It’s likely you’re familiar with the term ‘humane meat’. You may have even used it yourself once or twice. Animal agriculture introduced it into the marketplace to soften the idea of buying and eating meat.But have you ever stopped to ask yourself whether the idea of humane meat is actually possible?

  • An unavoidable paradox*…

*a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory.

The fact that animal agriculture has had to invent a term to soften the idea of killing, suggests that something doesn’t sit well with the majority of people when it comes to the life and death of animals we breed to eat.

Google the definition of ‘humane’ and you are greeted with: Having or showing compassion or benevolence (benevolence meaning kindness/well meaning). But how can breeding an animal to kill be regarded as a kind or compassionate thing to do? This quote by Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary sums it up very clearly:

The very existence of labels like “free range,” “cage-free,” and “humane certified” attests to society’s growing concern for the welfare of animals raised for food. But any time consumers of meat, eggs or dairy advocate for “humane” treatment of farm animals, they confront an unavoidable paradox: the movement to treat farm animals better is based on the idea that it is wrong to subject them to unnecessary harm; yet, killing animals we have no need to eat constitutes the ultimate act of unnecessary harm.

  • Cutting life short…

Regardless of the conditions in which an animal is kept, one fact remains – if they are intended to be consumed as meat they will be killed when they have only lived a tiny fraction of their natural life span. Pigs, for example, are slaughtered at six to nine months old when they could live for 10-12 years.

  • Slaughtered on a production line…

Animals destined for ‘humane meat’ end up in the same abattoirs as animals from intensive farms, and are killed in the same way; as products, not beings, on a slaughter line. There is no regard for them as individuals, there is no care or consideration for their mental or physical state (apart from the fact that they must be dead within a set timeframe), and there is certainly no kindness or compassion. Contrast this with what we consider a humane death for our dogs and cats, our companion animals; ‘put to sleep’ by a vet, only when the animal is very old or terminally suffering, using anaesthetic to make it as pain free as possible, and with mum or dad at his or her side.

  • Unnecessary and without guarantee…

Killing an animal when he or she is still young and healthy isn’t usually considered a humane thing to do, and even less so when it’s unnecessary. And it is unnecessary, because we can live happy and healthy lives without eating animals or their by-products. To find out more about how please visit our Nutrition and Health sections.

Their quality of life isn’t guaranteed either – some ‘humane’ farms have been found to be in breach of their own guidelines. Hillside Animal Sanctuary, for example, has investigated farms that sign up to the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme and found terrible welfare standards.

  • The Last Pig…

In a pig farmer’s own words, an article about humane slaughter and the problem it presents:

What Humane Slaughterhouses Don’t Solve: The Last Pig Problem

  • Not wanting to die…

Animals, just like us, have a very real desire to live. Please click for video.

(Please note: there is no blood or gore featured in this footage.)