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What is the Solution to Factory Farming?


Gestation Crates

Breeding sows in gestation crates. Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.

The cruelty of factory farming is well-documented, but what is the solution?

Go vegan.

Can't we continue eating meat and other animal products and just treat the animals humanely?

No, for two reasons:

  • Nine billion land animals are killed for human consumption every year in the United States. People who argue that animals should be treated humanely before they are slaughtered do not comprehend the magnitude of the situation. Humans eat far too many animals and animal products for the animals to all live on idyllic rambling farms. A single battery hen building can hold over 100,000 hens in cages stacked on top of each other. How many square miles of land would be required to humanely raise 100,000 chickens so that they can establish separate flocks with their own pecking orders? Now multiply that number by 3,000, because there are 300 million egg-laying hens in the US, approximately one per person. And that's just the egg-laying chickens.

  • Most importantly, no matter how well the animals are treated, subjugating animals for meat, milk and egg production is antithetical to animal rights.

Shouldn't we reduce suffering where we can?

Yes, we can reduce some suffering by eliminating certain practices in certain areas, but this will not solve the problem. As explained above, we cannot humanely raise nine billion animals. Going vegan is the only solution. Also, keep in mind that some meat, eggs and dairy products are misleadingly marketed as "humane" but offer only marginal improvements over traditional factory farming. These animals are not raised humanely if they are in larger cages, or are taken out of cages only to live in overcrowded barns. And "humane slaughter" is an oxymoron.

Can't I just go vegetarian?

Going vegetarian is a great step, but consuming eggs and dairy still causes the suffering and deaths of animals, even on small "family farms" where the animals roam freely. When egg-laying hens or dairy cows are too old to be profitable, they are slaughtered for their meat, which is generally considered low quality and used for processed meat products. Male layer chickens are considered worthless because they do not lay eggs and do not have enough muscle to be useful as meat chickens, so they are killed as infants. While still alive, male chicks are ground up for animal feed or fertilizer. Male diary cattle are also considered useless because they do not give milk, and are slaughtered for veal while still very young. Going vegan is the only solution.

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