It’s my personal choice to eat meat

No one wants to be told what to do. We get that.

In our civil society, we believe that people should be free to live their lives until their choices encroach on the freedom or well-being of someone else. For example, we are free to purchase a knife, but that doesn’t mean we are free to stab someone with it. We understand the boundaries here, and we respect them.

We understand that if our choices impact on others, then we are right to consider them carefully. And our food choices really do have a much wider impact than on our own health and waistlines. They impact other people, the environment and animals in a way that may not be immediately obvious.

To start with, slaughterhouse work has been linked to a variety of disorders including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and PITS (perpetration-induced traumatic stress). It has also been linked to higher crime rates, including  higher rates of domestic abuse, as well as alcohol and drug abuse.1 When we ask someone else to cut the throats of animals all day every day – a job we would be unwilling to do ourselves – we are placing an enormous burden on them. Society must question whether these outcomes are an acceptable price to pay for eating meat.

Our food choices affect other people, too. Because so much land is needed to produce meat, the vast majority of the world’s crops are fed to farmed animals. There are many reasons why millions of people go to bed hungry each night2 – including natural disasters, war and corruption – but one-third of the world’s cereal harvest3 and 70 percent of the world’s soy harvest4 is fed to farmed animals. If these crops were made available to people instead, we could eradicate world hunger today.

The creation of animal products is also a leading driver of climate change5 and deforestation6 – both of which affect the world’s poorest people disproportionately. And of course, it also drives species loss,7 which is a tragedy for all of us.

And what of the animals who spend their sad, short lives inside a cage or filthy barn, suffering perhaps on broken legs or grieving for the loss of their young? If our dogs or cats were treated that way, we would be outraged, and yet we try not to think about the animals who suffer unseen for our food.

What we eat is a personal choice but we would urge everyone to consider the wider impacts before deciding what foods to buy.

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