The hidden truth of meat, dairy and egg industry in the UK

cows“Vegucated”. Have you seen it yet? If not, you will be shocked or you should be shocked. Vegucated is an American documentary which tells a story about 3 people who decide to go vegan for 6 weeks. That means no meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and other products produced from animals for 6 weeks. In this time frame they also learn the truth behind the mass meat production and what animals have to go through before they end up on somebody’s plate. This documentary also reveals some cruel realities about dairy industry, but not only that; animal agriculture has a big impact on environment too and if you love nature and natural environments you should think twice before you eat meat again.

I watched Vegucated but I also did more research as you may think that in America everything is exaggerated right? I wanted to know the state of meat, dairy and egg industry in the UK and see what welfare standards there are currently in place to prevent animals from suffering. Here I summarise my findings and highlight some of the issues we currently face.

How healthy is meat today?

If you eat meat you should really know where it comes from, what animals eat and how they are treated before they are killed. Healthier animals mean healthier meat and healthier meat means healthier you, right?

However, eating too much red meat is not good for you anyway, everybody knows that (I hope). White meat is healthier as it’s supposed to have less fat but the quality of it depends very much on what birds eat, what conditions they live in and how active they are. Did you know that chicken meat today contains more than twice as much fat as it did back in 1940? (1) The reason for this is because chickens need to put on weight very quickly in a short period of time and they also live in crammed conditions and have little exercise. Free-range farming doesn’t always mean healthier chickens as space can still be an issue and some chickens still never go outside; also they still have to put on weight very quickly in a short period of time.

About a third of chicken fat is saturated fat which is bad for you and increases blood cholesterol levels. Organic chicken meat is not necessarily any healthier and faces the same issues.

Impact on environment

Are you a nature lover and concerned about the greenhouse effect? Did you know that animal agriculture produces greenhouse gasses which are contributing to climate change? In 2010 emissions of methane and nitrous oxide related to livestock worldwide represented approximately 9% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The largest emissions were from beef cattle followed by dairy cattle (2).

Animal welfare

The demand for meat today is enormous and increasing. Small farms had to turn into large scale operations to meet the demands of increasing world population. Have you ever thought about how animals are treated on these huge farms? And what conditions they live in? How does milk really end up in your fridge? The truth is sad and shocking and you should know it. Here are a few videos that will open your eyes.

Warning! The following is a very graphic video!

What can you do?

If you want to continue eating meat you can buy healthier, safer and more sustainable meat by buying direct from a local farm or a farmers’ market. Check Local Foods to help you find your local local farm or a farmers’ market. You can also go organic as organic systems provide high levels of animal welfare (5).

Also, look for Freedom Food logo on the packaging of the meat, fish and eggs you buy as you know the animals have been inspected to the RSPCA’s strict farm animal welfare standards. Freedom Food is the only UK assurance and food labelling scheme dedicated solely to improving farm animal welfare.

Sainsbury’s sells more Freedom Food labeled products than any other supermarket. (5)

Finally, you can give up meat altogether and don’t have to worry about any of the above. Wouldn’t that be easier?

Conclusion

The truth is: food production is hidden from public view for clear reasons but you have a choice. You can decide to reduce your meat and milk intake by using alternative options which there are plenty. If you want you can also turn a blind eye and continue your life as normal but I really hope this article made you think, think of your next meal, think of the animals and what they had to go through before they ended up on your plate.

I would like to end this with a quote from George Monbitot:

Rather than mindlessly consuming meat at every meal, we should think of it as an extraordinary gift: a privilege, not a right. We could reserve meat for a few special occasions, such as Christmas, and otherwise eat it no more than once a month. (3)

References

(1) http://www.viva.org.uk/what-we-do/killing-time/white-meat-and-your-health-%E2%80%93-what-you-need-know

(2) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1197-x

(3) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/16/perpetual-denial-food-meat-production-environmental-devastation

(4) http://www.localfoods.org.uk/home

(5) http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/05/where-buy-safer-healthier-more-sustainable-meat-chicken

 Do you eat meat and drink cow’s milk? Will you be reducing your meat and dairy intake after reading this article and watching the videos?

15 Comments

  1. This is a great article. I do eat meat although I don’t eat it too often. I try to be careful about what animal products I buy. Next time I buy it I shall certainly pay more attention and look for the ‘Freedom Food’ logo which I hadn’t heard of before.

    1. I am glad you liked the article Helen! It’s great to hear that you don’t eat meat too often and you are already careful about what animal products you buy. I didn’t know about Freedom Food logo until I did the research for this article and I will definitely mention it to people who meat meat in the future, if conversation goes that way of course.. 🙂 Thanks for the comment and I hope you can spread the word about this to other people who are not aware of this yet.

  2. This article is so true! I stopped eating meat in December – started out by cutting down a lot and at Christmas I gave it up completely! I wish more people could see this stuff, and believe it too! I know people like my parents don’t believe in it because they say it only happens on SOME farms etc not all (I keep getting told to phone my grandma’s sister who has her own farm… for some reason me saying that’s different to mass production doesn’t register – SO frustrating!!) Keep up the good work with the blog! Anna xo

    1. Well done on stopping eating meat! Many people are not aware of this stuff or they would rather turn a blind eye, but they should know how their meat ends up on their plate and then make a decision whether they still want to eat it or at least buy from those suppliers who have strict animal welfare guidelines in place. Smaller farms might be a bit different, but cows are still artificially inseminated and their calves are being taken away from them. I am finding it easy not to eat meat and drink cow’s milk. It’s just the cheese for salads and natural yoghurt which I don’t know whether I could give up, but at least I buy organic..
      Thanks for the comment Anna and I will definitely keep up the good work!

  3. A great post, lovely! I haven’t hidden the fact this documentary was one of the eye-openers that led to my going vegan. I often think of it, along with Gary Yurofsky’s Georgia Tech speech. I warn you, the latter has some truly graphic and horrid scenes. x

    1. To be honest, I watched this documentary not long after I read about it on your blog and it’s definitely raised a lot of questions for me. Now when I buy eggs and cheese I always check for Freedom Food logo. I don’t think I could stop eating eggs though as I don’t know what I would replace them with and cheese is quite similar for me although I don’t eat that much of it.
      I also watched Gary Yurofsky’s speech after this (somebody sent me a link on Twitter) and yes, there were some shocking, horrible scenes.

  4. Great article, I went vegan in January, a friend of mine has been trying to convince me that all the cruelty I’m against doesn’t happen on UK farms. So thanks I will be showing him this!

    1. I am glad you are finding the article useful Meg. Animal cruelty in the UK is real and this is one reason why I never buy meat these days and I only eat it on rare occasions (when offered).

  5. This seriously breaks my heart.
    I do not understand why these farms are allowed to continue like this.
    Pure greed. No respect for these animals in the slightest, all they care about is money. You can literally hear the animals crying out and see the fear in their faces. Why isn’t the UK government stopping this. This should never be accepted. It is inhumane and beyond brutal.

  6. I went vegan after watching a documentary on Netflix called what the health could not believe the condition the animals were being kept in that was last week I’ve had a few cravings but I pop the documentary back on and it completely puts me off again who would of thought life would be so cruel in this day of age

  7. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 30yrs and a vegan for the last 4yrs. I run a voluntary health and wellness club providing free interactive health discussions and vegan cookery demos. I watched Vegucated on Netflix which just confirmed what I already knew. We put more research into what university we will attend, what career we’ll have, and what home to buy and where, but never research where what we put in our mouths and the mouths of our children, and the long-term damage bad foods will do to us. Corporations don’t care about our health, it’s a fact. They only care about profit at the cost of human and animal lives, and of course this beautiful planet. We NEED to wake up and take ownership of our bodies. I’ve nothing against meat eaters at all, it’s a personal choice. I do have something against these corporations that are slowly killing us without our knowledge. If this were done on a personal level there would be an outcry and the culprit would be in prison, but the meat industry giants are allowed to get away with murder daily with risk of prosecution. Is this fair?

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