others are immobilized in restraint devices for hours. They are confined to barren cages, socially isolated, and psychologically traumatized. These thinking and feeling animals used in experiments are treated like nothing more than disposable laboratory equipment.

In addition to enduring drug testing, these animals are usually given the disease they are trying to treat. For example, if a drug is being tested to treat HIV, the animals, usually monkeys, are infected with the HIV virus. What is completely ridiculous is that monkeys are not affected by the HIV virus the way humans are so doing tests on them is much less applicable to humans. This is the case for many drugs. Animals simply are NOT small humans. Their anatomy and physiology are different and they respond both to disease and drugs differently. A classic example of this is how humans who take synthroid, a once-a day thyroid hormone replacement, can skip a day and it won’t impact on them or their hormone levels a bit. Dogs on the other hand, need to take synthroid twice a day because of how quickly their bodies metabolize it. Another example is aspirin, easily tolerated by humans but lethal in cats, even compensating for size differences.

Animals’ cells also respond to toxic stimuli differently. A classic and extremely sad example of this was how animals responded to tobacco smoke. Not a single animal model was able to reproduce the toxicity or cancer causing effects of smoke on their bodies the way tobacco affects humans. This is partly why it took so long for the government and society in general to accept that smoking was harmful. This idea was around for decades. Think of  the number of humans who died from smoking related diseases because of the false sense of security non-applicable animal testing provided.

The reality is that the majority of animal experiments do not contribute to improving human health, and the value of the role that animal experimentation plays in most medical advances is questionable. Drug failure rate in humans after successful animal testing is as high as 95% by some estimates. There is however a lot of money to be made in the drug-development industry. It costs nearly $2 Billion to develop a drug for human use. SOMEONE is making a lot of money.

Newer technologies, such as Organ-On Chip (Click here for more information), recreate actual human cells and organs without the need to torture and kill animals. Research combining artificial intelligence and heart-on-a-chip technology was recently profiled in the media. These technologies are more applicable to humans since actual human cells are used. Many more studies can be tested at a fraction of the time and cost compared with testing on animals.




Meat producers have a new animal to farm. In an effort to be more sustainable, the industry is turning to insects as an alternative source of protein. But new research on insect sensitivity and behavior raises ethical questions about this surprising trend.

Humans have fed on insects for centuries and continue to do so today. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in 2013, insects were still part of the traditional diet of at least two billion people (25% of Earth’s population) around the world, mostly in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Most of the small six-legged land animals consumed for food today are collected from the wild. However, in some countries, insect farms have existed for several decades. 

Such is the case in Thailand, where there are an estimated 20,000 cricket farms and about 5,000 for palm weevil larvae. In China, there are even some industrial-scale cockroach farms intended mainly for the production of medicines and animal feed. Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Kenya also have insect farms, mostly for crickets. Most of these farms are small-scale and not technologically developed. 

In the Global North, the insect-based food industry is an emerging sector that is growing rapidly. Until recently, in addition to cultural rejection by potential consumers, one of the main barriers to the growth of the industry was in the legal field, since most Western countries did not have regulations that allowed the marketing of edible insects. Feeding animal remains to other animals was banned by the EU in 1994 because of the outbreak of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), a devastating, rapidly progressive and untreatable neurodegenerative condition which is transmitted to humans. However, the EU authorized the use of insects as animal feed in 2021. The United States approved the use of black soldier flies in dog food. Also, Canada allows the marketing of food products based on insects of some species for both animal and human consumption. 

Canada currently has the largest cricket farm for human consumption in North America. Between 8-10 million individuals are harvested each week, in addition to several insect farms whose production is for feed for fish, poultry, and pets. One of the world’s largest insect farms was opened in the Netherlands in 2019, and France is also among the leading producers of insects. Meanwhile, the U.S. is projected to produce about 60,000 metric tons of animal feed and 20,000 metric tons of oils for poultry and swine rations per year at the world’s largest insect farm to be constructed in Illinois by 2024.

The global edible insect market is projected to grow from $406 million in 2018 to $1.2 billion by 2023. The projections are so high that even some food industry giants, such as Wilbur Ellis, Cargill Inc., and McDonald’s have thrown their hats in the ring.

The insect farming propaganda

In recent years, the insect-based food industry, supported by the FAO, has successfully championed insects as a sustainable source of protein. Insects require much less water and land and emit much fewer greenhouse gasses than conventionally farmed animals to produce the same amount of protein. In addition, the industry says it could contribute to reducing food and agricultural waste worldwide. The list of claimed “advantages” is so long that several prestigious Western media outlets such as the Guardian, Financial Times, National Geographic, BBC, The Times, New Scientist, The New York Times, Netflix & WWF, Wired, and Forbes, among others, celebrate the initiative.

But for insect farming to deliver on these promises, the industry has to grow to such a degree that environmental and health problems are inevitable. In an article published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, a group of scientists state that “a lack of basic research on almost all aspects of production means the future environmental impact of the mass rearing of insects is largely unknown.” In their opinion, “it is not enough to compare the insect feed-conversion ratios (FCRs) with those of other farmed animals to determine their sustainability. While it is true that insects may offer significantly better FCRs and a smaller land-use footprint compared to traditional livestock systems, this does not guarantee that the insects-as-food industry will be environmentally friendly”.

There are many concerns about the largely unknown impacts of the mass rearing of insects. 

  • How do you produce the feed they eat? 
  • Where do you produce it?
  • What do you use?
  • Are we going to use fossil fuels for heating and cooling the facilities (where insects are grown)? 
  • What about transportation?

Considering that currently around a third of insect producers use commercial feed which includes soy, Bergreen’s questions do not seem so out of place. 

There are many other questions about the possible negative effects of the industry on biodiversity. For any industry to make enough profit to stay afloat, it needs to reduce production costs as much as possible and, in turn, generate more merchandise. In the case of insect farming, this means they need insects that grow more and in less time. The industry is already creating genetically modified versions of the insects that currently being bred the most. These include mealworms, crickets, and grasshoppers for human food, and black soldier flies, houseflies, and others for animal feed. What happens if insects are accidentally released in a country to which they are imported? Insects are tiny and they get out. 

Alarmingly, there is also not much information on the zoonotic (animal originated) diseases that the mass production of new insect species could cause.

What about insects themselves?

Even if insect farming turns out to be more sustainable than raising cows, chickens, and pigs for food, proponents rarely mention the ethical concerns that the industry raises. The research surrounding the sentience, emotions, behavior, intelligence, and other relevant aspects of insects’ lives is quite recent, so the scientific community has yet to come to a consensus in terms of just how much pain and suffering insect farming would cause. However, more and more studies support the idea that many species of insects experience a variety of different emotions. Insect brains are indeed capable of phenomenal consciousness and have the capacity to be aware of sensations and emotions. A recent BBC article mentions that “there’s mounting evidence that insects can experience a remarkable range of feelings” and that they can be “optimistic, cynical, or frightened, and respond to pain just like any mammal would.” According to Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D. in Ethology and author of the book Super Fly, flies exhibit discerning social lives, idiosyncratic behavior, and sensitivities to stimuli that could be very similar to our own. For example, fruit flies are able to learn from what their peers are doing, they even suffer from insomnia and react to human-effective analgesics for chronic pain in a similar way we do.

If industry predictions prove accurate, these farms might soon kill upwards of 50 trillion insects a year. That is more insects killed for food in a single year than the number of mammals killed by humans for food in the entire history of civilization. In addition, the conditions to which insects are subjected can lead to premature death, as well as cannibalism, which is common among other farmed animals when they are under a lot of stress. 

Ethical concerns around the rapid growth of insect farming are growing, in part because producers plan to sell most of the insects as animal feed. The market for animal feed, both pet and for animals raised for human consumption, is the more immediate business and growth opportunity for the insect industry and is the one they are focusing on. This means that despite the industry’s promise to be more sustainable than traditional animal farming, it will be virtually impossible for it to be more ethical.




Although these issues may seem unrelated, they certainly are not. I mentioned at the top of this page that how humans treat each other says a lot about us. The world of industrial agriculture and animal production reveals a lot about how we treat both other humans and the animals. The vast majority of the crops we grow go to feed the animals we raise in horrible conditions to manufacture and provide the unhealthy foods most people eat. Furthermore, these unhealthy processed foods are marketed towards lower-income and in most cases minority populations. To make the foods cheap, many corners are cut and unsafe and unhealthy practices are used. Cheap labor is one of the major ways that the food industry keeps things cheap. The same goes for the leather industry which is horrific track record when it comes to looking out for the health of its workers. 8 of the top 10 lowest paying jobs are in the food industry with the top ones being on the production side.

Jobs on factory farms, which employ more than 500,000 workers in the US alone, are the most dangerous of all types of employment and have one of the highest turnover rates in America, exceeding 95 to 100% annually. These workers come from low-income families with approximately 72% of them being born outside the United States, 68% born in Mexico alone. 38% of farm workers do not speak any English and 48% do not have legal authorization to work in the United States with only 33% being U.S. citizens. For employees without legal authorization, the job is something they can easily obtain in order to provide for themselves and their families. However these dangerous jobs do not come without consequences. 

Workers on agricultural farms and in the animal/meat industry have some of the highest rates of injuries, infections, depression and PTSD, various chronic disease and cancer. More than a third of factory farm workers are infected with MRSA, the “flesh-eating” bacteria because of all the antibiotic exposure. Leather and textile/clothing workers are also subject to significant physical and mental abuse.

Slaughterhouse workers are “at-will” employees, meaning they can be fired at any time. As a result, very few workplace hazards are reported to supervisors for fear they will lose their jobs or be replaced by somebody else willing to do the grueling and dangerous work. Factory farms depend on these types of employees because they are thankful for the work and, as a result, unlikely to unionize and will endure horrible working conditions, long hours and accept very little pay. 

The longer the employees work at factory farms, the more likely they are to be injured. After 5 years, workers have a 50% probability of being injured on the job. Injuries range from contracting diseases from handling the animal carcasses to severe injuries from using the line equipment. During an average workday, employees inhale toxic fumes like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide along with a number of airborne bacteria and viruses. The air quality is so bad in these farms that 70% of farm workers experience some sort of respiratory issue. There are also long-term injuries to the employees’ hands, arms, shoulders and backs due to the physical and repetitive nature of the work.

The poultry industry has abused and taken advantage of minority communities subjecting them to starvation wages, labor law violations and unsafe work conditions. A 2016 OXFAM report revealed that at the 4 largest poultry companies, workers are routinely denied bathroom breaks, forcing workers to soil themselves on the job or wear diapers in order to avoid retribution by supervisors. Government fines are so low and assembly line speeds are so fast that permanent crippling injuries are commonplace, but under-reported. The daily exposure to carnage and death also results in an extremely high rate of depression and PTSD.

The worst of it all is the number of people killed by this kind of work. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 20.2 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2012. That’s about 100 people a year. The CDC also reports that every day, about 167 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury. 5% of these injuries result in permanent impairment.

Most companies do not provide their workers healthcare coverage and many of these workers cannot find proper transportation or time off to even get to a doctor. Most workers are afraid of reporting these conditions because they want to keep their jobs and steady income. That income, at roughly $23,000 a year, barely keeps these employees at or above the poverty line.

Labor laws are also not taken too seriously in the factory farming industry. While no employees under 18 years old are “officially” hired, investigations have shown workers as young as 15-years-old employed by these farms.

Factory Farming and the Community

Factory farming doesn’t just hurt the people who work in the industry. It has much larger implications for the people who live near these facilities as well as our global environment.

More than 37% of methane emissions come directly from factory farms. Methane has a global warming potential 20x higher than carbon. The majority of our methane comes from cows and the waste they produce. Another common source of methane is actually rotting, wasted food crops like sugar cane.

On average, animals in the agriculture industry produce 130x more excrement than the entire human population combined. Eventually, all the waste that comes from factory farms has to go somewhere. And that somewhere can be straight onto and into us. This waste is stored in massive open-air cesspools and because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t regulate the air and water pollution created by factory farms, they are allowed to spray this waste on surrounding lands that are usually near people’s homes. The toxins and harmful gases released from this waste causes people to suffer from respiratory infections, headaches and can even cause blue-baby syndrome if it enters waterways. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria from livestock waste can be spread through the air.

There are many airborne diseases that come from factory farming, such as swine and avian flu.

Despite the pleadings local communities to get factory farms to stop polluting their air and water, nothing has been done to regulate their actions. Factory farms are usually located in low-income areas where residents can’t afford to move meaning they have no choice but to suffer the negative health impacts. All the runoff from the manure ponds these animal and dairy farms create directly pollute local water supplies, not to mention the air local communities breathe. The rates of various chronic diseases is significantly higher in these areas. Disease rates of workers in slaughterhouses is much higher than any other industry. Coming close are such industries as leather and clothing industries.

Meat, dairy and factory farming industries have devastated low-income and minority communities. Skin lesions, respiratory symptoms, higher infant mortality rates, increased cancer and other chronic disease rates are all present in these communities.

The toxic food products which result from industrial farming, are then marketed and sold to people in low-income and immigrant communities. They bear the brunt of the horrible health effects of these foods. It’s basically institutionalized racism. Poor people and people of color are being exploited to grow, raise and produce unhealthy food for other poor people and people of color .

The Leather/Clothing Industry. The process of tanning (preventing animal skins from decaying) involves vast amounts of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Chromium and cyanide runoff from these tanneries is considered the #1 threat to water pollution and ocean dead zones worldwide. Tannery workers are subjected to numerous workplace hazards. They have significantly increased rates of cancers such as lung, testicular, soft tissue sarcoma, bladder and blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. The CDC found that the incidence of leukemia in a county in Kentucky near a tannery was 5x the national average. In India, the leather industry is significantly worse. Deadly accidents are commonplace. Workers cleaning underground waste suffocate from the fumes. Workers getting caught and drowning in toxic sludge. Fevers, eye inflammation, rashes, cancers of numerous types.

Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t just help your health, the environment and obviously the animals, it also helps protect human rights and your fellow-man.

MooShoes is one of a number of innovative companies making good-quality cruelty-free, vegan clothing.




Wool is the leading global source of animal fiber used, not only in the clothing industry, but various other products like upholstery, blankets, carpeting and carpet pads, windings for baseballs, felts for piano hammers, and fabric for billiard and gaming tables are just to name a few. Although well-marketed as a natural, sustainable material, produced from well cared for sheep, wool production is anything but those things. The wool industry is a slaughter industry working hand in hand with the meat industry. It is one of the most destructive industries around.  Wool is a scaled product, a result of our modern industrial, chemical, ecological and genetic interventions. It’s a significant contributor to the climate crisis, land degradation, water use, pollution and biodiversity loss. The animals are not raised on beautiful pastures. 

In 2019, wool accounted for just over 1% of all fibers produced worldwide, natural or synthetic. 1.5 million pounds (2500 tons) were produced from 1.7 billion sheep. The top producers of wool are Australia (25%), China (18%), US (17%) and NZ (11%). A smattering of other countries produce 2-3% each. Globally, the wool market generates $4.5 billion and China imports over 50% of the world supply of wool.  The 5 major apparel types which drive the wool market are women’s overcoats (27%), men’s trousers, suits, overcoats and jackets, all ~15%.

From an ethical standpoint, these sheep are not happily grazing and occasionally have their wool shorn. They are mistreated and subject to many violent and ethically unacceptable practices. Their baby lambs are killed for meat early, always getting sheared for their wool just before. We can’t let anything go to waste!!! Adult herds often graze in the heat, worsened by their thick wool coats for which they are selectively bred. They have a patch of skin cut away without anesthesia to help prevent parasite infections which they often get because of the thick wool, sweat and heat. It’s a violent and sad industry.

For much more detail on the destructive aspects of the wool industry and its impact on our health, their health as well as planetary health, look up the following article Shear Destruction.




There is actually a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture which is dedicated to killing wild animals to protect domesticated animals raised for food. Oxymoronically known as Wildlife Services, this department spends millions of taxpayers dollars to kill wildlife by setting lethal leg traps and neck snares, spreading poison and hiring hunters who fly around in helicopters. They also train dogs to track down and rip apart other animals. Raccoons, beavers, great horned owls, eagles, coyotes, bears, foxes and many other creatures. In 2016 alone, they report having killed over 1.5 million animals. We kill animals so that other domesticated animals can be killed later for profit.




Given the amount of animal products consumed by humans, you would think that skipping meat, fish, dairy and eggs one day a week would not have much impact on the environment and the animals but, just like individuals recycling every day, it actually has a huge impact over time. For example, if every American skipped only one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the CO2 savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. Below are some other eye-opening statistics.

Over the course of a year, if you did not eat animal products 1 day a week, the following would occur:

  • One less burger a week would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.
  • Eating meat-free with your family once a week would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 5 weeks, or reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes from the water savings.
  • Skipping steak once a week with your family would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for nearly 3 months.
  • If the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles, or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.

As a country eating vegetarian for one day, we would save:

  • 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months.
  • 5 billion pounds of crops that would otherwise be fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year.
  • 70 million gallons of gas, enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico with plenty to spare.
  • 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware.
  • 33 tons of antibiotics.
  • 3 million tons of soil erosion.
  • 5 million tons of animal excrement, which would eliminate almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

Going animal-product free even one meal a day has significant ramifications as well. One person, changing to only one vegan meal a day would lead to a yearly water savings of over 200,000 gallons and would also save the amount of carbon it would take to drive from LA to NYC. For more information about One Meal a Day and the significant impact it can have, click here.

Another method of assessing the effects of a vegan diet is to use a vegan calculator. After one month, an individual who switched from a meat-based to a plant based diet would:

  • save 33 animals from death.
  • save 33,000 gallons of water otherwise used for animal food production.
  • would avoid the destruction of 900 square feet of forest.
  • would skip the creation of 600 pounds of CO2 gas.
  • would allow 1,200 pounds of grain used to feed animals for their consumption to be diverted to feed starving communities worldwide.




Eating animals is a choice, not a necessity. In meat-eating cultures around the world, people don’t think about why they eat certain animals but not others, or why they eat animals at all. To be healthy, eating meat is simply not necessary, therefore, it is a choice and choices are made based on beliefs. These beliefs are called carnism. This is the cultural ideology that conditions people to only eat certain animals and not others. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism, as “carn” means “flesh” and “ism” refers to a belief system. Because carnism is so ingrained in cultural upbringing it’s essentially invisible. It’s cultural, habitual, cruel and hypocritical. As mentioned above, dogs are tortured and eaten in the Orient. Horse meat is a delicacy in France and even Canada. Dolphins are culled and slaughtered in Japan. It goes on and on. In The US, we prosecute and imprison people who abuse dogs and cats yet it is perfectly legal to take a piglet on a farm by the legs and kill it by smashing its head into the concrete. It’s common “agricultural practice” so it’s legal.

Carnism is a dominant belief system. It is so widespread that its principles and practices are considered common sense or “the way things are”. Carnistic bias is built into the very foundations of society.

Carnism is also a violent belief system: it is organized around intensive, extensive, and unnecessary violence toward animals. Even the production of so-called humane meat, eggs, and dairy, a tiny percentage of the animal foods produced in the world today, exploits animals and involves brutality.

In short, carnism is a system of oppression. It is enabled by an unjust exercise of power that causes unnecessary harm to billions. As long as people are unaware of how carnism impacts them, they will be unable to make our food choices freely. Without awareness and understanding, there is no free choice.

This is a link for a more detailed description of Carnism.




Although in some rare cases, hunting and fishing is done as a means of survival, the fact is that the vast majority of animals hunted around the world are injured or killed not out of necessity, but out of pleasure. The notion that these pursuits are environmentally friendly is a myth. It is something hunters and fishermen tell themselves to avoid thinking about the pain and suffering they are actually causing. The notion that animals, in particular fish, do not feel the same pain and emotions we do is completely ridiculous, has definitively been proven to be incorrect and again, is a rationalization we tell ourselves to make these pursuits more acceptable.

The Myth of Deer Hunting Necessary for Population Control.

One of the most cited justifications for deer hunting is that it’s necessary for managing out-of-control deer populations. Not only is that not a valid justification, deer hunting itself is actually responsible for overpopulation issues to begin with. We created the problem and are justifying our behavior and actions as a means to correct it, rather than change the actions and behaviors which caused the issue in the first place.

The overpopulation of deer in suburban areas is a real concern and can become a particularly dangerous situation when it comes to car accidents, not to mention that it also adds to the spread of lyme disease. The most commonly proposed solution to this problem is hunting deer to thin out the population. But is hunting really an effective method of controlling deer populations and if we didn’t hunt them, would we be completely overrun by deer? Simply put, NO and NO.

First off, something important to note is that when speaking about out-of-control deer populations, state wildlife management agencies will rarely use the term “overpopulated,” opting instead for softened terminology like “overabundant.” Overpopulation means a population has exceeded its biological carrying capacity, which, by definition, is the maximum number of individuals of a species that can exist in a habitat indefinitely without threatening other species in that habitat (much like humans have all over our planet). This is determined by limiting factors such as available food, water, shelter, and prey to predator ratios. When a species exceeds its biological carrying capacity, it is officially overpopulated.  In contrast, “overabundant,” the term hunting advocates use for deer populations, means nothing.  It’s not a scientific term and it has no fixed definition.  It’s simply a way to make it sound like we have too many deer around and to justify killing them.

In reality, if deer did overpopulate a given area, nature would step in to regulate it. Nature does an amazing good job of keeping proper balance, until humans get involved. The problem of overpopulation arises only when humans interfere with nature.  This is the most perverse element of the “we need hunters to control the deer population” argument. Deer populations become excessive because of hunting. The proposed solution is the source of the problem.

There are two main ways hunting increases deer population. The first is orchestrated by state wildlife management agencies and the second is a direct effect of hunting practices themselves.

Wildlife agencies, like the State Department of Natural Resources here in the US, get most of their income from selling hunting licenses. Below is a chart showing the income sources for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

As you can see, almost 60% of their income is from selling licenses. Second is through federal grants influenced by the opposing ideas of “Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation”, which is what Heritage Enhancement targets. Basically, they make almost 95% of their income from the killing of animals. The more animals that are allowed to be killed, the more money they make.

Many of their mission statements explicitly state their responsibility is to provide hunting opportunities.  One of the ways they can increase these opportunities, and thus increase hunting license revenue, is by clear-cutting forested areas to create habitat ideal for deer. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, for example, recommends clearing multiple areas, each 1-3 acres in size, a practice, which not only significantly boosts deer populations, but is also very environmentally damaging. A Department of Natural Resources State Forester in Michigan stated that “We manipulate forest habitat to produce amazingly unnatural deer numbers. Up to 2 million of the critters some years. That probably approaches 2 million more than existed before man got into the act.”

Not only are they not protecting natural resources, they are going out of their way to destroy them.

To these agencies, deer are seen as a resource and not as animals deserving protection. Definitely not as sentient beings. Deer are financial resources to be exploited for the sole purpose of being killed for sport at a profit. Even the terminology used equates these sentient creatures with plants and views them as pure statistics. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources states in their annual report: “We rank first in the country for the highest single year deer harvest on record and are number one for deer harvest over the past decade.  All of us work hard to keep it that way.”

Wildlife “management” is an illusory concept created in the early 1900’s.  There is no such thing as wildlife management.  Humans cannot manage nature, we only manipulate and distort it. Nature manages itself perfectly fine, as long as we stay out of the way. A perfect example of this is shown in the video “How Wolves Changed Rivers”. In this video, which you can find on YouTube, you see how there is a balance in nature. When wolves, decimated by hunting and poaching (mostly for the misguided purposes of protecting cattle) were reintroduced into the wild, the whole dynamic of the landscape changed and a natural order was restored. The impact of just that one natural change, or more accurately correction of what we did, is astounding.

The second source of artificially overabundant deer populations is a result of the practices of hunters themselves. Conventional deer hunting is all about killing mature male deer, or bucks, with large antlers, leaving the female deers alone.  A single buck can breed with multiple females, so while hunting reduces the number of male deer it does not reduce the number of offspring.  This sex-biased hunting skews the natural 1:1 ratio of male and female deer to as high as 1:8. In nature, 67% of mature females have twins.

As a result, in a natural 1:1 ratio, on average, 1.4 fawns are born to every impregnated female. In an unnatural 1:8 ratio, the average is almost 2x higher.  

Simply put, hunting creates more deer.

Although the majority of hunters and fishermen are interested in preserving the environment and being outdoors, they are not aware of the ramifications they are having. Education is key. But education is useless if it is not acted upon.


The overfishing, both industrial, commercial and private has its obvious effects. Killing animals unnecessarily including all the bycatch, incidental animal death resulting from horrific practices like trawling.  That’s about as obvious a problem as it gets. Trillions of aquatic animals are killed annually. We’ve decimated more than 90% of the sea life on this planet.

Although stocking fish in streams and lakes for fishermen may seem like a harmless practice, it is actually quite destructive. 

Beginning in early spring most state Fish and Game departments dump young trout, and other fish (known as fingerlings) into lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams for the express purposes of allowing humans to catch and torture them. The planted, hatchery-raised fish upset the native ecosystem. According to those departments, by providing the fish, “recreational opportunities” are increased. However, the fact is that fish populations would do fine without the stocking. 

The problem with indiscriminate fish stocking is that it contributes to the decline of many native trout and frog species. Fish stocking creates three main problems for the natural environment: 

  • Each and every time a fish is introduced, there is risk of spreading disease, exotic organisms, or unwanted fish developing in an environment they were not supposed to be in in the first place.
  • Stocked fish prey on and compete with native species for food and habitat, and
  • The planted fish are altering the natural ecosystem to the detriment of the native species. In fact, scientists have concluded that stocking non-native trout is the single biggest factor in the decline of native fish species in the Sierra Nevada. 

Studies in the Trinity Alps, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California, and elsewhere show that up to 80% of the lakes being planted today could maintain themselves through natural reproduction. 

In most places, the native fish and amphibian species need help. Many species are already listed under the Endangered Species Act, and nearly all are threatened by fish stocking. The same holds true for many amphibian species, most notably the mountain yellow-legged frog and Cascades frog.

If you want to go for a walk in the woods or splash around in a lake or stream, go ahead. Just don’t pretend you are environmentally friendly by hunting or fishing. You are harming the animals, the environment and yourselves in the process.




The illegal poaching, trafficking and trading of wildlife, plants and animals is a global crisis, with many species being pushed towards extinction in the wild. An iconic example of this is the senseless killing of elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns. Just to give you an idea of what is involved financially, rhinoceros horns are valued at $25-30 a pound or about $35,000 per horn. They are mostly in demand in the Orient where they are used in traditional medicinal ways but more and more, they are becoming a status symbol for the growing “Nouveau Rich”. Rhino numbers have been decimated. They numbered around 1 million in 2000. Now, there are fewer than 5000 rhinos left in the wild. Some of these animals are killed by local poor populations trying to survive but the vast majority are killed through organized crime operations.

For more information about poaching and efforts to stamp it out, please visit the United for Wildlife website. Another great site is the African Wildlife Foundation.

Here are some facts about the fur trade:

  • Almost 75,000,000 animals are killed annually for their fur.
  • 85% of the fur industry’s skins come from animals who were held captive on fur factory farms. They live crammed into severely crowded, filthy cages. Many are later beaten or electrocuted. Sometimes, they are even skinned alive.
  • Although most animals killed for their fur come from fur farms, millions of raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, beavers, and other fur-bearing animals are killed every year by trappers. The steel-jaw trap, which the is the most widely used trap. It’s been banned by the European Union and a growing number of U.S. states.
  • One billion rabbits are killed each year so that their fur can be used in clothing or for lures in fly fishing or trim on craft items like good luck charms like rabbits feet! Remember those!
  • Electrocuting fur-bearing animals anally and genitally is an agonizing slaughter method used frequently in order to limit damage to the fur. New York is the first state to have banned this inhumane practice.
  • There are no penalties for people who abuse animals on fur farms in China, the world’s largest fur exporter.
  • In China, there’s a thriving cat and dog fur industry. They are bludgeoned, hanged, and even skinned alive for their fur. which is often mislabeled and exported to unsuspecting consumers around the world.
  • There are no federal laws to protect animals on fur farms in the U.S.
  • Fur farms harm the environment. Millions of pounds of feces are produced annually by U.S. mink farms alone. One dangerous component of this waste is nearly 1,000 tons of phosphorus, which pollutes nearby rivers and streams. After an animal has been slaughtered, the skins are treated with toxic chemicals to keep them from rotting and decomposing in the buyer’s closet. The hazardous process of fur dressing is so problematic that the fur industry is now ranked as one of the world’s five worst industries for toxic-metal pollution.

For more information check out this site: The ugly truth about the fur industry.




Most cosmetics are tested on live animals who are then euthanized. As crazy as it sounds, it is much more expensive and less efficient to test on animals but companies refuse top stop doing it for reasons that are unclear. Most are simply stubborn and not willing to be dictated to. Some companies argue that some countries like China require animal testing but this is simply untrue. Hair care company Paul Mitchell has been cruelty-free throughout its entire existence and has no problem selling in China. Other well-known companies like Lush are also cruelty free. California presently has a bill in their legislature that would ban the sale or import of any cosmetics or personal hygiene products that were tested on animals. Here is a list of cruelty-free products: www.list-of-cruelty-free-brands. For more information on animal testing click here:

In addition to the cruelty caused by animal testing, many often discarded animal parts are used in making cosmetics. For example, animal fat is rendered into tallow, a form of more stable fat mostly made up of triglycerides. Tallow is a key ingredient in lipstick and eye mascara. Keratin, from horn, hooves, feathers and hair is also used in hair care products, lotions, body washes and other cosmetic products. In addition, there are many environmental contaminants and chemicals in cosmetics. Many lipsticks have been shown to be contaminated with lead and skin care products include cancer causing chemicals used in sunscreens.




A “blood sport” is a category of sport or entertainment that involves bloodshed, either between humans, animals or both. Common examples using animals include combat “sports” such as cockfighting and dog-fighting, bull-fighting and even some forms of hunting and fishing. Activities characterized as blood sports, but involving only human participants, include the Ancient Roman gladiatorial games but modern versions of this still exists and includes boxing, mixed martial arts and wrestling. It’s one thing for willing humans to fight each other but it’s another to force unwilling innocent animals to do so.

Animal fighting has existed across the globe in many forms for centuries. Unfortunately, this callous and brutal form of entertainment still exists the United States. Today, animal fighting in the US centers around dogs, roosters, and pigs. Most forms of animal fighting are linked to illegal gambling and organized crime.

Dog Fighting Facts

  • Dog fighting, including even attending an event, is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Dog fighting generally occurs in one of two forms: pit fighting and street fighting.
  • Organized dog fighting or “pit fighting” places two dogs in an area from which they cannot escape. The fight ends when one dog is dead or can no longer continue the fight. Organized dog fighting operations use electric shock, treadmills, and other equipment to train dogs to fight.
  • Street fighting is a more informal form of fighting. It may occur in an empty parking lot or alleyway.
  • Today in the United States, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the most commonly exploited breed in dog fighting operations. Dogs exploited in fighting operations may have over-developed muscle mass, as a result of being tied to a treadmill, and closely cropped ears to prevent ears from being ripped off in a fight. These dogs may also display heavy scarring.
  • Dog fighting occurs in every state in the US in both rural and urban settings.

Cockfighting Facts

  • Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, and is a felony in most states.
  • Cockfighting is a forced fight between two roosters who are bred and conditioned to fight. Sharp blades are tied to the roosters’ legs and the two birds slash and peck each other until one is dead or unable to continue.
  • Roosters in cockfighting suffer gouged eyes, punctured lungs, torn flesh, and slow, painful deaths.
  • Cockfights occur throughout the United States and in many other countries.

Hog-Dog Fighting Facts

  • Hog-dog fighting is also known as “hog-dog rodeo” or “hog-dogging.”
  • It is illegal in some states, but enforcement of the state laws are lacking in many areas.
  • In a hog-dog fight, one or more dogs is goaded to fight a wild boar or pig. Often the tusks are cut from the hog to offer the dog the advantage.
  • Dogs, often Pit Bull Terriers and Catahoulas, are released to tear the ears and snout of the trapped pig, who has no chance of escape.
  • In some cases, a single pig may be subjected to several fights before at last being allowed to die.
  • Dogs bred for hog-dog fights may also suffer deplorable living conditions and serious injury.
  • The owner of the fastest attacking dog is rewarded with cash and prizes. Like other forms of animal fighting, betting occurs at hog-dog fights.
  • Hog-dog fighting mainly occurs in the southern United States.


Some other forms of animal cruelty in sport include:

  • Zoos and Aquariums. These facilities are part of our chldhood and we often think of them as places where animals, even endagered ones, are cared for. And there may be more ethical facilities, the majorty are just sad displays of animals created for profit. Although they are not formal sporting facilities, the animals are often forced to perform. These facilities are double-edged swords. On the one hand, they provide an environment where the public can learn about and marvel at the wonder of animals, how they live and interact and how precious they are. Properly run facilities teach the public about the animals and our environment, highlighting the importance of preserving all life. Many have programs where they preserve species on the verge of becoming extinct. On the other hand, they keep these animals against their will, in some cases in pretty appalling conditions.
  • Animal Racing. One could argue that racing is not cruel and the animals are kept in relative comfort. However, greyhounds and race horses who outlive their utility are usually destined for some very sad end. They are either killed, sold to a slaughter houses or donated for animal experiments. Although thought of as appalling in the US, horse meat is eaten in many countries, including Canada and France. With even minor injuries, these animals are often put down since the cost of care is greater than their earning potential. They are forced to breed, often in completely unnatural ways. There are various other forms of animal racing that are put on for human entertainment like pig, rabbit, frog, mouse, hamster, cow and even cockroach racing.
  • Bullfighting. This blood sport has probably been the subject of more protests from animal rights groups than any other. Thankfully, the protests have had their effect and even in some parts of Spain, it’s being made illegal and occurring with less frequency.
  • Circus Shows create unnatural, captive environments for animals. They are made to perform strange and unnatural acts. Whips, rods, hooks and even electric prods are used in the process of training and performing.
  • Hare Coursing. Thankfully this ‘sport’ is almost completely outlawed. It involves dogs chasing and eventually killing rabbits. If you enjoy watching animals chasing one another, watch the Discovery Channel!
  • Fox Hunting. In England, this consists of chasing down and actually killing the innocent fox. Elsewhere, it merely drives the terrified animal underground to its hole. The ‘pleasure’ is apparently in the chase.
  • Bear Shows. Bears in captivity were trained to fight, dance, ride bicycles and put on other types of entertainment for people. Then there is Bear Baiting or Bear Baying (trained dogs are released on a chained bear) another ingenious form of animal torture.
  • Rodeo Riding. This is still prevalent though several regulations in the interests of preventing animal cruelty are now in place. 
  • Orangutan Boxing. This bizarre form of entertainment is prevalent in Thailand. These naturally very gentle apes are put in a boxing ring with gloves on and are forced to fight.


Some historical examples of abusive animal blood sports are listed below.

  • Goose-Pulling was among the more awful animal blood sports that was popular in the Netherlands, Belgium, England, and North America between the 17th and 19th centuries. It originated in 12th century Spain. The sport involved securing a live goose onto a pole stretched above a road. The goose’s head was greased and the objective of the game was to grab its head and pull it off its body while galloping on horseback. The participant who succeeded in pulling of the goose’s head became known as the “noble hero of the day.”
  • Monkey Baiting. Popular in 18th and 19th century England, this blood-sport involved a dog fighting a monkey. To the surprise of many spectators, the monkeys often won such fights due to their dexterity and unique fighting style. One such champion monkey was named Jacco Macacco. He fought in monkey-baiting matches in London in the early 1820’s and defeated 14 dogs before he had his jaw torn off by a fierce dog named Puss and died not long after the match.
  • Bear-Baiting was particularly popular in 16th and 17th century England. The sport involved chaining a bear to a stake either by its leg or by its neck. Dogs were then unleashed into the pit to torment the wild animal. Henry VIII was particularly fond of this cruel sport, as was Queen Elizabeth I, who went so far as to overrule Parliament’s decision to ban bear-baiting on Sundays. This is still reported to occur in some places.
  • Bear-Whipping. Whipping a blind bear was another popular pastime enjoyed in 16th and 17th century England. This involved a small group of men whipping a blind bear mercilessly. The violent spectacle often took place in arenas called Bear Gardens or Bear Pits.
  • Octopus-Wrestling. This bizarre sport was popular in the early 20th century, especially on the West Coast of the United States. As the name suggests, the sport involved the participants wrestling with an octopus and then dragging it up to the surface. The team or the individual that wrestled the biggest octopus won. The sport was taken so seriously that in the 1960’s, a World Octopus Wrestling Championship was held yearly in Puget Sound, Washington.
  • Cock-Throwing was popular in 17th and 18th century England, cock-throwing involved tying a cock to a post and then throwing specially weighted sticks at it until the helpless bird died. In 17th century, cock-throwing was banned in Bristol by Puritan officials which resulted in violent riots. Cock-throwing began to lose its popularity when the public grew increasingly concerned with animal welfare.
  • Badger-Baiting was popular from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. It usually took place in the back gardens of taverns, where owners encouraged these bloody spectacles because they increased beer sales. In some cases, the tail of the badger was nailed to the ground. The badger was then baited either until it died from the injuries caused by the dogs or from tail gangrene. The dogs were also often injured so badly that they had to be euthanized as well.
  • Drawing The Badger. A variation on badger-baiting, drawing the badger became a popular sport in the early 20th century. The sport involved placing a badger inside a box that looked like its den. A dog was then pushed into the box and was almost immediately seized by the badger. Drawing the badger was basically a way to test dogs. Inexperienced dogs were often brutally mauled by the badgers and in some cases even killed.
  • Fox-Tossing. The rules of fox-tossing, one of the animal blood sports popular among 17th and 18th century European aristocracy, were simple: teams of two stood in a small courtyard holding each end of a sling sheet. As foxes were released into the courtyard, each team focused hard on tossing the fox into the air with their sling. The team that tossed the fox the highest, as high as 25 feet, would win. The fox usually died from the fall.
  • Lion-Baiting was first recorded at the court of King James I of England in 1610. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the public grew outraged enough that the abuse was quickly raised in the Parliament of United Kingdom and the sport was soon banned.
  • Pato, also known as Juego del Pato, is an Argentinian game that is played on horseback. The game combines elements of polo and basketball and is still popular to this day. However, some forget that the early version of the sport was played with a duck instead of a ball, hence the name of the game: “Pato” (duck).
  • Rat-Baiting was popular in 19th century Britain. Spectators of this blood sport would bet on how long it would take a dog to kill all the rats in an enclosed area.
  • Donkey-Baiting was a common sight in Victorian England. However, it never really took off like some other animal blood sports due to the mild nature of donkeys, who, in most cases, refused to fight the dogs.
  • Duck-Baiting, popular in early 19th century England, involved constraining the wings of ducks and then releasing them into a pond. With their wings immobilized, the ducks were able to float atop the water but were unable to fly away. Dogs were then released into the pond and a water battle between the dog and the duck ensued. It is said that Charles II was particularly fond of duck-baiting. The sport declined in the late 19th century due to public alarm over the rowdy crowds.

What You Can Do To Combat Animal Fighting

  • If you suspect animal fighting, contact local law enforcement as soon as possible.
  • Support legislation in your state that places stricter penalties on animal fighting.
  • Do not attend entertainment events that combine animals with gambling activity. This includes horse and dog racing events.





The World Health Organization recently stated that what threatens human existence the most is not climate change, overpopulation or even food scarcity, it’s a pandemic from a drug resistant organism. These infections are man-made in that they come primarily from the animal agricultural industry because of the horrible, overcrowded conditions and the overuse of antibiotics. 80% of the antibiotics used worldwide is in the livestock industry, not to treat but to prevent infections. They also act as a growth stimulant. Because of these conditions, antibiotic resistant super-bugs flourish. We already have numerous microbes which are resistant to all known antibiotics and these infections have a 90% human death rate. Farm workers are colonized (already infected) with MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus – the “flesh-eating bacteria”) at a rate of 30%. Massive numbers of animals are killed each year in order to control such out breaks. Here are some examples:

  • In 2001 in the UK there was an outbreak of Hand/Foot/Mouth disease, a viral infection which primarily affects animals and which rarely gets transmitted to humans. It is not dangerous to us. Rather than inoculate the animals (which costs money) and because of fear of the impact of global market sales, 6-10 million potentially affected cows, pigs and sheep were slaughtered, put in huge pits and burned. The vast majority of these animals were perfectly healthy.
  • In 2009, the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus broke out on a pig farm and quickly jumped to humans killing over 500,000 in the first year.
  • In 2003, there was an outbreak of Avian Influenza which resulted in 1 human death worldwide but 30 million birds were killed as a preventive measure. This infection is 100% man-made since we created the environment for this virus to flourish.
  • In 2015, another Avian Flu outbreak, this time in the US, resulted in 43 million birds being killed in various states. Not one person died from this outbreak.

Click here for a lot more about zoonotic infections (human diseases which originated in animals).




The largest contributor to landfills is actually food waste and livestock accounts for the greatest amount of waste in the food sector. One of the issues involved in food waste is all the unnecessary death that the food industry creates. Ethical issues aside, we voluntarily generate enormous amounts of death and waste. Some examples include:

  • The statistics in the previous section about the infectious outbreaks is not just sad because if the man-made infections themselves but it generated a tremendous amount of death and waste.
  • Worldwide, 60 billion farm animals are slaughtered annually for food. 10 billion in the US alone.
  • 40% of the fish killed annually is “by-kill”, animals killed by accident by getting caught in nets or fishing lines. This accounts for 38 tons of dead fish and other sea life. The conservative estimates are that this many sea creatures perish as by-kill:300,000 small whales and dolphins.250,000 endangered turtles.300 sea birds, some of which are endangered like albatross.
    • 50 million sharks. This is in addition to the 100 million caught intentionally for food or trophy!
    • Trolling for shrimp generates 10 lbs. of by-kill for every 1 lb. of shrimp caught.



These days, everyone is likely feeling the pinch of rising food prices. Food is the third biggest expenditure for American households, behind housing and transportation, and rose to 12.4% of household spending in 2021. As of September 2022, grocery store food prices were 13% higher than in September last year, according to the USDA.

Overall agriculture, food, and related industries in the United States totaled over $1 trillion, or about 5% of the country’s GDP in 2021. Almost half of U.S. land is used for agriculture, and the direct output of America’s farms contribute $134.7 billion, or about 0.6% of the country’s GDP.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to celebrate harvest, and dates back to the days before the plentitude of supermarkets, when both colonists and Native Americans scraped their living off the land. Being hungry was a common worry. Crops grown by Native Americans included squash, pumpkins, gourds, sunflowers and corn, and corn was a main food source for them and the colonists.

Today, corn is still one of the biggest crops in the U.S., but the vast majority of it is used for feeding livestock and making ethanol for energy. The corn crop in the U.S. was worth a whopping $71 billion in 2021, according to the USDA.

Total commodities receipts in the U.S. in 2021 were $434 billion, with animals and related products accounting for $196 billion (45.2%) and crops $238 billion (54.8%). Overall, the percentage of crops fed directly to humans is miniscule.

According to USDA’s 2021 data, these are the biggest crops in America.

  1. CATTLE and CALVES. $77 billion, accounting for 16.8% of the total.
  2. CORN. $75 billion, 16.4%. On average, U.S. farmers plant about 90 million acres of corn each year, nearly half (45%) is for ethanol production, which is used as a gasoline additive, solvents, and for alcoholic beverages. Another 40% is used as feed for cattle, hogs, and poultry.
  3. SOYBEANS. $51 billion, 11.2%. About 70% of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are used for animal feed, mainly poultry. About 15% is used for oils like salad oil or frying oil, and about 5% for biodiesel.
  4. DAIRY. $44 billion, 9.6%. Though milk consumption in the U.S. has decreased, its production has increased. As a result, the U.S. government and dairy companies have been purchasing the extra milk and storing it as cheese for years. The U.S. has a stockpile of 1.5 billion pounds of cheese worth around $3.4 billion sitting in cold storage around the country. 
  5. CHICKENS, BROILER. $33 billion. 7.3%
  6. PIGS. $30 billion, 6.5%. The U.S. has become one of the top five pork exporters in the world since 2000. Since 1990, the number of farms with hogs has declined by more than 70%, mostly because of a trend toward fewer but much larger hog farming operations. This has brought environmental issues to the forefront of public policy regarding the hog industry as animal density increases, so do concerns regarding air and water quality, occupational health and waste management.
  7. MISCELLANEOUS CROPS: 5% ($23 billion). The USDA isn’t forthcoming about what this category includes, other than hemp. It may include limes, which doesn’t appear as its own category, and most limes are imported to the U.S. To give you some idea, “miscellaneous” doesn’t include small crops like mohair, papayas, spearmint oil, mink pelts or coffee. Coffee was a $66 million crop in 2021, virtually all of it grown in Hawaii, and accounted for 10% of Hawaii’s state receipts.
  8. WHEAT: 2.7% ($12 billion). 50% of this is exported and 10% is used to feed animals. Another 10% is kept as seed leaving only 30% consumed by Americans.
  9. EGGS: 2% ($9 billion).
  10. HAY: 2% ($9 billion).Most hay is used to feed livestock. 
  11. FLOWERS: 1.5% ($7 billion).
  12. COTTON: 1.5% ($6.5 billion).
  13. TURKEYS:1.4% ($6.2 billion).
  14. All other animals and products used to raise them: 1.4% ($6.2 billion).
  15. GRAPES: 1.3% ($5.9 billion).
  16. ALMONDS: 1.2% ($5.3 billion).

    The rest on the list are all under 1% of total production in the US.
  • POTATOES. 35% of the potato crop is turned into french fries, 28% is used for fresh, and 13% goes to chips! The rest is used to produce biofuel or for such products as powdered mashed potato or as filler in other food products.
  • SORGHUM. A healthy grain, in the U.S. sorghum is mostly used for livestock feed and ethanol.
  • ORANGES. 84% ends up as juice, most of which has been sitting in massive vats for over a year with added coloring since the orange color fades.
  • TOMATOS. ~20% of all tomatoes end up as Ketchup. Heinz, the largest producer, contains only 20% tomatoes in its product! The rest consists of vinegar, high fructose corn syrup (sugar) , some spices and “natural flavoring” whatever the heck that is!
  • PEANUTS. Nearly all of it goes into peanut butter, sadly, the largest one being Jiffy.
  • BEETS & SUGARCANE. Almost exclusively used for sugar production.

If you look at the top 10 crops, 5 are flat out animals: cattle, calves, dairy cows, chickens and pigs. Turkeys come in at 13. The vast majority, 99% of them, are raised in CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. They are raised in inhumane ways, tortured and unceremoniously killed in horrible ways. An insignificant percentage are “free-range”, “grass-fed” or “pasture-raised”, and these terms mean nothing and are abused anyway. 

Of the 3 top10 agricultural crops, 50-70% is used to feed those animals with essentially 100% of hay being used as feed. 100% of those crops are conventionally grown with dozens of chemicals being used both in animals and their feed. If these crops were fed to humans, there would be no hunger anywhere in the world.

Less than 6% of all food produced for human consumption is organic, grown on less than 1% of all agricultural lands.

It is well established that the climate change caused by all the greenhouse gasses generated by the mest/agricultural industry is greater than all modes of transportation combined worldwide. It is also accepted, even by the most staunch agricultural supporters, that this system generates at least 18% of all greenhouse gasses. Some very detailed analyses estimate the number to be as high as 87%!

What does all this mean?

You need to think about what you eat, where it comes from and the impact what you eat has on your health, the world you live on and the animals we share the world with.



Honey is a thick, sweet, gold- or amber-colored liquid made by female honeybees (the role of the males is to mate with the queen). They fly far from their hive to collect nectar, the sugary juice in the center of flowering plants, and store it in the first chamber of their stomachs. When they have a full load, they fly back to the hive and regurgitate the nectar, which is passed from one worker bee to another through their mouths to reduce the nectar’s water level. Once the water content drops from its normal 70-80% down to 18%, bacteria and mold cannot grow and the nectar is transformed into honey. The bees then store the honey in hexagon-shaped honeycomb cells made of wax. Honeybees produce honey to feed their offspring and stockpile it for the winter months when flowers are not in bloom.

Although we traditionally think of bees as primarily pollinators and producers of honey, they also produce other very important products beneficial to human health. These include Royal Jelly and Propolis.

Propolis or “bee glue” is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Propolis is used for small gaps (approximately 6 millimeters (0.24 in) or less), while larger spaces are usually filled with beeswax. Its color varies depending on its botanical source, with dark brown as the most common. Propolis is sticky at and above 20 °C (68 °F), while at lower temperatures, it becomes hard and brittle.

While foraging, worker bees primarily harvest pollen and nectar, while also collecting water and tree resin necessary for the production of propolis. The chemical composition and nature of propolis depend on environmental conditions and harvested resources.

For centuries, beekeepers assumed that bees sealed the beehive with propolis to protect the colony from the elements such as rain and cold winter drafts. However, 20th century research has revealed that bees not only survive, but also thrive, with increased ventilation during the winter months throughout most temperate regions of the world.

Propolis’ properties may include:

  • Maintenance of the physical health of the hive, provided by anti-bacterial/viral/parasitic properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties, all of which can be transferred to humans when consumed.
  • Helps control allergies because they contain small amounts of pollen, stimulating our immune response (just like allergy shots or drops do) and by decreasing inflammation.
  • It contains valuable probiotics and has purported immune-boosting properties.
  • It reinforces the structural stability and provide thermal insulation to the hive.
  • It reduces vibrations in the hive.
  • make the hive more defensible by narrowing the existing entrance (in wild colonies) to a single “choke point” and by sealing holes. A hive will have a propolis reserve (as much as 1 lb.) for emergency patch jobs
  • Prevents diseases and parasites from entering the hive, and inhibits fungal and bacterial growth.
  • Mitigates putrefaction within the hive. Bees usually carry waste out of and away from the hive. However, if a small lizard or mouse finds its way into the hive and dies there, bees may be unable to carry it out through the hive entrance. In that case, they seal the carcass in propolis, essentially mummifying it, making it odorless and harmless.

Purported medicinal uses:

Propolis has been used in traditional medicine, especially traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). There is insufficient evidence to rate the effectiveness of propolis for any condition according to Western medicine. It was used topically on wounds during the Boer War.  The Incas would drink it to reduce fever. Propolis is under preliminary research for the potential development of new drugs associated with control of Candida albicans and immunomodulatory effects.

Other uses:

  • Propolis is used by some string instrument makers (violin, viola, cello and bass) as a varnish ingredient.
  • Some workers use it to seal the surface of newly made bridges. Propolis was purportedly used by Antonio Stradivari in the varnish of his instruments.
  • Propolis is used by some chewing gum manufacturers to make propolis gum.
  • Car wax. Propolis is used to bring about a chemical reaction to convert fats and oils into automobile wax during application

HONEY and POLLEN. Pollen is collected by the bees, mixed with enzymes, bunched into little balls which are carried on their hind legs back to the hive where it is used as the main protein source for the hive. Pollen is very nutrient dense. It has more protein per weight than any other animal source. It’s natures multivitamin. It’s high in minerals and vitamins, broad spectrum amino acids (BCAAs) and is highly enzymatic. Pollen increases endurance by increasing hemoglobin values in red blood cells increasing oxygen carrying capacity.

Honey has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. It’s also full of nutrients, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory drugs and enzymes, especially if raw. It can help with sleep by causing a much slower insulin production which allows the amino acid tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier where it’s converted into serotonin and then melatonin. It also helps maintain glycogen stores in the liver. If glycogen stores are depleted, it signals a crisis search for fuel which wakes you up at night. A tsp of honey (especially with apple cider vinegar) can be helpful.

ROYAL JELLY. Royal jelly (RJ) is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, as well as adult queens. It is secreted from the glands in the throat of nurse bees and fed to all larvae in the colony, regardless of sex or caste. All babies are fed royal jelly for the first 3 days of life and then they are transitioned to a diet of pollen and honey. The queen, continues to eat the royal jelly exclusively. To produce a queen, the larvae are put into the different cells. There is one cell that is made larger for the queen. The queen lays up to 1500 eggs a day. The rest do not have reproductive organs. She lives 3-5 years as opposed to regular bees who only live 6-8 weeks, during foraging season. It’s known as an anti-aging agent, hormonal stabilizer and fertility agent in traditional Chinese medicine. In Western medicine it has been shown to improve spatial reasoning. It’s a powerful brain tonic. RJ contains the only naturally occurring acetylcholine, a brain neurotransmitter responsible for the brain-body connection. RJ also contains 2 fatty acids, 10 HDA and AMP N1 Oxide which act as catalysts for neurogenesis. They promote brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF1) which helps prevent premature brain aging. It’s great for concussion recovery remedy.


  • The “Organic” label on honey means nothing since bees can forage for up to 5 miles away from their hive, much farther than the organic label requires. The pollen and sap can be contaminated with pesticides and herbicides from plants which are contaminated themselves.
  • Bees do produce a huge surplus of product, both honey and propolis. Big honey companies will remove too much honey however and replace it with sugar water since the bees need to eat something. This is not the same however and actually acidifies the hive.
  • Bees are naturally docile. They sting only when threatened. They don’t like overpowering fragrances like perfumes and dark colors are through of as predatory. They die when they sting humans because they have a barbed stinger which gets stuck in our skin and rips out their abdomen. They can sting other creatures and live because of the nature of the skin.  They communicate through pheromones and sense when you are afraid.
  • They are our #1 pollinators. They pollinate approximately 80% of our flowering plants, including about 75% of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts, grown in the US.W ithout them, we die! For more on pollination, click here.

A great source for healthy, ethical bee prod ucts is




Vegans do not consume any foods which come from or are produced by animals. Some very strict vegans even avoid foods which are commercially pollinated by bees as these bees are abused. Some foods commonly produced this way include almonds and avocados so this can be a real big issue for many people. The issue of products “produced by” animals is sometimes obvious, for example in the case of dairy products such as cheese and milk. But in some cases, these products are more vague. Honey is one of these gray zones.

There is no question that bees are just as sentient as any other animal and are deserving of protection. Bees have a brain and nervous system, and have been shown to demonstrate emotions and even exhibit pessimism, a significant sign of intelligence.

In the commercial honey industry, there are several unethical practices that are carried out on bees, including instrumental insemination (yes, this is actually possible), where typically between 8 to 12 drones are crushed to death and have their semen extracted from them. The queen bee is then restrained and has the semen injected inside of her. The queen bee will often have either one or both of her wings clipped, which is done as a means of identifying the queen bee and also to prevent swarming, which is where a single bee colony will split into two or more distinct colonies. This is bad for business as it reduces the honey production from that hive. 

Queen bees can be purchased online. They already have had their wings clipped and they can be mailed to your house.

Another terrible practice is intentional culling (killing off) of bees. When the honey has been harvested, the hives are often destroyed for the winter since it’s cheaper to kill off the entire hive than it is to make sure they have food during the winter months. Bee farmers will also often cull hives who aren’t displaying the ‘right’ temperament.

There are a number of ways that beekeepers will cull bee colonies. Practices include sealing off the hive and then pouring gasoline into the hive, drowning them with soapy water or gassing them to death with carbon dioxide. Alternatively some beekeepers will trap the bees in large industrial bin bags, which are then left in the sun to ensure the bees either suffocate to death or die due to the increasingly high temperatures in the bag. Sometimes beekeepers won’t cull the entire hive, but will instead “de-populate” a certain number of bees, or kill the queen.

Honey is a bee’s food. It is produced by bees by them swallowing nectar from plants, regurgitating it and then repeating this process many times. It takes about 12 worker bees an entire lifetime to create a single teaspoon of honey. However, because we take the honey, if the bees aren’t culled, they will be fed a sugar syrup which is missing many of the essential aspects of the honey that the bees require to be healthy. Couple this with the fact that honey bees are selectively bred, meaning that the population gene pool is narrowed, they are consequently at a significantly higher risk of diseases and large-scale die offs. 

Furthermore, honeybee hives are regularly traded locally and internationally, allowing the rapid spread of diseases and parasites, such as deformed wing virus and Varroa mite infections. These pathogens can affect wild bumblebee populations and spread between wild bee species when they visit the same flower.

It is a myth that we need to eat honey because bee populations are in decline.  It’s no secret that bee populations are in decline across the world, but in the past 50 years, the honey bee population has increased by 45%, so is the honey industry actually helping? 

There are well over 20,000 bee species worldwide. Honey bees, being but one of these species, can actively harm wild bee populations because they compete directly for nectar and pollen. Meaning that wild bees can be outcompeted. Initiatives such as urban beekeeping put more pressure on wild bees and worsen the decline. It is important for natural ecosystems that there are a variety of pollinators, as different pollinators will pollinate different plants.

Honey bees are extremely efficient at collecting pollen and returning it to their hives, but as a consequence they transfer little to the flowers they visit. They are much less effective at pollination than wild bees, and when honeybees occur in high numbers, they can push wild bees out of an area, making it harder for wild plants to reproduce, which is a huge problem because a lack of wild flowers is one of the main factors behind the decline in bee populations. 

The Department of Zoology at Cambridge University made the following statement:

“The crisis in global pollinator decline has been associated with one species above all, the western honeybee. Honey Bees are artificially-bred agricultural animals similar to livestock such as pigs and cows. But honeybees can roam beyond any enclosures to disrupt local ecosystems through competition and disease. Keeping honeybees is an extractive activity. It removes pollen and nectar from the environment, which are natural resources needed by many wild species of bee and other pollinators. Saving the honeybee does not help wildlife. Western honey bees are a commercially managed species that can actually have negative effects on their immediate environment through the massive numbers in which they are introduced.”

Ultimately, the production of honey has serious ethical concerns and from an environmental perspective, is contributing to the very problem that many of us think we are helping by purchasing honey in the first place.

If we really want to protect wild bees, we should focus on creating wildflower meadows and using our outdoor spaces more effectively in order to maximize the pollinator potential of a natural world. The best way we can do this is by adopting a vegan lifestyle and repurposing land that is currently used for animal agriculture. The most comprehensive study ever conducted on farming’s impact on the environment, concluded that we could free up 75% of current agricultural land by switching to a plant based diet. Click here for a link to this study.

Now that’s a lot of land for wild bees and pollinators.



Bees are fascinating, intelligent and communicative animals. Many vegans are against consuming honey because bees are abused and killed on a pretty massive scale in the industry. Practices like clipping the queen bee’s wings, artificial insemination and mass killing of hives, even by burning them with the bees inside, are common practice in the industry. Many bees die while being transported to places to assist in pollinating and growing such products as almonds and avocados, which some hard-core vegans also refuse to eat. As mentioned on the Environmental page, bees are one of our main pollinators and their numbers are on the decline. When the bees die, we die. It’s as simple as that. The honey that the bees produce is for their use. They eat it and as mentioned above, use it to build their hives. There are many alternatives to honey, if you want something sweet. Natural products like agave, from cactus plants, and maple syrup are just as good and are cruelty-free.

We might not think of bees’ welfare when we buy honey, in the way we might think of hens’ welfare when we buy a box of eggs. But bee-keeping practices lie on a spectrum between industrial-scale bee-keeping and bee conservation. Regular removal of honey from hives can contribute to declining honey bee populations, especially if the honey comes from a business driven by profit.

And even an organic approach to honey production, which involves sustainable agricultural practice and better animal welfare, often fails to put bee welfare before human desires. Growing movements such as ‘natural’ and ‘balanced bee-keeping’ promotes a bee-centered approach to hive management. This emphasizes bee welfare, and encourages the natural behavior of bees. Honey is only taken when plentiful and appropriate.

If we want to encourage a more sustainable approach to bee-keeping, we need to think of honey in a different way – a special occasion treat or natural remedy.

As shoppers, we have a couple of choices. Besides the bigger brands, there are hundreds of small-scale honey producers in the UK. It hasn’t been possible to include all of these in the report, but Ethical Consumer recommends we look out for:

  • Local honey Buy from a known source (ideally organic or uncultivated land), where the honey is produced by individual bee-keepers who practice balanced bee-keeping. Read Ethical Consumer’s honey guide for tips on what questions you can ask, to be sure they take bee welfare issues seriously.
  • Ethical honey The guide recommends Equal Exchange organic Fairtrade honey as the Best Buy. Next best is Tropical Forest’s Fairtrade and organic honey.




The average American eats 250 eggs/year. That does not include the eggs contained in processed foods. The US produces 76 billion eggs annually. There is 1 egg-laying chicken for every American, about 290 million.

Some people feel that eggs are cruelty-free since the chickens are not killed. This is a very erroneous notion. Not only do many chickens die during their egg-laying years (which is about 2 years and they are eventually all killed), but they live miserable, tortured lives.

As with many other foods, we do not think about what eggs are and where they come from. They are the product of chicken menstruation. Under natural conditions, if an egg is not fertilized, it drops, usually breaks and rots away. Today, we raise chickens in a way to make all the eggs unfertilized and we put great stresses on the chickens to keep producing eggs and forcing them to continuously molt (a rest-state when they shed and renew their skin and feathers) resulting in constant egg-laying state, and theoretically higher quality eggs.

An egg-laying chicken’s life starts at a hatchery where within 1-2 days of birth, the female chicks are separated from the male chicks which are useless to the egg industry. The male chicks (about 50% of all the chicks) are either thrown alive directly into garbage bags for disposal or more commonly, they are slid down a chute into a macerator where they are ground live and converted into garbage or sold for feed (click and watch this if you have the stomach for it). Poultry is not covered by the Humane Slaughter Act and this type of animal disposal is perfectly legal. By the way, rabbits are considered “poultry” and are also not protected by this law.

Chickens live their entire lives in a space the size of a file drawer, often shared with as many as 11 other chickens. These are called “battery cages” and this extreme crowding practice has been outlawed in many countries. They have no room to move or stretch out their wings. These cages are stacked one on top of another and the feces and urine drop on the chickens below. To limit the chickens injuring each other in these crowded cages, they have the tips of their beaks cut off without anesthesia using a searing hot blade. This is extremely painful and many chickens die from dehydration or malnutrition because it becomes too painful to eat or drink as they are healing.

In 1966, distorting red contact lenses were invented by engineer Randy Wise. This eased the stress of chickens who were not used to their stressful living conditions and, as a result, they pecked and cannibalized themselves. The lenses also resulted in egg-laying chickens to lay more eggs because they were more relaxed. Because these lenses were considered “burdensome” for farmers, automated de-beakers, which very painfully burned off the ends of the beaks, were developed and accepted as standard industry norm.

After a hen has been producing eggs for several months, she becomes increasingly likely to “molt” at which time egg production stops. The rest from egg laying allows the hen to restore its plumage condition by shedding old feathers and growing new ones. The hen’s reproductive tract is rejuvenated, allowing it to increase its rate of egg production and produce higher quality eggs when it returns to lay. Under natural day lengths, molting tends to coincide with the change in season so that hens molt in the fall after they cease egg production due to declining day lengths. However, if artificial lighting is provided, a hen may molt at any time of year. This is partly why egg-laying chickens are kept indoors without sunlight their entire lives. One cruel way that chickens are forced to lay eggs continuously rather than in a more natural rhythm is to starve them. This creates extreme stress which artificially causes them to molt so they are ready to lay eggs faster. They can be starved for as long as 14 days! This practice has also been banned in many countries but not the US.

After about 2 years of forced egg laying, the chickens’ bodies become so weakened, malnourished and depleted of calcium, they can no longer lay sell-able eggs and they are sent for slaughter, again not covered by the Humane Slaughter Act. In many cases, they are decapitated alive while being suspended by their legs, just like the chickens raised for meat. Their meat is often of poorer quality and is used for “second tier” products like canned soups or feed for other animals. This grade of chicken meat is also used in kids schools lunch programs!

The “free range” label means absolutely nothing as well. The term is not regulated and is used to sell more chickens. The only requirement is that the chicken have the ability to leave the coop. Most never do since all their food is kept indoors.





Mercy For Animals. org Animal welfare site.

Wold Wildlife Fund

Environment and animal farming – good primer on environmental issues.

Facts about farm animals – basic information about animal welfare.

“Do Animals Think and Feel?”  TED Ex Lecture by Sy Montgomery, a Naturalist.

Fish Count Estimates

How The Fish Oil Industry Kills Dolphins and Whales



Cowspiracy  Documentary movie about animal cruelty and the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.







“Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism”  Malanie Joy, PhD

Discusses the notion that some animals are OK to eat but some are not.




What A Fish Knows”  Johnathan Balcomb

Fish are much more intelligent, social and interactive than we realize




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