The UK prides itself on being an animal loving nation and is often cited as a country with some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. However, we still have much to improve on when it comes to farm animals and that’s why are calling on both the Government and local authorities to #MakeFoodKinder.
See our map where we have ranked local authorities on their performance to address animal welfare and climate change in their food procurement policy, and find out of your taxpayer money is funding the cruellest systems.
What’s wrong with factory farming?
Approximately 1.1 billion land animals are killed for food annually in the UK alone and a staggering 70% of these live on factory farms in cruel, cramped conditions.
Factory farms also destroy the planet – they give out copious amounts of greenhouse gases and can poison our lakes and rivers. In fact, animal agriculture produces more greenhouses gases than the entire transport sector. We must make factory farms a thing of the past for both the animals and ourselves.
Nearly 75%of all emerging human infectious diseases originate in animals and factory farms act as a large-scale zoonotic incubator for disease: thousands of animals crammed into tight, unsanitary spaces induces poor health and high-stress levels in animals, whilst providing the perfect conditions for viruses to emerge.
Is our taxpayer money paying for animal cruelty?
The UK spends around £2 billion on public procurement of food and catering services for public institutions such as schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons. However, these public sector menus may contain eggs from caged hens or imported chicken that falls below the UK’s minimum animal welfare standards. This means that school children or hospital patients may be served low welfare meat products, and we as UK citizens have no choice in the matter.
Our Make Food Kinder campaign is calling on local authorities to apply the 3 Rs principle and publish a transparent and effectively enforced food policy which guarantees meat reduction and specifies animal welfare.
What actions do we want to see from the Government?
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee released a report in April 2021 urging the Government to improve public sector food standards to support higher animal welfare standards. This report found that the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering (GBSF) was outdated, poorly enforced and riddled with loopholes. The Government buying standards must be urgently updated with the following recommendations:
Overhaul the GBSF to make them stronger on nutrition and animal welfare, and to make them reflect the UK’s net-zero emission targets
Make the GBSF mandatory across the public sector in England, including in schools, hospitals and local councils, which are currently only “encouraged” to comply
Remove the exemption from the GBSF which allows for lower animal welfare standards to be procured in the case of “significant increase in costs”.
Improve the monitoring and enforcement of compliance with the GBSF, using existing inspection bodies such as Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, or where these bodies don’t exist, monitoring via annual surveys to be published by EFRA.
The Government needs to acknowledge the catastrophic impacts that animal agriculture has on climate change, and promote plant-based eating in line with their net-zero commitments as well as introduce better keeping standards like eliminating the use of farrowing crates or enriched poultry cages.
The Government must also clearly set out how it will ensure farm standards are safeguarded when it comes to trade deals with other countries such as Australia, USA, or India, that generally have a much lower standard of welfare for their farmed animals than the UK. We should not be making trade agreements that allow the importation of meat or other animal products that are produced with lower animal welfare standards than those required by UK law, and undercut our British farmers that have prioritised animal welfare.
How can you help?
Our meat reduction pledge needs signatures. By signing, you pledge to #LiveKinder by reducing, or eliminating entirely, your consumption of animal products in order to help protect animals, the planet and our health. For tips on some easy plant-based swaps, check out our Plant Based Challenge.
Our petition to ensure local authorities commit to fewer animal products, more plant-based options and higher welfare standards is still open. Please sign today to ensure your local authority will #MakeFoodKinder.
Our Government petition to end factory farming and promote meat reduction achieved a whopping 37,253 signatures – a huge thank you to everyone that signed.
We are part of the Eating Better Alliance, which aims to have a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption in the UK by 2030, and for a transition into higher welfare meat and dairy as standard.