Impact on Animals
We've reduced many of the mammals and birds on earth to human commodities. Non-human animals are sentient creatures with complex mental and emotional processes who experience suffering despite our treating them like objects. Consider the following as products of unconscious consumption…
The U.S. slaughters over nine billion land animals annually (chickens, pigs, cows) for food. Of those animals, 99 percent are raised in factory farms leading lives of fear and suffering. Meanwhile, the average U.S. citizen over consumes calories and protein and wastes almost 50% of food.
More than 300 million hens are used in annual U.S. egg production, and most live in cages where they are unable to move. For dairy production in the U.S. alone, nine million cows endure artificial insemination, calf separation, and mastitis udder infections. Most of the animals used for eggs and dairy are killed for other consumer products when they are no longer considered productive.
The U.S. alone kills 4,756,997 tons of fish for food annually. This number would likely double if it included by-catch, animals caught and killed unintentionally and never consumed. Contrary to cultural beliefs, many sea animals can feel pain and fear; they also play an important role in balancing the ocean’s ecosystem.
In the U.S., four million animals are trapped for fur annually. This number does not include animals farmed for fur, which would add another four million just in farmed mink. We do not require animal fur to keep us warm or look stylish, and yet the practice continues.
The U.S. reported use of 767,622 animals for research in 2015. If this number included mice, rats, and birds, it’s estimated the count would be closer to 100 million. Animals in testing endure shocking, burning, poisoning, and other traumas—often to the point of death—when we have alternative options for testing products.
In the rainforest we clear to grow livestock feed, in the oceans we fish to depletion, and in all the natural areas we push into to build more factories, stores, and landfills for our goods, we push out and kill non-human animals.
Doing the least harm
And, ideally, the most good
We're all animals here, and isn't death a natural part of life? Don't lions eat zebras? Yes, but nature has never seen a mass genocide at the hand of one species like what humans have done with modern agriculture.
It's a fairy tale to think we can eliminate all animal suffering at human hands. By merely existing, we cause habitat destruction and accidental deaths. However, we have many viable alternatives to animal foods, product testing, and clothing materials.
For ways to reduce the amount of animal suffering required to make products, head to the consumer solutions page.
Now consider this...
With the very purchases we make that cause animal suffering, we may be trying to fill a void left by our disconnection from other beings and our innate desire to coexist with them more harmoniously. What irony.
If you find joy in connecting with house pets, farm animals, or animals in nature, think about how you might extend this experience of connection and compassion to even more animals to find joy.
To think deeply about how our consumer culture has normalized certain forms of animal cruelty, check out the cultural context page.
Sources and inspirations
“Farmed Animal Fundamentals." Faunalytics, https://faunalytics.org/fundamentals-farmed-animals/, Accessed 30 Oct. 2022.
“Global Animal Slaughter Statistics & Charts: 2020 Update." Faunalytics, https://faunalytics.org/global-animal-slaughter-statistics-and-charts-2020-update/, Published July 29, 2020.
“Animal Advocacy By Numbers." Faunalytics, https://faunalytics.org/animal-advocacy-by-numbers/, Published July 15, 2016.