How to Give Animals a Good Life
In order to give animals the respect they deserve, it is important to make sure they have a good life and a good death.
Unless there are religious reasons for not eating a particular meat, eating good quality, well reared meat is a pleasure. Knowing that the animals were treated right is a key part of the food chain and the recent increased awareness of intensive farming means that we are all better informed.
Being better informed means that we all now know that intensively reared meat and poultry is the very worst of lives for the animals - they are squeezed into tiny amounts of space, pumped full of low quality, high additive feed and killed in a way that terrifies them.
Supply and DemandThe opposite of this is animals that have had a good life - the irony is better reared animals taste better, too, so it is wins all round for the consumer. The only downside for the consumer has been the price of better quality meat, but if we all chose it the prices will come down and we will be able to know that we are not just saving a few pennies to the detriment of animal welfare.
Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) provides a number of guidelines for what is required for animals to be cared for, although the minimum standards are not recommended as a best case scenario. Animals need enough space to roam, plenty of quality food, free drinking water and regular vetinary care.
It is also part of a good life that the slaughter of the animal is respectful, too with their guidelines including drinking water available, careful loading and unloading of the animals into suitable vehicles, animals that may get aggressive due to emotion or gender to be separated and for all processes to be carried out by fully trained personnel.
Animal Characters and PreferencesOrganic and free range farmers will often state that their meat, poultry and eggs are of a great quality because of the extra care that they give their animals. Cattle, pigs and chickens have their own characters and preferences, so to be raised in an environment where their behaviour and welfare is carefully considered makes for a far happier animal.
The Japanese delicacy of Waygu beef takes this concept to the extreme and its popularity is reaching the UK, too. This special breed of cow is allowed to drink beer and premium quality grains and is regularly massaged. It is believed that this not only relaxes the animal but also helps to create a flavourful, well marbled meat.
Rare breed pork farmers also understand the importance of understanding their animals. Breeds such as Gloucester Old Spot and the Essex Pig are more placid and content when allowed to roam and forage freely. Owners get to know their animals and can tell when they are not well or in any pain and can ensure that they are well cared for.
Animals respond well to human touch, good nutrition and fresh air. By ensuring cattle, sheep and pigs receive this treatment, perhaps we are more likely to respect the lives of the animals we eat as we understand their needs are not so different to our own