Animals Used for Food FAQs
“Don’t farmers treat their animals well to get them to produce more milk or eggs?”
Animals on factory farms don’t gain weight, lay eggs, or produce milk because they are well cared for, comfortable, and happy; they produce more because their bodies have been pumped full of medications and hormones. Factory farmers raise so many animals that it’s pretty much impossible for animals to receive individual attention or proper veterinary care. Plus, it’s cheaper for farmers to keep animals in horrible conditions.
“What will we do with all the chickens, cows, and pigs if everyone becomes a vegetarian?”
The whole world isn’t going to stop eating animals overnight, but as the demand for meat decreases, the number of animals raised for food will also decrease. Farmers will stop raising so many animals and turn to other types of agriculture. When there are fewer of these animals, they will be able to live more natural lives.
“If everyone only ate vegetables and grains, would there be enough to eat?”
Yes! We feed so much grain to animals to fatten them up so that we can eat them that if we all became vegetarians, we could produce enough food to feed everyone on Earth. In the U.S., animals raised for food eat 70 percent of the corn, wheat, and other grains that we grow. The world’s cattle consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion peoplemore than the entire human population.
“Do vegetarians have difficulty getting enough protein?”
Most Americans get at least twice as much protein as they need, and too much protein, especially animal protein, can increase your risk of osteoporosis and kidney disease. You can get enough protein from whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, beans, corn, peas, mushrooms, and broccolialmost every food contains protein. Unless you eat a great deal of junk food, it’s almost impossible to eat as many calories as you need for good health without getting enough protein.
“Don’t humans have to eat meat to stay healthy?”
Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Dietetic Association have given a thumbs up to vegetarian diets. Studies have also shown that vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels than meat-eaters and are far less likely to die of heart disease or cancer. The consumption of meat and dairy products has been linked with diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, clogged arteries, obesity, and asthma.
“Don’t cows need to be milked?”
Cows only produce milk to feed their babies. Farmers make sure that cows raised for their milk have a calf each year so that they’ll continue to produce milk. These calves are taken from their mothers when they are just a day or two old so that humans can have the milk. If farmers didn’t take calves from their mothers, the calves would drink the milk, and there would be no need to milk cows.
Female calves are killed immediately or raised for their milk. Male calves are kept in veal crates that are so small that they cannot even turn around. After about 17 weeks, they are killed for their meat.
“Can fish feel pain?”
Research has shown that fish can feel pain. According to Dr. Donald Bloom, animal welfare advisor to the British government, “Anatomically, physiologically, and biologically, the pain system in fish is virtually the same as in birds and mammals.” Fish have fully developed brains and nervous systems and very sensitive mouths. Fish use their tongues and mouths in much the same way that humans use their hands, to catch or gather food, build nests, and hide their offspring from danger. Fish also experience fear. An Australian study found that when fish are chased, confined, or otherwise threatened, they react with increased heart and breathing rates and a burst of adrenaline, just as humans do.