Meat Industry
Cultural habits, tastes and animal farming methods differ widely around the globe, so it would be a tall order to cover the huge subject of animals for consumption in a few short paragraphs. The following figures are just a small snapshot of how many animals are used in the farming industry to provide meat to an ever-increasing worldwide population. The figures do not include the number of animals that are killed by the dairy and egg industries.

An estimated 50 billion chickens are slaughtered for food and a billion sheep are taken to the abattoir every year and nearly 1.5 billion pigs are killed (i). More than 300 million cows were slaughtered for food in 2016 according to United Nations data (ii). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that a total of 156.2 million tons of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, and other aquatic animals were killed in 2011 (iii). These statistics do not include other animals killed for human consumption for the more “rarefied” palate, or those consumed seasonally, such as turkeys.

Egg Industry
The cruelty involved in the egg industry is equal to that involved in rearing animals for meat consumption, and of course ultimately hens reared for egg production will end their lives in the same abattoirs as the chickens reared for meat.

Chickens usually start out their life being born inside drawers of huge incubators at a hatchery. Male chicks are considered useless in the egg industry so they are discarded by being gassed or ground up alive in machines.

Free-range eggs are often eaten by people who believe that it is a more humane way of treating animals. Free range, however, does not mean that the chickens are treated well. Ostensibly, free range means that the animals are not kept in cages. They are however, most commonly confined indoors, sometimes in very crowded conditions. Practices like debeaking [a painful practice of removing the tips of the beak] are common.

Dairy Industry
It’s probably an obvious point to make, but many people forget the fact that for them to have their pint of dairy milk, dairy cows must become pregnant and give birth to calves to produce milk. Their udders are full so that they can feed their young, and not because, as some imagine, that they yield a never-ending supply of milk throughout their lives without pregnancy. Cows usually become pregnant through artificial insemination, which involves forcibly restraining them.

In a natural setting, calves suckle their mothers for up to a year, and maintain a strong bond with them for several years. However, in commercial dairy farming, nearly all calves are taken away from their mother within hours of birth, causing immense distress and suffering for both mother and calf. Male calves are of little use to the dairy industry and are either killed shortly after birth or sent away to be reared for veal on the continent where they are fed a low-iron, milk-based diet to keep their flesh pale. They are butchered at 8 months or less. For the limited number of calves allowed to survive, this forced separation has serious long-term effects on their physical and social development.

The life expectancy of a dairy cow is less than a quarter of its natural lifespan; dairy cows are considered spent between 7 -8 years and will have gone through the process of giving birth and enduring separation every year, never having experienced motherhood. The natural lifespan of a cow is generally upwards of 25 years where she has not been made to live a life producing milk for the industry.