Most consumers believe “free-range” hens and cows live happily and peacefully until they are slaughtered. But no laws or standards regulate the use of terms like “free-range” and “free-roaming.” Unfortunately, even these vague claims are rarely verified; the USDA relies “upon producer testimonials to support the accuracy of these claims,” which are usually unsubstantiated. In fact, common cruel industry practices used in factory farms, such as debeaking, forced molting, and literally throwing away male chicks at birth, also take place at many “free-range” farms. Of course all the animals are slaughtered whenever it is deemed most profitable. According to The Washington Post Magazine, the term “free-range,” especially in the case of birds, “doesn’t really tell you anything about the [animal’s] quality of life, nor does it even assure that the animal actually goes outdoors.” From the “free-range” hen who smells fresh air for the first time on the way to the slaughterhouse to the “humanely raised” dairy cow whose male baby is taken away from her at birth and sold to veal farmers, all animals raised for food suffer and are exploited. Even small, family-run dairy farms often have no choice but to send their older cows to slaughter and their newborn males to veal farms. For these reasons, we believe the only humane option is to refrain from eating eggs, milk, and meat. It’s better for your health, the environment, and the animals, and it’s far easier to do than you may think!
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