A recent undercover investigation into the treatment of pigs on a UK farm has raised fresh concerns about the welfare of animals.
Footage obtained by the animal rights activist group Animal Equality appears to show pigs being violently mistreated over a period of 10 days.
If you’re feeling concerned about including factory farmed meat in your diet, we asked Clare Oxborrow, senior food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth, for some steps you can take to reduce your intake.
Of course, a quick sharp way to eliminate factory farmed meat from your plate is to go vegetarian or vegan. But her main piece of advice is to eat less and buy better. Her other advice includes:
Get into labels.
“Organic meat tends to have the highest welfare standards,” Oxborrow says. “When you buy organic, you can be assured that the animal has been treated well and had a humane death.” You can also look for Soil Association certification labels or those labelled RSPCA assured.
When you’re in restaurants, ask.
We’ve got control over the meat that we buy and cook. But eating out is another story. “Unless the menu says that [the meat in a dish] is free range, organic, RSPCA assured or Soil Association certified, then ask where it has come from,” Oxborrow says. The more people who ask, the more pressure the restaurant is under to make better choices.
Same in sandwich shops.
Grabbing a chicken baguette at lunch? “If it’s not labelled as high welfare, ask staff,” Oxborrow recommends. “They might not always know, but make it clear that you don’t want to buy meat that isn’t from high welfare animals.”
Think beyond the supermarket.
if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where there’s a farmers’ market, head down and get chatting. “You can talk to the farmer directly, and ask how they produce their meat – as well as eggs and milk,” says Oxborrow. You can then seek out produce that’s higher welfare and better for the environment.
Maybe reconsider that ready meal.
If meat is an ingredient in your ready meal, and it isn’t clearly labelled as high welfare, you may want to swerve. “Obviously it’s hard when you’re time poor and need to get dinner ready, but ready meals are more likely to contain poor quality meat, as it’s harder to trace,” says Oxborrow.
If you do want a ready meal for dinner, pick a vegetarian one, so you can be sure it’s factory farmed meat-free.