One argument people offer in support of a plant-based diet is how questionable factory farming is. The reality is you should really be paying more than $8 a kilo for chicken breast. You can’t pay that little for animal protein without a serious sacrifice being made somewhere along the line – and that burden is shouldered by the animals.
According to Animals Australia, most farmed animals in Australia are factory farmed, and factory farming has serious negative ethical and environmental implications:
Factory farming is the number one cause of animal cruelty in the world today. It involves treating animals as if they were machines designed only to produce… The lived experience or quality of life of factory farmed animals is deemed to be of no consequence.
Factory farming is highly dependent on large quantities of limited resources such as grain-based feed, water, energy and medication. This type of food production is inherently unsustainable because of its negative impacts on animals, people and the planet.
Many experts also believe that factory farming produces an inherently inferior product (both nutritionally and taste-wise), and that if you are to consume meat, you should seek out more ethically farmed alternatives – grass-fed beef, free range eggs, etc.
However, American nutrition coach Max Lugavere offers an interesting perspective on factory farmed meat:
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Obviously, not consuming animal products entirely or only consuming sustainably farmed animal products is an ethically superior choice to factory farmed. But it’s not necessarily a nutritionally superior choice, and often a more expensive choice.
We’re talked before about the trap of ‘just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy’. Vegan junk food is still junk food, and Lugavere’s point is that it’s infinitely preferable to eat factory farmed meat over highly processed snacks – vegan or otherwise. He explains:
In a perfect world, we would all have access to the best meat with minimal animal suffering and footprint on the environment. But the world especially right now is far from perfect. And that’s important to acknowledge… Personally, I’d take grain-fed beef or grilled farmed salmon and a salad over a pizza, bowl of pasta, or pre-made burrito any day!
It’s the humanist angle. The ethics of factory farmed meat don’t impact its health benefits. What’s more important, your health or the health of a chicken? FYI we’re not taking a stance one way or the other. It’s just something worth considering before you load up your trolley.