Responsibly managing agriculture is one of the best ways to protect the environment. After all, half of the planet’s habitable land is used to produce resource intensive food like beef and dairy. As consumers, there are tons of simple and creative ways to mitigate the ecological cost of our food. For instance, embracing a plant-based diet that is in tune with the seasons can significantly reduce pollution and preserve valuable natural resources. That being said, another important step towards a sustainable food system is animal welfare. Farm animals like chickens and cows are often raised in cramped industrial spaces that cause intense stress in favour of efficiency. In factory farms, these vulnerable creatures spend their entire lives in gruesome conditions with no room to extend their limbs. On the other hand, when allowed to graze and roam outside of cages, animals live far healthier and happier lives. Grazing allows cattle and other ruminants to naturally extract nutrients from plants. Outside of cages, hens can meet essential behavioural needs such as exploring, sleeping, dustbathing and stretching. Furthermore, these farms can actually regenerate their soil by allowing manure to naturally replenish the nutrients required to feed livestock. Caged farming disconnects this sustainable production loop, causing excessive waste and unnecessary cruelty to animals.  

Recognizing the value of strong animal welfare policy, the European Union (EU) recently secured an amazing victory for our friends on the farm. Last October, on World Day for Farmed Animals, the European Commission received the ‘End The Cage Age’ European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). Signed by 1.4 million people, the campaign demands that the EU put an end to the use of cages in the farming of hens, rabbits, pigs, quails and many other species. This overwhelming show of support exceeded its signature goal by nearly 50% and represents the 1st successful ECI on farmed animal welfare. According to Olga Kikou of Compassion in World Farming, substantive legislation to phase out the use of cages is soon to follow!  

Despite efforts to phase out battery cages, Canada still ranks low on the Global Animal Protection Index. That being said, a recent national poll suggests that 73% of Canadians want stronger animal protection laws. You can help make Canada a safer place for animals today by supporting bans on factory farms and hazardous poisons

Beyond abolishing cages, animal protection also includes providing these wonderful creatures with good lives. While preventing negative experiences is essential, modern animal welfare frameworks also seek positive emotional outcomes and the expression of natural behaviours. A life in a cage is no life at all. But animals also need positive experiences like comfort and pleasure (just like any other being). When they receive this, meals are more nutritious and more sustainable. GentleWays for OurPlanet is committed to eliminating factory farms by 2030 and restoring ecological balance to the Earth. You can learn more today about protecting animals on our food solutions page, and join us in rebuilding our connection with nature! 

By: Teke Rerri, GentleWays Champion