Animals used for Consumption



In India, a large number of farmed land animals and fish are slaughtered for food each year. Many of these animals live in inhumane conditions and are slaughtered using painful methods. Although most consider animal lives less relevant or important when compared to human life, it is impossible to ignore the scale and intensity of the suffering of these animals.

Although the situation may seem dire, there is hope. In recent years, there has been significant progress in the animal welfare movement in India. Many large companies have pledged to significantly reduce or even eliminate their most harmful practices. Governments have also banned certain practices. Companies working on developing alternative protein sources, such as plant-based meats or laboratory grown meats, have received significant investments from investors. However, animal welfare in farming remains largely neglected, with only a small percentage of philanthropic funding in India going towards this cause. The welfare of chickens, fish, goats and other animals in Asia is particularly important and underfunded.



The scale of animal slaughter for food is staggering, with over 75 billion farmed land animals and more than a trillion fish being killed each year. This equates to more than 2000 land animals and 25,000 fish being killed every second of every day. The total number of animals killed each year is ten times the current global human population and almost as large as the total number of people who have ever lived.

The farming industry has been able to reach such a large scale due to intensification driven by technological advancements and industry concentration. New tools and practices have allowed farmers to automate processes and expand confinement systems that keep animals indoors, leading to fewer but larger farms. These trends have helped to reduce production costs and increase the number of animals being raised. At the same time, demand for meat has grown due to rising global incomes, leading to a 400% increase in global meat production since 1961.

In India, the following animals are bred for consumption:

Below info graphic depicts the stats regarding annual animal consumption in India.
Animals used for Consumption



Most farmed chicken and fish in India are raised in intensive farming systems, which often have negative impacts on their welfare. Fish in particular may suffer from high stocking densities and polluted water, leading to oxygen deprivation and other health issues. The majority of fish are also not protected by regulations requiring humane slaughter methods, meaning that most likely suffer a prolonged and painful death by suffocation. Chickens, both meat chickens and egg-laying hens, also face significant welfare issues in intensive farming systems. Meat chickens are trait selected to grow as quickly as possible, leading to organ failure, abnormal skeletal development, and inactivity, as well as being kept in crowded and unhealthy conditions. Egg-laying hens are usually kept in small battery cages for their entire lives, preventing them from engaging in natural behaviors and causing significant distress. Other farm animals such as pigs, cows, and sheep may also experience negative impacts from intensive farming, including mutilation, confinement, and social isolation.

Here is a more detailed summary of the welfare issues faced by different farm animals in intensive farming systems:


  • High stocking densities and polluted water in fish farms can lead to oxygen deprivation and negative health effects, including diseases and parasites.
  • Most fish are not protected by regulations requiring humane slaughter methods, meaning that they are likely to suffer a prolonged and painful death by suffocation.
  • There are also concerns about the environmental impacts of fish farming, including the use of antibiotics and pesticides, and the spread of diseases and parasites to wild fish populations.

  • Meat chickens are trait selected through selective breeding to grow as quickly as possible, leading to a range of welfare issues including:
  • Organ failure due to accelerated growth, with estimates suggesting that between 0.1% and 3% of meat chickens in Europe die of a heart condition called Sudden Death Syndrome before reaching slaughter weight.
  • Abnormal skeletal development causing lameness in some chickens, with around 1% of meat chickens dying from leg deformities.
  • Inactivity, with a study of more than 7500 meat chickens from 16 different sub-species finding that faster-growing birds were more inactive, possibly reflecting an inability to move or causing health issues such as skin conditions and foot lesions.
  • Crowded and unhealthy conditions, with meat chickens often kept in large and dense flocks that can lead to cannibalism. To prevent this, it is common to remove part of the chicken’s beak early in life.
  • Egg-laying hens are usually kept in individual enclosures called battery cages for almost their entire lives, measuring around 500 cm2 (smaller than a piece of A4 paper), which is not even enough to fully open their wings. These cages prevent hens from moving around and engaging in natural behaviors such as rooting, preening, and socializing, causing significant distress.
  • Both meat chickens and egg-laying hens may also be subjected to mutilation procedures such as toe trimming and wing clipping to prevent injuries.

  • Intensive pork farms are often crowded, leading to biting and injuries that require mutilation procedures such as teeth grinding, tail cutting, and castration to reduce aggression.
  • Pigs may also be confined and socially isolated in intensive farming systems.
  • Intensive pork farms are often crowded, leading to biting and injuries that require mutilation procedures such as teeth grinding, tail cutting, and castration to reduce aggression.
  • Pigs may also be confined and socially isolated in intensive farming systems.

Dairy animals (cows and buffalo)

  • Mutilation procedures: Dairy animals such as cows and buffalo may be subjected to mutilation procedures such as dehorning, disbudding, and castration to prevent injuries and improve handling. These procedures can be painful and may cause long-term distress.
  • Confinement and social isolation: Dairy may be confined to small stalls or pens, preventing them from engaging in natural behaviors such as grazing and socializing. This can cause physical and mental suffering.
  • Poor living conditions: Intensive farming systems may fail to provide dairy animalswith adequate space, bedding, or ventilation, leading to discomfort and health issues.
  • Stressful handling and transportation: Dairy animalsmay experience stress and fear during handling and transportation, which can have negative impacts on their welfare.
  • Poor nutrition: Intensive farming systems may not provide dairy animals with a diet that meets their nutritional needs, leading to health problems and reduced welfare.

Neglected area

Farmed animal welfare in India has historically been neglected relative to the size of the problem. Even though there is not much data available for India, we can extroplulate from the US. With only 0.03% of total US philanthropic funding going towards farm animal causes in 2017 Within the animal welfare sector, farm animals have received a particularly small share of funding, with animal shelters receiving 66% of funding despite the fact that 3000 farm animals die for every one shelter animal death.


Other effects of intensive animal agriculture

Intensive animal agriculture has a number of negative impacts on human health and the environment.

In terms of human health, the use of antibiotics in intensive animal agriculture poses a major risk. Nearly 70% of antibiotics vital for fighting infections in humans are sold for use in meat and dairy production to treat infections that arise due to unhygienic and overcrowded establishments where these animals are housed. These antibiotics are not regulated in the livestock sector and ultimately affect humans who consume these animals. Consuming the meat and other products derived from these animals increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance, which means that pathogenic microorganisms that enter the body and come in contact with the drug residues flowing through the body become immune to them and no longer respond to these drugs when they are administered to the person when they fall sick.

In addition, animal meat and products have been associated with an increased risk of lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes, fertility issues, and various types of cancers. There is also evidence to suggest that animal agriculture may contribute to ageing-related diseases like Parkinson’s.

Slaughterhouse workers are also negatively impacted by intensive animal agriculture. These workers are predominantly from low-income communities and face an increased risk of diseases due to the exposure to a wide range of biological contaminants, like bacteria and fungi, as well as respiratory disorders due to the fumes and debris in the air. Studies have also shown that slaughterhouse workers may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to perpetration-induced traumatic stress, which can lead to incidents of antisocial behavior including violence and sexual offenses. Slaughterhouse facilities also frequently employ child labor, bonded labor, and human trafficking.

Intensive animal agriculture also has significant environmental impacts. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with livestock supply chains producing around 14.5% of global emissions. In addition, animal agriculture is a major contributor to water pollution and water scarcity. It is also a major driver of deforestation, as forests are cleared to create past


Public Policy

There are various ways in which laws and policies can help improve the lives of farmed animals. Some of these include:

  1. Humane slaughter laws: These laws require that animals be rendered unconscious before they are killed and that they be slaughtered in a manner that minimizes pain and distress.
  2. Bans on certain farming practices: Many countries have banned or restricted certain farming practices that are known to cause suffering for animals, such as battery cages for egg-laying hens and gestation crates for breeding pigs.
  3. Labeling requirements: Some countries require that products made from animal-derived ingredients be labeled in a way that allows consumers to make informed choices about the welfare of the animals that were used to produce them.
  4. Animal welfare standards: Many countries have established animal welfare standards that outline the minimum requirements for the care and treatment of farmed animals. These standards may be voluntary or may be enforced by law.
  5. Education and awareness campaigns: Governments and advocacy organizations often work to educate the public about the realities of intensive animal agriculture and the impact it has on animal welfare. This can help raise awareness of the issue and encourage people to make more humane choices when it comes to the food they eat.

Overall, legal and policy measures can play a significant role in improving the lives of farmed animals and reducing the suffering that is inherent in intensive animal agriculture.


Corporate Policy

One way that companies can help improve the welfare of farmed animals is by committing to source higher welfare products. This can involve adopting higher animal welfare standards in their own operations, such as providing more space for animals or improving living conditions, as well as working with suppliers to encourage them to adopt higher welfare practices. Some companies have also made commitments to increase their use of plant-based or alternative protein sources in order to reduce their reliance on animal products. By sourcing higher welfare products, companies can help reduce the suffering of farmed animals and improve their overall well-being. It is important for consumers to support these efforts by choosing to purchase products from companies that prioritize animal welfare in their sourcing practices.


Financial institutions

Financial institutions can help farmed animals by divesting from companies involved in intensive animal agriculture and investing in plant-based and higher welfare animal agriculture alternatives. They can also use their influence as investors to encourage companies in their portfolio to adopt higher welfare standards and improve their practices.

Additionally, financial institutions can provide funding for research and development of plant-based and higher welfare animal agriculture technologies, as well as supporting organizations working to promote animal welfare and alternative protein sources. By taking these actions, financial institutions can play a significant role in improving the lives of farmed animals and reducing the negative impacts of intensive animal agriculture on the environment and human health.



Will animals overpopulate and take over the world if everyone goes plant-based?

The population of animals that are killed for human consumption each year is 80 billion which means the population of animals raised for slaughter is already way higher than the human population. The world will not turn plant-based overnight, so there will be a gradual decrease in breeding these animals as the demand for meat decreases over time.

Do humans consume the excess milk that animals in dairy farms produce?

Every mammal needs to be impregnated in order to produce milk which is the amount that is required for the offspring that needs the mother’s milk for sustenance in its initial days. Animals raised for dairy are no different from other mammals. They produce milk only for their offspring. However, in order to meet the human demand for dairy, various interventions like trait selection over generations to produce more milk, have been applied to increase the yield of production. Humans do not consume excess milk, rather the animal is made to produce excess milk to meet human demands.

Does egg production really harm hens?

Their sole purpose of breeding layer hens is for egg production. The wild type fowl produces 12 eggs per year. However, prolific egg-laying hens have been created by humans through hundreds of years of selective breeding and produce 250-300 eggs per year. Moreover, their structural bone is mobilized throughout the laying period in order to contribute to the formation of eggshells leading to osteoporosis and broken bones, in addition to weakening of the bones due to lack of exposure to sunlight and exercise.

Where will we get our calcium and protein from if we are only on a plant-based diet?

While animals and animal products are considered a source of protein, there is a wide variety of inflammatory substances that enter our body too which is increases the risk of various lifestyle diseases. More and more research over the years have shown that plant-based sources of calcium and protein are not only adequate but also healthier options compared to animal sources for the same.

Will we be harming more plants by going plant-based?

More plants are destroyed (through deforestation and also for producing animal feed for the 80 billion+ animals raised for slaughter) to produce animal products than for direct human consumption.



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