Is “Humane Meat” a Viable Option?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Is “Humane Meat” a Viable Option?
Some people who care about animal welfare but still want to eat animal flesh and other animal products seek “humane” meat, dairy, and eggs. I agree with philosopher David Sztybel that “animal welfare” does not accurately describe methods that involve confinement and early death and that it is more accurate to describe positive changes for animals as “reduced animal ill-fair.” However, those determined to reduce animal ill-fair by choosing “humane” animal products run into practical difficulties.
The first difficulty, of course, is the difficulty of trusting producers’ claims that their methods do not include the typical, abusive methods of their industries. Indeed, as discussed last week, most animal products labeled as “humane” still involve severe crowding, killing unwanted male offspring in infancy, and early death of healthy animals. A second problem, as described in Jonathan Saffron Foer’s excellent book Eating Animals, is social. If a vegetarian or vegan is eating at someone’s house, the host generally accommodates their diet without feeling offended. On the other hand, if someone who eats only “humane meat” declines the host’s meal because its source is unclear (which almost always means it’s a product of factory farming), the host will often be offended. Rather than offend the host, many consumers of “humane meat” will elect to consume the products of factory farming in such situations.
While I applaud changes that reduce animal ill-fare, it is difficult to avoid causing great harm to nonhumans if we consume animal products. 

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