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More Vegetarians, But More Animals Being Eaten

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Why We Need Humane Education:
More Vegetarians, But More Animals Being Eaten

From Institute for Humane Education (IHE)
January 2012

If we want a world that shows compassion, justice and respect for all, regardless of species, we need humane education to help bring awareness and accurate information about the lives and deaths of "food" animals, to help people think critically and deeply about the impact of their choices and whether those choices truly reflect their values, and to offer positive solutions that honor animals, people, and planet.

Regardless of how we feel about the ethics of eating animals, most everyone who has a choice about whether or not to eat animals agrees that the conditions in factory farms are atrocious and insupportable. That's why recent news that more animals than ever are being eaten worldwide is disheartening.

According to sources collected by the the organization FARM, nearly 10.2 billion land animals were raised and killed for food in the U.S. in 2010, which is a 1.7% increase from totals in 2009. And according to a Worldwatch Institute report, "Worldwide meat production has tripled over the last four decades and increased 20 percent in just the last 10 years."

And these are just land animals. No one knows the totals for sea creatures for sure, but according to some reports, more than 53 billion aquatic animals were killed for food in the U.S. in 2010, and more than 1 trillion wild fish are killed worldwide each year (not including bycatch, farmed fish, or other sea creatures).

The good news is that in a recent poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group (they do this every few years), approximately 5% of people in the U.S. say that they are vegetarian, and half of those identify as vegan. Even more heartening is that about 1/3 of respondents say that they eat veg meals a significant amount of the time. And, according to a recent report, U.S. meat consumption is expected to decrease in 2012.

Even with those changes, the fact is that trillions of animals worldwide die for our plates each year, and the vast majority of those animals suffer immeasurably. If we want a world that shows compassion, justice and respect for all, regardless of species, we need humane education to help bring awareness and accurate information about the lives and deaths of "food" animals, to help people think critically and deeply about the impact of their choices and whether those choices truly reflect their values, and to offer positive solutions that honor animals, people, and planet.

If you want to start exploring some of these issues with your students, check out some of Institute for Human Education's activities, including those focused on animal protection.