Factory farming is a method of raising animals for food that causes enormous suffering for the animals, as well as being bad for human health. It is a common practice in modern industrial agriculture, which has led to it becoming a dominant way of raising farm animals.
Factory farming is where animals are kept in confined conditions to produce meat, milk, eggs, or other products. These operations have been slow to change and they’re often the default option for raising animals.
The negative effects of factory farming are well-documented, including antibiotic resistance and unhealthy living conditions for the animals. However, it’s not all bad news—there are ways to make factory farming better for human health as well as animal welfare. Let’s look at why it’s so bad and how we can make it better.
What is factory farming?
Factory farming involves raising animals in confined settings where they don’t have access to the environment they were meant to live in. They may be kept in cages where they can’t move around, or in pens where they can’t even turn around.
Animals raised in these conditions often develop poor health and stress—they may not be able to move around, they may be in a small space, and they may be exposed to harmful chemicals.
Almost 90% of the world’s farmed animals are raised this way. Pigs, poultry, cattle, sheep, and goats are all raised in factory farms where they are kept in crowded, unnatural conditions.
Factory farming is extremely inhumane
Farm animals raised for food are different from wild animals like lions, tigers, and bears. Wild animals have to deal with the elements of nature, including the threat of predators and natural disease. Humans have bred farm animals to be unnaturally large.
Cows, for example, are often bred to produce milk at 5–10 times their natural production. They are often kept in crowded conditions so that they will produce milk for humans; a thousand or more female cattle are commonly kept in just one small building or pasture.
This unnatural breeding process has led to health problems and even deaths. For example, cows are sometimes bred to produce a lot of milk, but they’re not properly fed or milked, so their bodies can’t handle the high intake of milk, and they die of “Udder Failure.”
Pigs are sometimes bred to be very large and fat, but they can’t move around very well, so they develop health problems like bone disorders and muscle disorders.
Why is factory farming so bad for human health?
Animal products are often high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, which may pose health risks for humans. For example, consuming too much saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Factory-farmed eggs are often high in cholesterol and saturated fat, and the meat is often high in sodium.
Industry standards for raising animals frequently involve the use of antibiotics and other drugs, which can cause antibiotic resistance in humans and lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Farm animals are often kept in cages or pens
Cattle, sheep, and pigs are often kept in cages or pens where they can’t turn around or move around freely. Pigs may be kept in crates where they can’t turn around, walk, or reach their food or water. Cows are often kept in small, crowded spaces and fed a diet high in grain and sugar, which can result in digestive disorders, disease, and obesity.
Positive change can come from small steps in the right direction
It’s not always possible to make huge changes in the way that you eat, but taking small steps can have a big impact. Try to only buy organic food, for example, or avoid foods that come from factory farms. You may also want to speak to your friends about the importance of eating healthily.
If you’re in a position to do so, research food production companies and try to choose companies that follow best practices for animal welfare and human health.
What you can do to help animals and humans
If you want to help improve the lives of farm animals and reduce your risk of some health problems, try to only buy food that’s not raised on a farm. You can also support organizations that promote food safety and help reduce antibiotic use.
If you want to help improve human health, try to eat less meat, eggs, and dairy products, and choose plant-based proteins instead. Try to only eat meat that comes from animals that have been feed a vegetarian diet. You can also try to walk or bike to work instead of driving; this can help to reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease or Type 2 diabetes.
Create healthy environments at home, in your community, and at work; for example, you can try to increase accessibility for walking and biking, or try to create healthier environments for eating and working. You can also try to get the most from your health insurance plan.
Despite the problems associated with factory farming, it’s not all bad news. There are ways to make factory farming better for human health as well as animal welfare. If you want to help improve the lives of farm animals and reduce your risk of some health problems, try to only buy food that’s not raised on a farm.