How Can I Help?
- Support local farms
- Reject factory-farmed meat
- Eat fewer animal products – Try Meatless Mondays!
- Learn more about food labels
- Get Involved – Volunteer
- Contact your legislators
- Contact grocers and restaurants
- Talk to people about the issues
- Share information on social media
- Host screenings of documentaries like Food Inc., Cowspiracy, At the Fork, Eating Animals
Be a Part of the Solution - Volunteer with Crate Free Illinois
As an animal lover, you know that there’s really no difference between cruelty inflicted on a dog, cat, horse, chicken, or a pig. It’s all wrong. Below are some ways that you can help make the voice for farmed animals louder.
Volunteer With Us
Enjoy writing? Experience in marketing? Savvy with social media? Fundraising? Have a background in accounting?
Other Ways to Help
Understand Terms and Labels
Global Animal Partnership
Founded in 2008, Global Animal Partnership (GAP) is a non-profit organization made up of farmers, scientists, retailers, manufacturers, and animal advocates, all collaborating with a common purpose: improving farm animal welfare. GAP is making a difference by creating and managing a comprehensive 5-Step® Welfare Rating Program for farm animals, where farms & ranches are audited every 15 months by an independent third-party.
Seen by many as the ‘leader’ of animal welfare labels, products carrying this label have been rigorously identified by non-profit A Greener World (AGW) as adhering to very high standards of animal welfare which ensures animals are:
- • Raised on pasture or range
- • Requires animals to be raised on pasture or range
- • Prohibits dual production
- • Awards approval only to independent farmers
- • Charges no fees to participating farmers
Certified Humane Raised and Handled®
According to non-profit Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) ‘When you see the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label you can be assured that the food products have come from facilities that meet precise, objective standards for farm animal treatment. You can find Certified Humane® products in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, and Peru.’ These standards include:
- • The producer meets our Animal Care Standards and applies them to farm animals, from birth through slaughter.
- • Awards approval only to independent farmers.
- • Animals are never kept in cages, crates, or tie stalls. Animals must be free to do what comes naturally. For example, chickens must be able to flap their wings and dust bathe, and pigs must have space to move around and root.
- • Animals must be fed a diet of quality feed, without animal by-products, antibiotics or growth hormones.
- • Producers must comply with food safety and environmental regulations.
- • Processors must comply with the American Meat Institute Standards (AMI), a slaughter standard written by Dr. Temple Grandin, a member of HFAC’s Scientific Committee.
Products which are certified organic are seen as higher quality products which have been carefully vetted. However, it has little to do with animal welfare. According to Food and Water Watch it is ‘right now the most meaningful label on your food, in terms of upholding specific government requirements.’ For a product to be certified organic, it’s required to meet specific standards:
- • Organic crops cannot be grown with synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or sewage sludge
- • Organic crops cannot be genetically engineered or irradiated.
- • Animals must eat only organically grown feed (without animal byproducts) and can’t be treated with synthetic hormones or• antibiotics.
- • Animals must have access to the outdoors, and ruminants (hoofed animals, including cows) must have access to pasture.
- • Animals cannot be cloned.
***According to other sources, the certified organic label can be highly misleading in terms of how animals are treated. Although they have ‘access’ to outdoors and pasture as stated above, the term ‘access’ can be deceptive as it does not guarantee that an animal has been raised according to traditional farming methods and the main issue is that this ‘access’ is determined by the individual farmers. If your concern is about the welfare of the animal (rather than just the purity of the food it has been fed) this label is not your best guarantee.
Read the following articles for more information on what ‘certified organic’ really means.
This label ONLY really relates to the quality of the products rather than anything to do with welfare practices. As stated by the Food and Water Watch:
- ‘A USDA inspection seal means that your food meets certain quality standards and has been inspected by USDA employees or company employees under USDA supervision to rank its quality.
- All USDA-inspected meat and poultry (the vast majority of meat in grocery stores) should have a USDA seal of inspection. Meat and egg labels with a grade (such as USDA Grade A beef or Jumbo eggs) are graded based on quality and size, not production methods, so this tells you nothing about welfare.
- Private certification programs also exist, but they vary in standards, and it’s a good idea to do some research on their standards.’
Like pigs, the large majority of chickens are subject to abuse and cruelty, therefore it is essential to understand the difference between the mostly non-regulated labels on packaging and what it means for the animal.
The Humane Society article on ‘How to Decipher Egg Carton Labels’ explains the different welfare certifications and terms in detail and serves as a great reference point.
Remember lots of food products like mayonnaise, cakes, cookies and quiches contain eggs. Unless the ingredients say ‘free-range eggs’ or ‘pasture raised’ they are likely to be from caged hens.
- • Free space to roam (often crowded), but no access to sunlight
- • Allows beak cutting
- • Does not regulate feed
- • Does not regulate antibiotic use
- • Prohibits cages
- • Requires some access to outdoors (no living vegetation is required in the space)
- • Does not regulate feed
Pasture-Raised/Pastured (**Our pick)
- • Requires that hens get to hunt, peck and graze outdoors (on their natural diets)
- • Available at farmers market and some supermarkets
- • Not regulated or enforced
- • Pastured eggs have up to twice the amount of Omega-3s of factory-farmed eggs
Labels with NO RELEVANCE to animal welfare:
- • Vegetarian-fed
- • Natural
- • Farm Fresh
- • Fertile
- • Omega-3 enriched
- • Raised without Antibiotics
- • Pasteurized
- • Hormone-Free
(Source: Takepart – Understanding Egg Labels)
As the name of our organization suggests, this is a very important one for us at Crate Free Illinois! The crating of sows (female pigs) is a cruel, prevalent practice in which the mother pig spends the majority of her life in a tiny stall, on her side when pregnant and unable to even turn around. Not only are pigs denied the right to move around, but they but also their natural urge and desire to forage and socialize as they would naturally. Pigs are highly sociable and emotional animals which makes this even worse.
The good news is that about a dozen states in the USA have banned this outdated method and many mainstream organizations have agreed to end the use of this in their production chain. Let’s make Illinois and beyond Crate Free!
We successfully petitioned Trader Joe’s to do this last year.
Articles & info about crates and companies transitioning to crate free:
Source from local and humane farms
Factory farmers are eager to advertise their advancements in things like nutrition, technology, and livestock management. Yet most consumers agree: This is no substitute for humane animal stewardship.
Reference these lists of brands and companies who have high animal welfare standards.
- • ASPCA’s Shop with Your Heart Brand List
- • “Humaneitarian” Guide to Understanding Labels
- • Certified Humane’s “Shop” List
- • Download the Certified Humane Mobile App
- • Buying Poultry Buying Guide
- • A Greener World Certified Products List
- • Whole Foods Market – All chicken, beef, pork and turkey purchased ONLY at the meat counter adheres to Global Animal Partnership 5-step Animal Welfare Rating system.
Reduce Meat Consumption
Go Plant-Based or Cut Down Meat Intake
Reducing meat intake has been proven to:
- Positively impact personal health by reducing heart disease and stroke, minimizing cancer risk, fighting diabetes, combating obesity, and increasing longevity of life.
- Save household money, not only on the weekly grocery bill, but overall healthcare spending as well.
- Help save the planet, by minimizing water usage, reducing greenhouse gases, and reducing fossil fuel dependence. A vegetarian diet consumes 58% less water than a traditional omnivorous diet, while a vegan diet reduces indirect water consumption by 600 gallons per day per person.
- Create economic demand for more fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms, as well as meat alternatives at the marketplace.
- SAVE THE ANIMALS. If every American participated in meatless Mondays, 1.4 BILLION fewer animals would be raised and slaughtered for food in the US alone.
What are you waiting for!?
Make Meatless Monday part of your eating lifestyle
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing; by cutting back on how much meat you consume on a weekly basis, you can explore plant-based options and bring awareness to the exorbitant amount of meat we consume as a society. Meatless Monday is a global movement with a simple message: one day a week, cut the meat. The goal of this movement is to reduce meat consumption by 15% for our personal health and the health of the planet. Now entering its second decade, Meatless Monday is embraced in over 40 countries, in over 20 languages, demonstrating the universal appeal of an idea that is simple to understand and easy to do.
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