If we didn’t farm animals, they wouldn’t exist

Farmed breeds are not natural. They were specifically bred by people to have certain physical traits, such as large muscles or high milk yields, but these money-making traits also cause a lot of suffering.

Commercial breeds of turkeys and broiler chickens, for example, are bred to put on a lot of weight as quickly as possible and as a result their joints are painful, their hearts are weak and they are prone to bone breakages. It is right that these poor creatures are not bred to suffer this way. But that wouldn’t be the end of poultry. There are still wild species of fowl living freely.

Dairy cows have been genetically bred to have a high milk yields but this means they suffer from increased leg and metabolic problems. On farms, they are repeatedly impregnated and suffer the emotional toll of having their calves taken away from them. By the time they are six, most are considered ‘spent’ – they are lame, exhausted or have become infertile – and so they are sent to the slaughterhouse. It is right that these poor creatures no longer exist purely to suffer. Besides, there are wild bovines including bison and buffalo and so bovines will not become extinct.

And this is the same for all other farmed species – ducks, geese, boar and sheep. If the world was vegan, we would not be breeding them in their billions just so they could suffer and die, but their natural wild cousins will continue to live freely. And if we all switched to a plant-based diet, there would be a lot more land available for habitats for these and other wild animals, so they would flourish.

And even if we stopped eating farmed animals altogether, some would remain on sanctuaries, and it is unlikely any would become entirely extinct. After all, we don’t eat dogs and cats, and there are still plenty of those in loving homes.

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