Factory farming in Europe is quite different from what it is in the United States. As long as 30 years ago, Europeans began questioning the concept of factory farming based both on science and ethics. For instance, the Swiss in 1981 banned battery cages; the Swedes in 1988; the Dutch in 1994.
In 1998, The Council of the European Union adopted a directive which set general rules for the protection of farmed animals. This directive incorporates the “five freedoms” of farmed animals:
- freedom to express normal behavior
- freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition
- freedom from discomfort
- freedom from pain, injury, and disease
- freedom from fear and distress
And, in 2009, European law began referring to animals as “sentient beings.” In addition, the welfare of the animals is to be a consideration in European Union lawmaking.
In the United States, however, large agricultural corporations are trying to ban undercover investigators who have found numerous egregious practices in factory farms; so egregious as to have charges of animal cruelty brought against livestock producers and slaughter house personnel. However, few states have anti-cruelty laws covering farmed animals, so many of our farmed animals are unprotected. Until consumers become aware of where their food comes from and how their food is treated while alive, changes to the United States’ way of treating farmed animals will come slowly.
When you think about it…we won the Revolutionary War centuries ago; yet our farmed animals are still facing daily battles. Go vegetarian/vegan and we all win.