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Why Would I Want to Purchase Humanely Raised Meat?

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  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2016
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With a growing awareness of where their food is coming from, many consumers are being incited to buy humanely raised meat and other animal products. Since humanely raised meat is more expensive than conventional meat, some people quite reasonably ask why they would want to purchase the more expensive product. There are a number of reasons to choose humane over traditional animal products, ranging from ethics to environmentalism. Educating yourself about humanely raised meat will help you to make a more informed decision at the grocery store.

Before delving into the reasons to choose humanely raised meat, it helps to take a quick look at the two basic styles of animal raising which prevail in many industrialized nations. The first is “traditional” farming, which is sometimes better known as “factory farming.” In a factory farming situation, animals often endure brutal, cramped conditions, and they are treated like commodities rather than individuals. Often abusive situations such as those found in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are not only bad for the animals; they are bad for the environment. Cramped conditions breed serious disease, and CAFOs are often unable to cope with the volume of animal waste generated, which can lead to serious pollution problems.

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On a humane farm, the approach to animal raising is different. Typically, though not always, the animals are raised in more spacious conditions, with a focus on preventative care for the animals and the environment. On some humane farms, animals rotate through fields with other animal species and plants, in the hopes of creating a more healthy farm environment. The animals are allowed to mature at their own rate, and they are handled gently throughout their lifetimes and the slaughter process. Some organizations offer meat certifications such as the Free Farmed certification to farms which practice humane farming techniques.

One of the most obvious reasons to choose humanely raised meat is, of course, ethical. Many people who eat meat would prefer to eat meat which has been raised in pleasant conditions, because animals are sentient living organisms. Some animals, such as pigs, have also demonstrated some self-awareness, which makes the thought of existing in the miserable conditions of a CAFO very distasteful.

Another reason often cited is the desire to purchase locally raised meat. For people who are interested in meeting their meat producers, humanely raised meat is a conduit to meeting farmers and seeing the conditions on a farm first hand. Locally raised food also tends to be generally better for the environment, since it involves less food miles. It also benefits local economies, by keeping spending local.

Some people also believe that humanely raised meat has a better flavor. This may be due to more balanced conditions, which include a wide and varied diet along with the ability to play and exercise. Factory farmed meat tends to have a dull, uniform flavor, since the animals are fed very unhealthy diets and prevented from living ordinary lives. While it may be cliché to say that consumers can “taste the freedom,” they can taste the impact that an animal's diet has on its flesh.

Finally, humanely raised meat is usually better for the environment. Since humanely raised meat tends to be brought up on small farms, there is a focus on caring for the environment which CAFOs do not have. Because a much smaller number of animals is handled, the farmer can process manure properly, keep the land in good condition, and take the time to rotate animals and crops for healthy soil. A CAFO, on the other hand, cannot afford these measures, because thousands of animals are cramped into a small space, generating thousands of tons of waste products. These waste products end up in the air, the soil, and the water, leading to serious environmental problems.

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anon17108
Post 7

Animals that are "humanely raised" are treated no better than animals that are factory farmed. When you buy "humane" labeled meat, you are buying the flesh of animals that had no better lives than the others, and at the end of their lives they are sent to the same horrific slaughterhouses, with all their attendant abuses, than animals that come from factory farms.

"Humane" labeling is nothing more than a marketing ploy by the meat industry intended to make people feel better about eating meat. It says nothing about actual treatment and use of these animals. All you have to do is research the issue for yourself and you can find this stuff out.

It always amazes me

that most people will just buy what they're told without question, when clearly they are being fed information from corporations that want to sell them products. If you're concerned enough to want so-called "humanely raised" meat - myth though that is - then you should be concerned enough to actually do your research and find out that these animals suffer as horrible as any others.
anon17097
Post 6

There's good reason to buy humanely raised meat (and pork, and milk, and eggs): it simply tastes better.

When cows (or pigs) are stressed during their lifetime, their muscular tonus is higher, and the meat isn't as tender after cooking as that of cows or pigs which don't know about stress. Stress can be induced by too many animals in too little space, or other farm factory practices.

When an animal's diet is composed of only a few carefully selected materials, ensuring the fastest weight gain, it doesn't matter too much for the health of the animal, since it will be slaughtered quite young (about the age of 14 to 18, in terms of human life, usually). Only

, a monotonous diet, focused solely on weight gain, also damages the taste of the meat. Instead, if animals are allowed to eat whatever nature has made them fit to eat, the variety of the food betters the taste of the meat.

There's another reason to eat humanely raised meat: it's better for your health. Eating factory farm meat means essentially eating the same thing the animals ate, but in a concentrated form. If the animals had a bad diet, you eating their meat means also bad diet. Eating the meat of animals which ate lots of various things, besides being tastier, is healthier.

zero2hero
Post 5

A better question would be, "Why would anyone dare sell me any meat that is NOT humanely raised?".

anon17079
Post 4

Cashew, I really like the Animal Welfare Approved label. This seal is a great indicator for people looking for meat (and eggs & dairy) from humane family farms. Animal Welfare Approved was recently endorsed by the World Society for the Protection of Animals as having the highest animal welfare standards of any 3rd party certifier, and requires that all animals have access to pasture and are given the freedom to express their natural behaviors. There's a searchable database on their website that you can use to find products carrying the seal near you. Of course, the most reliable way to be sure is to visit the farm yourself, but 3rd party verification from a reputable organization (like Animal Welfare Approved) is a good option if you aren't able to.

anon17072
Post 3

If you really want to do something about meat production, stop eating it. It is said to take ten pounds of vegetable matter to make one pound of meat. But some will object to hurting the plants. The only solution to that is to kill off, abort or not have any human offspring, then there won't be the need for so much food and the poor animals and plants will have a better life. Going organic or humane would likely lead to widespread hunger and lots of human death from it.

cashew
Post 2

Where can I buy humanely raised meat? Is there a *reliable* inspection/labeling system?

anon17048
Post 1

If we wish to be humane then we would not slaughter animals for food, whether humanely raised or not.

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