Social-environmental impacts of meat eating

Livestock play a hugely important role in maintaining the delicate balance of farming including controlling weeds and pests, promoting biodiversity, and improving soil fertility. While some would argue that refraining from meat eating all together is the only way to address the growing list of concerns associated with industrial livestock production, rethinking the way we consume meat does not mean we have to stop raising and consuming livestock all together, we just need to do it in a socially responsible manner.

Supporting small and medium scale livestock production with decentralized processing facilities that serve local markets is one way to build a new vision of livestock agriculture. Coupled with a shift in our dietary habits, we can begin to see how to change the food system for the better. There is a growing movement of socially responsible livestock production in Canada that includes:

  • Organic agriculture : based on the principles of health, ecology, fairness, and care, and certified according to strict standards. No genetically modified organisms , synthetic chemicals or drugs (such as antibiotics and hormones) are used.

  • Farmers using Holistic Management develop strategies to ensure that grazing, land management, and financial decisions result in healthy and productive land and a positive quality of life.

  • Humane certification ensures animals have been raised according to strict humane standards. Labels such as SPCA Humane Certified are recognized by animal welfare experts.

  • Pasture-raised livestock are not confined inside factory farms or feedlots. Raising animals on pasture provides them with the diet they need and allows them to behave naturally.

An Animal's Place tells how eating a non-meat diet risks further industrializing our food system, and how focusing on a balanced diet of locally produced meats, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products is better all around.

Read the Think Eat Act brochure for a discussion of conscientious eating and to meet three Canadians dedicated to eating well.

For a more in depth discussion of environmental impacts of livestock agriculture, see our Environment section

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