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Is There Such a Thing as ‘Humane’ Meat?

Written by Ingrid Newkirk | September 28, 2012

Many PETA members have contacted us to ask whether they should support so-called “humane” meat. It’s a question that we all should be asking because this issue is very important—particularly for the billions of animals who are killed for our plates every year.

If you look around, society is at a turning point. Everyone from the NFL’s Arian Foster to Bill Clinton to Anne Hathaway is talking about how going vegan boosts one’s energy and keeps one looking slim and healthy. Grocery stores are packed with tasty vegan foods, from faux meats such as vegan chicken and ribs to dairy-free products such as rice milk ice cream and vegan cheese! It’s no longer a chore to ask for a vegan meal in restaurants, including steakhouses, and there are now vegan options at schools across the country. Some universities even have all-vegan cafeterias.

Now, more than ever before, it is time to be kind to animals by not paying someone else to slaughter them—something that happens even on so-called “humane” farms.

PETA has pushed hard and will continue to push hard to reduce the sum total of suffering in the meat, dairy, and egg industries—because that makes a huge difference if you are a pig or a chicken on a factory farm. We’ve stopped PETA protests outside Burger King or McDonald’s restaurants when those companies agreed to reforms, but that doesn’t mean that we would ever suggest eating meat from Burger King or anywhere else—because we know that massive suffering still goes into every bite. Yes, it’s better to pay extra for an egg from a chicken who had a marginally less hideous life than one who suffered more, but we must do better by animals. In fact, we have yet to find a “humane” factory farm where animals don’t have their tails cut off and their ears painfully notched, where they aren’t debeaked, dehorned, or castrated without anesthesia, where they aren’t kept in crowded conditions without sunlight or fresh air, where they don’t have their beloved children taken away from them, where they aren’t denied the companionship of others, where they aren’t sent to a feedlot, or where they are instantly dispatched without the trauma of capture, the horror of transportation, or the terror of seeing other animals killed before suffering the same fate.

PETA has pushed for vegan living since our inception in 1980. Our motto is: “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.” With so many vegan cookbooks and meal options available and with programs like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart and our wildly popular vegan starter kit, we can all help animals—and not miss a thing. Let’s live and let live, and tell others to come along with us, reminding them that animals have emotions and needs just as human beings do.

There is no such thing as humane meat. Giving animals a few more inches of living space is simply not enough. Animals deserve more. The momentum is on our side, but it will take every one of us to bring this change about by being active advocates of animal rights. Thank you!

Kind regards,

Ingrid E. Newkirk




Commenting is closed.
  • Sam says:

    If eating animals is so wrong, then why do animals eat other animals? I wouldn’t say these animals humanely kill the animals they eat.

  • Dave says:

    I only eat meat I hunt and am fortune I have the resources to do this

  • keith says:

    64 Billion sentient creatures killed every year around the world..and that’s not including industrial fishing or anything else you can come up with.. Humane ” I don’t think so ” !! look at it like this in the States.. 1 Cow, 4 Pigs, and 247 Chickens killed per it out these slaughter houses don’t give a damn what the animal suffers nor do the sadists who work in these places who daily take out their warped frustrations on helpless creatures. The Human Race is just evil and we all have behaved liked idiots.

  • Diane says:

    I stopped eating dead animals two years ago I feel better about myself

  • Realist says:

    Do PETA idealists really think their pointless protesting is going to stop the logical people from eating meat? A lot of PETA people are religious so I am going to say one thing. If animals are wrong to eat, then why did God make cows out of hamburgers? I am just kidding though. I support PETA, and I hope they legalize the marriage between animal and man so we can finally treat them like our equals! Me and my sheep will be together one day…

  • Kevin says:

    No there is no such thing…Look, did the animals consent to be eaten? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Did the animals consent to being slaughtered? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Did the animals ever consent to being tortured, abused and crueltied (had cruelty done against them)? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! So therefore, there is no such thing and I think everyone all over the world should consider eating meat substitutes like bugs or nuts or something.. I think the Human Food Pyramid is a joke! Whoever created it was obviously biased against veganism, etc.! We don’t need meat in our diets..There are other ethical, moral and alternative ways to get our daily 2000 calories, if we REALLY need that! Whatever happened to live and let live?! If they continue doing this to animals then I think stores should start selling human meat instead to compensate for the moral outrage this causes! I hold a PETA card in my wallet! LET THE ANIMALS GO! Sex with larger animals if consenting and no abuse is done would be preferred to eating these poor creatures!! Animals need Jesus now! 🙂

  • FarmGirl says:

    I would like to say that there are a few small-scale beef farmers, like my family and myself, that DO treat animals humanely. They have a great, big pasture to feed from, we do NOT give them hormones, and they definitely seem content. We walk through them every day, and if a cow or calf in sick or injured, we nurse it back to health. We understand about the cruelties of slaughterhouses and factory farms, and my mom has said that if we didn’t raise the cows ourselves and know that they were humanely raised, we would probably be eating a whole lot less meat. Just my little spew.

  • blake says:

    i had to give up eating plants cause they create oxygen through photosynthesis, animals are breathing my oxygen, and by eating extremely bloody and rare steaks oxygen is still in the blood so im getting it back. if you have a freezer full of meat and no longer want it so u can go petian, give it to a meat eater so the animal didnt die for nothing lol

  • Suzy says:

    I just wanna say, It’s not as if people would start dying from not eating meat. It’s a fact you can live a healthy life without meat. People who work at Slaughter Houses take the killing of an animal WAYYYY to far and it’s absolutely unnecessary and completely pathetic. If people want meat, than do it humanely without the ridiculous torture. There are more reasonable and painless way’s to get your meat. I’ve seen the nonsense and gruesome actions put upon these animals. I’d like something to be done.

  • Animal Lover says:

    EAT MORE VEGGIES! Animals are humans in a different form of life. They speak different languages to each other, they feel pain too. If anyone offers me any type of meat i will say, “I’m not a cannibl.” they should not die just for us. Do we need another bottle of shampoo? Do we really need to eat a dead animal? (pork, steak etc.) i am glad that peta exists. am glad to be a vegritarin and to buy stuff that is not tested on animals. i can not stand animal abuse! i would rather die then walk into a slaughter house or testing lab. THANK YOU PETA FOR UNDERSTANDING WHAT ANIMALS REALLY NEED US MORE THAN WE NEED THEM!!!

  • Emili says:

    Do we really need meat to survive? I don’t know about this, or have we been sold a bill of goods that benefits the mega agriculture industry? If you HAVE to eat meat, then kow where it comes from so you understand that the animals are being taken care of and living a normal humane life. Eating sick, depressed, toxic meat is only going to kill you slowly but surely.

  • Linda Witt says:

    Drive by a dairy farm or cheese factory or the whiff of a slaughter house and you will roll up your window and gag. Despite this I continued to eat animal products. Then 3 different doctors lectured me on my high blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides. To get them to shut up I adopted a vegan diet. Sugar 237 down to 85. Blood fat 260 down to 90. You do not need am animal based diet to live, you need to give it up in order to survive. Desperate for recipes I visited Petas website and have never been as grateful. Wonderful food and a new awareness of our relationship with nature, I no longer wear fur, leather, or wool. If you think, as I once did, that is a way to live, it’s not. I am 55 years old, it tooke that l

  • Christy says:

    Yes I do agree with everyone’s opinion that we humans should eat meat because our body is developed to be omnivorous. However, I do think that United States especially eats too much meat products, which causes our problem of obesity. I am an animal lover and would love animals to be treated much better than what it is now, it would be even better if humans could be “herbivores” and still get the nutrients we need. We can’t always live being vegetarian because we need the nutrients only meat can provide. you may say we can eat citamins or supplements but sometimes vitamins are made out of animal products apparently.

  • Rodrigo says:

    Okay PETA, let’s talk… I worked on a dairy farm close to a year and I can say that those cows lived in better conditions than my home. The only thing a cow is good for is boosting the economy and producing milk. Steer meat is important to our economy and a little iron is probably good for a growing child. Beans and more beans is probably not the way to raise a kid.

  • Marissa says:

    There is a way, haven they hear of rage free organic animals. The are not factory grown, they roam freely in the pasture, like the good old times, the only reason there is factory farms is for the high demand of food, and not enough people are producing. Plus vegetarian diet is not healthy , why do u think animals are for?

  • Dani says:

    Im a vivid animal lover, i agree on everything PETA stands for but the veggi thing. I believe a balanced diet is what we need. And thats backed up by science. But well today we can supplement our diet with vitamins were lacking and so on. One animal dies, so the other can eat. Thats the natural way. But then again, we humans are getting too many. And really there shouldnt be anything like hunger, we make enough food to feed everyone. Its just the problem of logistics and preservation. The worst thing i se is animals “farmed” horrid living conditions, no space to move nor seing sunlight. Thats torture all the way. But if you have a sheep roaming free eating grass on the plains and mountains with her herd. Im pretty sure shes a happy sheep, alltho she has to die so i can eat. The death of course, as humane as possible (read something about they choking rabbits thats just friggn sick!) But i feel nothing like that compares to when they extinct animals, where i live in Norway we have a total of 32 wolves. Goverment just put out hit on 12 wolves, cause the sheep farmers are complaining that they had stolen about 5 sheep a year. I mean comon, are you really gonna extinct our wolves cause the sheep farmer is too busy watching tv instead of watching his sheep. I mean in africa they herd there sheep alongside 23000 lions and 10000 cheetas. And they cant handle 32 wolves. Aswell as fox farms, my god, sickening. We got pretty much no use for animal skin, atleast not farm an animal only cause of its skin. Makes me wanna go rambo on em, well my 5 cents.

  • Mike says:

    It should be mandatory to be a vegetarian.

  • X says:

    Does the wolf feel remorse for killing its prey? No. Human beings are animals. Intelligent animals, yes, but animals still. If a wolf could create a building which contained many animals for it to kill and eat for its convenience, it would. WE have that power and technology, and like any animal with it, we use it. We’re just like wolves, but smarter.

  • Valou PICHON-RUPP says:

    Stop Torture

  • Servaege Muriel says:

    I had to give up eating meat a few years ago for health reasons. I must say I feel much better now. So, not eating meat is not only unnecessary but, in the long run, harmful. Therefore, I think it’s quite possible for anybody to eat much less meat, and to care much more for the fewer animals (I think of Australian sheep and cows) you nonetheless want to eat, and most of all, to imagine a mauch more humane way to kill them.

  • Sarah says:

    And I’d like to add, PETA is doing a fantastic job and restores my faith in humanity! Keep up the good work

  • Sarah says:

    I don’t think humans need meat per se, it’s just that there are availability issues around good quality protein alternatives and so meat is easier and thanks to massive subsidies with hidden costs, cheap-ish (for the moment). Factory farming is an abomination and in an ideal world we’d not eat meat but I feel that people will always want meat which is why I think it’s wise to push for small scale farming and generally a revolution in how we produce our food. And so, animals living lives suited to their genetic make-up, able to express natural behaviours, and then a pain-free, trauma free slaughter. The closest to this I ever saw was on TV – Jimmy’s Farm where a rare breed of pig was raised outdoors in a huge expanse of woodland and the slaughterhouse was on the same farm. Result: pigs seemed happy and when it came time to slaughter they were ushered in individually with clearly no idea of what was going on other than this was a new foraging opportunity. This is what we should be aiming for.

  • agriculture says:

    I myself HAVE witnessed animal slaughter (I’m vegetarian b/c I believe that euthanasia is not acceptable either) and it isn’t as bad as people say. The usual, standard method of slaughter is like being shot in the head point-blank, but with a retractable rod, which saves money on ammunition. The cows die instantly. Poultry is usually beheaded, which means they die instantly. Rabbits are usually choked (they are killed by hand), but rabbit is slowly being eaten less and less as it is expensive. Those videos of butcher factories presented as “reality” are actually the very bottom of the barrel. If I show you videos of two soldiers shooting Iraqi civilians, it doesn’t mean all of them do that.

  • Flora says:

    To choose a plant-based diet, isn’t that about taking a little more responsibility and actually make an active choice? Humans depend on many unsustainable systems, like economy, energy sources and of course, food production. Is that an argument that it’s “natural” for us, that evolution made us this way? A plant-based diet might be the solution to many diseases in the western world. Is it still natural for us to die in heart attacks and obesity? I know that I have to patient, because a plant-based diet is the future and will help us see more clear.

  • Kayla says:

    Just out of pure curiosity I’m wondering what people think of non vegans/vegetarians that eat meat from a home farm. I have friends who raise their own animals and they keep great care of them, and kill them with anesthesia. What do you guys think about it?

  • andie says:

    although humans have gone to extremes to cultivate meat for the masses, i would consider game humane meat. hunting is a human’s natural duty. we are omnivores. we are the most capable, and so we eat what is we can conquer. i wouldn’t consider a shark to be a maniacal asshole for hunting fish. its just the circle of life. @david, obviously, i wouldn’t kill my children with weapons just because i COULD. don’t be stupid. but we, as a species of animals ourselves, need to do what we can to survive. Eating meat took us this far, I think we should celebrate it, and advance towards more sensible solutions. But don’t put down the meat eater. We are NATURALLY meat eaters.

  • Patrick says:

    It’s nice that people can choose for themselves what to eat. Living in America gives us amazing opportunities and freedom in terms of food and nourishment. I’m glad there are people in the world that get to live how they want and choose to be vegetarian. I have worked as a butcher for both large, international corporations and for small, family-owned businesses in deep rural america. I agree that there are poor situations for many livestock and how they are taken care of. However people need to know that there are many farms/businesses that don’t abuse/torture their livestock. Peta, please continue believing how you do, but also please respect people when they choose not to follow your way of thinking. I have many vegetarian/vegan friends that are occasionally embarrased by your antics and insensitivity. Personally, I am an omnivore. I love many different kinds of foods all over the food pyramid and am very healthy because of it. I ask that you respect my choices as I respect yours. Since I always hear of peta officials wanting to “open dialogue” on these issues, I want to ask a few questions to start one. What do you think of animals that are carnivores/omnivores and eat meat? In that same tone, what do you think about humans having a teeth structure that is suited herbavores and carnivores? From researching your website, it appears to me that most of your “beef” is with the treatment of animals and not so much the eating of them. Is this accurate? If this is a true dialogue, I expect to be mutual: please feel free to ask questions too.

  • kathleen says:

    Alina, pretty harsh words towards another human being. I was raised in the city and moved 6 years ago to the mountains. I was very upset the first winter/spring I lived here do to the fact I saw at least one dead deer a week. There is a massive population of mule deer, and a healthy population of white tail, so many, that they are hit by cars, and semis on a regular basis. If they are not hunted or culled, disease also becomes a huge problem. I still dispies trophy hunters that chop the heads off to mount, or have them stuffed. But a ethical hunter that chooses to hunt to feed their family is not the enemy in my books. Don’t paint them all with the same brush, not all hunters are the same.

  • Kathleen says:

    I totally disagree with the statement that there is no such thing as humane meat. It costs a lot more, and is not as convenient as going to the local grocery store. I live in a rural area where the the cattle, pigs, and hens live a life of grazing on natural grasslands in the mountains and in the sun. When it is time to end their lives it is done painless, and without suffering. I love all animals, and have spent some of my life as a vegetarian. My husband is not, so this has been a comprimise that I do not have a problem with. I do have a problem with animals that are raised in a space they can’t turn around in, and pumped full of anything to fatten them up as quick as possible. The conditions are horrible, they never see sunshine, or walk in a open field. The feed lots are filthy and full of waste. The slaughter houses are full of fear and fecal matter,and many times these animals are not killed the first time. I feel the meat my family is consuming is worth the extra cost for our bodies and for the happiness of these animals that really do have a full life until their humane end.

  • Rational says:

    I think we as Americans do eat too much meat. I do not believe in the vegan agenda. I have no doubt that animals can feel pain and fear. I also have no problem eating them. Humans are a part of the eco system. We are omnivores. We are opportunistic feeders and our evolution has adapted us to this. Our raising animals on a mass scale is just a part of our evolution. I have no problem with anyone who decides to be a vegan in the same way I have no problem with a person deciding to be a Muslim. Good for you. Just don’t try to indoctrinate me or force me to believe as you do. For health reasons, I’m trying to eat less meat but I have no plan to ever eliminate it (nor will I give up on leather products). Lets all take a breath and step back from extremism.

  • vik says:

    the people that appears since 1996 talk about “humane meat” are just people that want that animals suffer even more until humanity became vegan because they think that tell go vegan is the only choice easy put humanity vegan but the reality is other!peta put millions vegans and vegetarians and help the poor animals suffer less and they should know the efforts of peta for meat in vitro.

  • theworldisasickmachinebreedingamassofshit says:

    Some people DO actually have to eat meat to stay alive and healthy. How ignorant and narrow minded is it for some rich, white, westerner, who lives in a first world country and can actually support themselves if they are willing to work, to tell people who are starving/malnourished that they can’t eat meat because it’s cruel to animals, many of which eat meat themselves for the same reasons? Lots of people can’t even get by with the food that’s available, let alone living off of plants alone. Maybe it is cruel to animals, but it is much crueler to deny yourself and your loved ones basic needs, I think. You guys only hold this ideology because you’re rich enough to afford it.

  • Alina says:

    @mark and all the meat eating savages if ur ready to hunt u should be ready to be hunted..i wouldnt even lay a finger to help u 🙂

  • Luxy says:

    People need to experience and see animals being tortured,attacked and cut alive.

  • Soldier79 says:

    I believe there is a more humane way to raise our meat. But then I also believe that hunting is a good thing. It keeps the population of animals to a healthy number.

  • Alexandra says:

    Two things: 1) Having recently visited Animal Place in northern CA, my vegetarian-leaning-to-vegan is pretty much nearly to the right in that sentence. But, having decided to become vegetarian when I went to college decades ago, it took me decades to find leather alternatives, learn about rennet, etc. etc. I _do_ feel there’s no excuse, if one is thinking about what one is actually ingesting: But people have to ‘evolve’ naturally, not because someone is making them feel guilty (as I’d love to do to all those chefs protesting the end of foie gras! shove it down their throats!) 2: BEWARE THE HIDDEN MILK PRODUCTS! Morningstar chicken tenders include whey or actual milk. And in the past week, checking out some soy cheeses, including those made by Trader Joe’s, I noted that casein or some milk product is included. I”m assuming this is because many of us are or have been lacto-vegetarians, and also because some people go to soy cheeses for lactose intolerance or similar, and the casein etc byproducts don’t affect them> But I’m planning to write TJ about this: if I buy soy cheese instead of real cheese, it’s because I’m trying to save a cow, after all. (Webmaster, I unclicked ‘sign me up’ because I’m already signed up, thx!)

  • David.H says:

    I hope you know that it´s possible to grow meat? It may sound extremely weird, but it´s possible to get normal meat without killing animals. You simply take a few cells from a living animal and through various gene-alternations you can get these cells from an animal to reproduce just like any other type of cell. Sure, by taking these first cells you have to cause a minor wound to a single animal, but I thinks that can be called “humane meat”

  • Barb Falls says:

    Let`s get real Humans. These are not the cave man days this is 2012 and I believe that even back in those days they could have eaten plants. We have no right to take an animals life. They share this earth too. Shame on those people who participate in the suffering of animals.

  • Sigita says:

    Why does majority always say that human is MEANT to eat meat because nature set things like that and because human is eating mean from stone ages. But did the people actually eat meat BEFORE the same PEOPLE invented fire to cook that meat? I do not think so. Because human beings do not even have right teeth to chew the raw meat, not talking about digesting it. so NATURE itself says that people actually are NOT meant to eat meat! It is just one of their “inventions”!

  • Anonymous says:

    Today in class we were talking about food choice. And the teacher that eating people should not judge what others eat, such as horse, chicken, dog meat, etc. But, I found it so utterly disgusting. Fuck her! No, eating any animal is NOT right. Animals deserve the right to live their lives, not being bred to be eaten. Period.

  • Dr. Zebub says:

    I believe that it is quite acceptable for a coyote, bobcat, etc. To kill a rabbit for its meal. They are animals. But then again so are humans. Meat can be humane. I support hunting, but I am not going to force anyone to do it, just as peta should not try and force others to be vegan. A healthy diet consisting of a balance of lean meats and vegetables and grains is way better for you than vegetables and grains alone. Processed “vegan” foods are just as bad for you as junk food in many cases, filled with preservatives, coloring, and binding agents that give it that “meat look”.

  • Daniel says:

    Are we so blinded that we no londlger realize that we are animals as well? Whether evolved or created by God or any other named or unnamed deity, we are animals. Is a coyote evil for killing a rabbit? Is he.not.justified? Instinct and survival are what.govern.our. Lnatural world. You’re looking right. Lthrough the real problem. Industry is what’s cruel, not that any of. us. could change or stop it. takes.the.normal cycle of nature and.altered it. is responsible for this but only.through his sloth and apathy. And mow I’m rambling and point will never g across. Especially with typos, eh

  • David says:

    It’s funny how humans rationalize anything they want to believe is right.Oh I eat everything I kill, oh it’s OK and humane if they’re killed instantly. Real tough guy, you can kill an animal from far away with a weapon. It IS inhumane to kill an animal in any way. Let’s kill your children, we’ll do it instantly and painlessly. Fool. There is no god, if there were, we wouldn’t have to eat at all. There would be no need to torture and kill animals for food, we wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom and this world wouldn’t be the most horrible place I can think of. Get a clue and grow some balls and admit they are right and stop rationalizing things for your own benefit.

  • Mark says:

    To be honest, If the animal feels no pain and is killed instantly, then it is a merciful and humane kill. Yes vegan meals make you “slimmer”, but another study has shown that those who eat meat tend to be physically stronger then vegetarians. I am a enthusiast for hunting, but I make sure that each shot painlessly kills instantly. It’s kinda funny to call anything related to animals “humane”. God put them on this Earth for our use. That’s how we have survived for generations and will for evermore. There is a difference between animal cruelty and human survival. Thank you.

  • k says:

    the only humane meat is if the animal dies of natural causes, and if you want to eat it then

  • Steve R. says:

    Thank you Ms. Newkirk. After decades of eating meat, I recently discovered the many alternatives to meat (Gardein being my favorite). Because of my heart condition and my weight, I stopped eating all meat and now enjoy “ribs”, “chicken”, “beef tips” and burgers that are animal-free and absolutely delicious. I feel much better. I’m now learning about how meat is produced and am horrified. Even better reason to go vegetarian. I’m now working towards eliminating all dairy and eggs from my diet, too. Thank you!

  • Elaine says:

    “Humane meat” is an oxymoron. Would it by okay for us to raise our children lovingly, in a spacious, abuse-free home, only to kill and eat them when they hit a certain age? Or how about keeping slaves–would it be okay as long as we don’t whip them to often? Any merciful person, regardless of their religion, will agree that we must show compassion for all beings, whether we like the taste of their flesh or not.

  • LucyP says:

    Thanks, Ingrid, for pointing out that there is no such thing as “humane” meat. We only need to ask ourselves, would we want to put ourselves—or our child—in a pig’s, cow’s, or chicken’s place? The answer is, no, of course—because no one wants to be killed. Being vegan is an easy way to live out the Golden Rule three times a day.

  • Fashion Fan says:

    Hope, I am a Christian and I firmly believe that God is saddened and horrified by the routine torture of animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses today. Furthermore, Jesus gave his life as the ultimate sacrifice so that we would no longer need to sacrifice animals, hence He is called the Lamb of God. And there are many scriptures that support that the belief that God values the non-violent vegetarian lifestyle. In the first chapter of Genesis, He tells Adam and Eve that He has given them all of these plants to eat from and calls His creation “good.” Isaiah 11 describes how the perfect kingdom of Heaven will be peaceful and vegetarian, and the lion will lie down with the Lamb. He also commands us, “none shall hurt or destroy another on all My holy mountain.” Killing animals for food is certainly hurting and destroying them. In closing, I think you should check out for more insight on how God instructs us not to eat animals, and I would suggest reading Heaven Is for Real, the true account of a boy who died and went to Heaven before being resuscitated. He described his experience, including meeting several animals in Heaven. So yes, animals have souls. And we shouldn’t eat anyone who has a soul.

  • Dennis Carlson says:

    Bravo! It’s mind-boggling to me to speak with so many people who vehemently claim their “love” for animals … then sit down and tuck into a meal made of cow, pig or chicken. The disconnect is deliberate, it must be. Because how does anyone who genuinely care about animals continue to eat them when there are so many delicious, cruelty-free alternatives?