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Editor's Note: Matthew Prescott is food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States.
As food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States, I have the privilege of working with people all over the country taking steps to help farm animals every day. Fortunately for the animals, one needn’t be a full time advocate to help make things better for pigs, chickens, cows and other farm animals. Here are five small ways to make a big impact toward building a more humane food system.
Five Easy Things You (Yes, You!) Can Do To Help Farm Animals: Matthew Prescott
If each American simply chose to go meat-free just one day a week, more than a billion fewer chickens, pigs and other farm animals would be caught up in the factory farming system each year. The Humane Society of the United States advocates an approach of reducing the amount of animal products in your diet, replacing animal products with plant-based options and refining your choices by being a conscious consumer and seeking products with a higher welfare standard.
As more people de-emphasize meat in their diet, it’s no surprise to see Meatless Monday programs taking root in households, schools, hospitals and restaurants. Meatless Mondays , a popular international movement that promoted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, offers a great opportunity to celebrate a fresh take on eating in a way that people can feel good about.
2. Ask your legislators to support farm animal welfare reforms
Right now, there are bills pending in Congress (H.R. 3798 and S. 3239) that would offer some protection to hundreds of millions of egg-laying hens. Amazingly, in an all-too-rare case of adversaries finding common ground, most animal protection groups and most egg producers jointly support the legislation. But other factory farming industries - like the industrial pork and beef industry - have voiced opposition.
3. Support the movement to let pigs turn around
Fortunately, major food companies that purchase vast quantities of pork are taking a stand against this abuse. Since February, The HSUS has helped leading food companies announce policies that will require their pork suppliers to give pigs some freedom of movement and socialization. Taking this stance are some heavyweights in the food industry, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Kroger, Safeway, Denny’s, Sodexo, Oscar Mayer, Kraft Foods, Sonic, Cracker Barrel, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and Baja Fresh.
Despite all of this, there are some major pork producers that refuse to budge, and continue defending lifelong immobilization. You can help pigs today by using resources on our site to take action and let your voice be heard.
4. Encourage food businesses to switch to more humane products
Next time you are at your favorite restaurant, ask if the pork comes from factory farms that confine pigs in gestation crates, and if they do, explain why this concerns you. If they don’t have a veggie burger, ask why not. Every time you ask these questions, it plants a seed that can grow into significant change.
5. Get social! Let your online friends know you care
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.
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