By Alison Longley, Campaigns Manager
While Farm Sanctuary’s work to protect farm animals from cruelty is mainly focused on targeting abuses in North America, the intense suffering of animals used for food production knows no national bounds. A recent case in point is Korea’s shocking response to an outbreak of “hoof and mouth disease,” a condition that can affect industry profits but poses no threat to human health. Instead of making an effort to treat the ailing animals with compassion, Korean authorities have reportedly killed 4 million by burying them alive.
As rapidly industrializing countries gain wealth and per capita income rises, the consumption of meat, milk and eggs increases dramatically. And as animal product consumption rises, farm animal suffering becomes further entrenched in our global community. Between 1961 and 2002, the rate of meat consumption tripled in Brazil and increased twelve-fold in China. In order to keep up with this demand, factory farming continues to spread throughout the world.
The number of farm animals slaughtered in the U.S. may finally be plateauing at a still devastating rate of about 9 billion animals per year, but more than 60 billion farm animals are killed for food across the globe. This number is also increasing rapidly, with some experts projecting that it could double in the next 40 years. Nine billion, 60 billion, 120 billion … the suffering endured by each individual animal is nearly unfathomable.
Though tragedies like the one in Korea stand out as reminders of the many consequences of factory farming, the routine cruelties inherent to farm animal production in North America, and around the world, are appalling too. When you witness the sheer joy of a farm animal getting a second chance at the life he deserves – like Riley, a sickly piglet Farm Sanctuary recently rescued from a stockyard and brought to health – it’s hard to imagine how such sensitive, intelligent and social creatures can be so easily disregarded.
But there is hope. We can stop factory farming abuses by making compassionate food choices and educating others in our communities about the reality beneath industry’s heavy veil of deceit. Every time we open our mouths, our decisions to eschew animal products or speak out against cruelty reach further than we sometimes realize. Together, we can keep chipping away at those overwhelming worldwide statistics and create real change.