There are lots of ways to help barnyard friends, whether you eat them or not. All farm animals do have legal rights, obviously not enough. If you eat meat, then choose free-range organic versions for better welfare (most hock burns on factory-farmed meat cut away, so consumers don’t know). Free-range organic chicken costs more, so just eat less. Labels like Red Tractor have little welfare clout.
- All barnyard friends have legal rights. Report concerns to RSPCA (can be anonymous).
- Support farm sanctuaries rather than visiting zoos or ‘wildlife parks’. These are places where animals are rescued from horrible conditions, to live out their lives in peace.
- Buy tees, hoodies & beanies from clothing brands that help animals. These companies use profits to help animal charities.
- If you are Muslim or Jewish, you can still be vegan or vegetarian. Read up on plant-based Middle Eastern recipes and plant-based Jewish recipes.
- Use plant-based gravy mixes (with no palm oil).
Better lives for barnyard friends is something that everyone wants, not matter what your diet. See the barnyard friends tag for species-specific info (to help animal fans, people who eat and farmers). Although we have some of the better animal welfare laws on earth, farm animals are exempt from many of the Five Freedoms given to other species, as they are classed as less sentient beings (this also applies to crustaceans and octopuses). If you see a farm animal in distress, you can report it to the RSPCA, Animal Crimewatch or Crimestoppers (anonymous, if wished).
- Eating plants is obviously best. But if you are not ready for that, there are other ways to help. Only buy free-range organic foods if you eat animal items – more expensive, so just eat less. You can volunteer at a local farm sanctuary or even adopt some ex-battery hens, if it suits your circumstances.
- Compassion in World Farming is a charity set up by a concerned dairy farmer, and has already banned gestation crates (and fur farms in the UK). This site has a wealth of free information including checklists on what to look for, to ensure that eggs and meat etc really are more ethically produced. Most battery eggs are in processed mayo, cakes, biscuits & quiche.
- Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary is run on a shoestring by a woman who works as a firefighter in any spare time, to raise funds.
- Happy Animals is a fun & friendly book where children meet 6 barnyard friends, seeing them as sentient creatures.
- Unity Diner (4 min from Aldgate East, 8 min from Liverpool Street) uses profits from vegan food to help a sanctuary.
This is Vegan Propaganda is a controversial but interesting book on some of the lies that the big meat industry tell the general public, as plant-based eating becomes more widestream. Our choices can help alleviate the most pressing issues we face today: the climate crisis, infectious and chronic disease, human exploitation and animal exploitation. These issues are of course uncomfortable to deal with, but the benefits of doing so cannot be overstated, it is literally a matter of life and death.
Through exploring the major ways that our current system of animal farming affects the world around us, as well as the cultural and psychological factors that drive our behaviours, this book answers the pressing question – is there a better way?
Whether you are a vegan already or are curious to learn more, this book will show you the other side of the story that has been hidden for too long. Based on years of research and conversations with slaughterhouse workers and farmers to animal welfare philosophers, environmentalists and everyday consumers, Ed Winters gives you the knowledge to understand the true scale and enormity of the issues at stake. This is an empowering and groundbreaking book that everyone needs to read.
Ed Winters is a once-in-a-generation modern-day Peter Singer and advocate for our moment. He makes the bulletproof case for the vegan lifestyle. It’s a must-read for a world living out of sync with our innate humanity. Rich Roll
Such is the effectiveness of his advocacy that I knew about Ed long before reading his book. In plain-spoken language aimed at persuading and not condemning, Ed outlines the abhorrent practices of industrial animal agriculture and what can and must be done to address it. Jonathan Balcombe
Ed has used his vast knowledge regarding meat and dairy production to create a must-read book for everyone. His arguments are compelling and grounded in facts and logic. He shows us that there is a far better way of feeding the planet. An eye-opening book of our time. Moby
Ed Winters (aka ‘Earthling Ed’) used to live on animal-based junk food, until he realised what he was eating. After co-founding London’s Unity Diner, he used the profits to set up Surge Sanctuary in England, which is fast becoming the UK’s version of Farm Sanctuary. He is widely known for his viral content online and has given speeches at over a third of UK universities and at Ivy League colleges, including as a guest lecturer at Harvard University.
Most farmers care for their animals well, and this is not an argument on those who are vegan, vegetarian or omnivores. Most people eat meat. So the more we help small farmers, the less factory farming there is. However, many small farmers live on a pittance and many commit suicide. And lack of money means less welfare for animals. See how to help our small farmers and how to stop TB in badgers and cattle.
If concerned about any sheep or barnyard creature, report to RSPCA (this can be anonymous).
- Footrot is often prevented with clean transport, foot-trimming and quarantining new flocks for 30 days. Purdue University & Homeopathy at Wellie Level have good info. Sheepeasy (hammock) makes sheep/goat footcare quick and more comfortable.
- If you are a dairy farmer, take inspiration from no-slaughter brands like Ahimsa that allow calves to stay with their mums. However, there are so few of these companies, that there is not enough of this type of milk to feed the amount of people who drink it.
- See wildlife-friendly fencing alternatives. Although electric fences have low currents, one child died in 1991 after the child’s head touched the wire, after playing on wet grass. So don’t let pets play nearby either (due to their heads being the same height, like sheep dogs) or when it’s raining. You can buy a device to know if a mammal is trapped, which turns off the voltage, until the animal is free. Dry stone walling can keep sheep safe: Conservation Volunteers can build these for you or download Dry Stone Walling to build/repair walls yourself. Check that dry stone walls don’t grow the weed ragwort. Although home to a native caterpillar, it’s lethal to livestock and equines, and must be removed and disposed of, to DEFRA laws). World Horse Welfare has tips on prevention and dealing with it. You can remove ragwort in 4 easy steps with a ragfork (in bright colours, to see in the field).
- Rescued sheep need a lot of specialised care. They can live with goats but food is different (copper given to goats can harm sheep. And goats tend to head-b
- Don’t practice ‘migratory beekeeping’. This is when bees starve after the harvest. It’s more prevalent in industrial farming practices.
- Re’farmd is a wonderful new project. Rather than vegans having a go at dairy farmers, they are supporting dairy farmers who are making the leap. They are supporting farmers who are turning their farms into animal sanctuaries, then having them earn income by making and delivering oat milk, to keep family farms going. Get in touch if you’re an interested farmer, already delivering in the Midlands.
- One business in Wales makes ‘sheep poo paper’. It takes sheep poo and sterilises it, then mixes it with recycled paper to create a business from sheep, without harming them. Valentine cards are ‘I love Ewe’ or they also sell Birthday Bleatings cards!
- Vegans don’t wear wool, due to some breeds having ‘mulesling’ (chunks of skin cut away without painkillers to remove flystrike) and older sheep being killed, when their wool is of no use. Take inspiration from vegetarian wool companies that let sheep live out their natural lives. There is also a company that sells sheepskins that don’t harm sheep.
Sivalingam Vasanthakumar had been a sheep farmer for 47 years, since a child. Born in Sri Lanka, he was driving a flock of sheep to the abattoir, and had a change of heart. He instead drove them 200 miles from Devon to a Worcestershire sanctuary and went vegetarian. No ‘hippy’, he had butchered animals, but said he couldn’t take it anymore: pushing animals out of the trailer, where they were hiding (knowing their fate). He now lets cattle graze his land, and grows vegetables instead.
Farm Sanctuary (US) rescues abused animals. It began when a lamb was thrown on a stockpile of dead animals, covered in flies and maggots. The sheep was discovered collapsed in a stockyard, and rescued – 20 minutes later, she was eating and drinking. Hilda’s rescue started one of the world’s prominent farm welfare movements, and passed away peacefully in her sleep from old age, 11 years later. She is buried in the beautiful garden grove on the farm sanctuaries, her wonderful legacy imprinted forever.
Trusting the Labels?
One thing it’s important to note that many promote that their meat is Red Tractor certified. This is not a welfare standard, simply that it conforms to the law and is legal. Farms not Factories reports that under this label, mother pigs can legally be kept in steel cages that are too narrow for them to turn around for five weeks at a time during each pregnancy (2.5 months a year). Compassion in World Farming has a useful ‘know your labels’ page, and Red Tractor is not one they endorse. It also does not go beyond minimum standards for the welfare of cows. The same applies for ‘British Lion Mark’ standard eggs. Look instead for free-range or certified organic.
RSPCA Assured has some welfare standards, but not enough and reports are often coming out of animals being abused under this label, which hopefully cannot happen with certified organic. Free-range means nothing in law unless this is applied, but many smaller companies that are free-range cannot afford certification, although small farmers and traders can use the much cheaper Wholesome Food Association label that works on a trust basis, and costs just £30 a year with an annual surprise audit.
We want to respect religious beliefs, but Compassion in World Farming believes there should be no exemptions, as animals are not stunned in line with scientific welfare advice. The recipe blogger at One Arab Vegan is a strict Muslim, so simply does not eat meat. There are plenty of plant-based recipe books: Vegan Recipes from the Middle East, Tahini & Turmeric and Oy Vey Vegan! for Jewish families. Most supermarkets don’t clearly label non-stunned meat so if you eat stunned meat, you may wish to buy from a local free-range butcher. Animals in factory farms suffer terribly while alive, so to make a difference, change what you buy.