October 24th, 2014 Ethical Pork

An Open Letter to Vegetarians and Vegans

Going vegan or vegetarian is admirable, and we at Farms Not Factories fully support it, hence the ‘go meat-free’ option on our Pig Pledge form. We recognise however that for many people going meat-free is not an option, so we make it easier for them to choose ethically produced pork through our supermarket labelling guide and high welfare pork directory.

The realities of factory meat production horrify people when they become aware of how the system works, but livestock farming founded on sound, humane practice, does have a place in our food system. Factory farming does huge damage to rural livelihoods, the environment, animals and our health, whereas real farming, where the pigs have plenty of space, fresh air, daylight and bedding such as straw, employs rural communities rather than alienating them, treats animals with veneration and is sensitive to the ecology of the land in which it works. We must be careful not to paint all livestock farming with the same brush.

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Livestock farming is not simply a means of production, like all food production it has a rich cultural and socio-economic history – it has shaped the British countryside (for example dry-stone walling and hedgerows) and its rural communities. To lose traditional, small-scale livestock farms would be to lose a wealth of tradition, knowledge and practice. There are many rural skills that surround livestock farms, such as stockmanship, butchery and veterinary medicine, and indeed a whole way of life. Further, in a world where food security and sovereignty are increasingly important, we can, if we do choose to eat meat, support local farmers by buying from farmers’ markets and local butchers.

It is important to remember that animals are not the only casualties of a globalised and industrial meat industry. Ted Genoways’ recent book The Chain speaks of an industry in which the violation of workers’ rights is practically institutionalised. Tracy Worcester’s documentary Pig Business reveals the social, environmental and health impacts of the industry on local communities. In Latin America, much of the land used to grow soy for animal feed in Europe has been grabbed from local communities, cleared and burnt, then regularly sprayed with chemical herbicides and pesticides that kill wildlife and damage human health. To choose pork from sustainable and local farms therefore, is to vote for a world free of these ills.

We would ask vegans and vegetarians to support sound practice in agriculture because it is ethical in ways that go beyond animal welfare, and will help to create a fairer and more sustainable world for everyone. The Pig Pledge is not just for meat eaters, it exists to give people the information to make more informed choices about the pork they eat. Even if you don’t eat meat, we ask you to take The Pig Pledge and add your voice to the thousands of people that are saying NO to factory farming.

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