A cute piglet looking towards camera, it's ears a illuminated by the sun

Animals raised for food and ‘fashion’.

Many people are shocked to learn that animal protection laws permit the cruel treatment of animals in farming systems and slaughterhouses.

Billions of animals killed.

There are 70 billion animals who are slaughtered for food globally each year. Most of these animals will have suffered during the process – and their final moments on this Earth will have been filled with fear and pain.

This figure does not include fish or other sea creatures who are measured only by tonnage.

Two out of three of the animals killed will have been factory farmed. Animals in factory farms – primarily chickens, pigs and fish – are denied basic legal protections and subjected to cruel surgical procedures without being given pain relief.

Factory farms deny animals any quality of life – for their entire lives. And this is despite us fully understanding the sentiency of all animals, that they feel fear and pain and have unique social and behavioural needs.

Animals raised for food are treated like units of production rather than the living, feeling beings that they are. They are valued only for the meat or products (like eggs, milk and cheese) that their bodies can produce.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A calf resting in the grass, with the mother watching over.

Skins, fur and feathers.

There are other ‘products’ that come out of slaughterhouses too – animals raised for food and then killed, are often stripped of their skins to make leather. Even unborn calves (called ‘slinks’) are taken from their dead mothers and skinned. The production of leather is highly toxic which makes leather not only a cruel co-product of the meat industry but bad for the environment too.

Leather doesn’t only come from cows but the skins of many animal species including lambs, crocodiles, dairy calves and kangaroos are also harvested to make bags, boots, clothing and household accessories.

A closeup of a sheep
Cute rabbit eating greens and looking at camera with green background
Cute rabbit eating greens and looking at camera with green background

Our woolly, furry and feathered friends are also exploited in the name of ‘fashion’. Sheep farmed for their wool can be subjected to painful surgical procedures without pain relief.

Duck, geese and ostrich feathers are plucked – often while the animals are still alive – to fill down jackets and cushions. And fur-bearing animals like chinchillas, mink, rabbits and foxes are often factory farmed for their pelts.

Both the farming practices and slaughter of animals raised just for their skins, fur and feathers is largely unregulated. After months of suffering, these animals may be killed by electrocution, gassing or by breaking their necks. These methods are designed to avoid damage to the animals’ pelts but can cause great suffering.

For most of us, when it comes to animals, our compassion doesn’t discriminate. But the laws that exist to protect them, do.
Broiler chickens inside a factory very big farm
A baby chicken chick in the hands of an elderly male
A baby chicken chick in the hands of an elderly male

Laws do not protect them.

Because farmed animals are born into the category of ‘food’ or ‘fibre’ they are denied the same legal protections as those born into the category of ‘friend’, like dogs and cats. An act that would be a prosecutable cruelty offence if committed on a dog is legally accepted as ‘standard practice’ if committed on a cow, pig or fish. This cruel double-standard prioritises industry profits and ignores the fact that all animals share the capacity to suffer.

Through public education, industry and government lobbying, animal advocates around the world have worked for decades to have the sentience of farmed animals considered and prioritised in policy making. Yet even the most reasonable position – that animals should be provided with quality of life and protection from cruel treatment – is resisted by industries and governments.

Mother pig inside a cage looking out at her piglets
Credit: Compassion in World Farming

Governments do not protect them.

The unwillingness of governments to regulate reform has left animals abandoned to harm, and farmers and workers reliant on production-driven systems built on animal suffering. And this inevitably impacts the well-being of all.

It is time for us to question whether these systems serve us; the humans employed in them; our planet; and importantly, whether they reflect the relationship we want to have with our fellow beings.

Our campaigns shine a light on the suffering of animals in farming systems and empower consumers to make more conscious, kinder choices. After all, it’s the demand for animal products that has led to farming practices that deny animals their most basic needs and desires.

Every time you choose a kinder food or fashion alternative, you are helping reduce the demand for animal products that has underpinned systems of suffering.

Sheep leaning against man's arm affectionately
Credit: Tamara Kenneally Photography
Plant based cob loaf with mixed greens
Plant based cob loaf with mixed greens

Our choices can protect them.

Caring about some animals and not others, was never your idea. Protecting some animals from cruelty and not others was never your decision. We inherited a world that decreed some animals friends and others food, some animals worthy of kindness and not others. But what if we were meant to care about them all?

We can’t change the past, but we can shape a kinder future. By using our power as a consumer and by making the kindest choice, we can all help transform our farming systems and along with them, the lives of animals.

What we eat and wear can be a powerful agent for change – for us, for our planet and for the animals – and will create the pathway to a kinder world for all.