Animals used for Consumption
Credits : anipixels.com
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.
Millions of farmed animals in India are subjected to cruel and inhumane conditions that cause immense suffering and harm to their health, welfare, and to the environment. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), India had about 192.5 million cattle, 109.9 million buffaloes, 148.9 million goats, 74.3 million sheep, 9.1 million pigs and 851.8 million poultry in 2019. These numbers are expected to grow as the demand for animal products increases with population growth, urbanization, and income rise.
The living conditions for farm animals in India vary; however, in general, they are far from adequate and often violate the basic principles of animal welfare. Some of the common issues faced by farm animals in India are lack of space, hygiene, food and water, veterinary care and humaneness during slaughter.
Intensive farming of animals in India not only causes animal suffering but environmental degradation, human health risks, social injustice including human and animal rights violations, labor exploitation, gender discrimination, and cultural oppression. The cause of farm animal welfare in India is highly neglected by the government, public, media, and donors. According to a report by Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE), an organisation that evaluates, and promotes effective animal advocacy organisations worldwide: “India is home to more than one billion people as well as hundreds of millions of farmed animals. Despite this large population size, and despite having one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India receives relatively little attention from international farmed animal advocates.”
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.
What are the best solutions?
- Equitable consumption is the idea that everyone should have fair and equal access to the resources and goods they need, without compromising the well-being of other people, animals, or the environment. This can be achieved through reduced consumption of animal sourced protein, refining methods of production like cage-free, and replacing animal sourced products with alternate protein.
- By reducing the use and exploitation of animals for food or other purposes, we can reduce the amount of animal suffering and harm in the world.
- Through the improvement of conditions, and treatment of animals, that are used for food or other purposes, we can enhance their quality of life and well-being.
- By adopting more sustainable and humane alternatives to animal products, we can contribute to a more just and healthier world for humans and animals alike.
IAF aims to reduce the immense suffering and the number of animals raised for food by seeding or supporting organisations that work on various aspects of this cause, both on the demand and supply side. These organisations include:
Plant Based Food Industries Association of India (PBFIA) : PBFIA is an industry body that represents and promotes the interests of plant-based food businesses in India. PBFI’s mission is to create a conducive environment for the growth and development of plant-based food industries in India. PBFIA provides support and guidance to its members on various aspects of plant-based food production, marketing, distribution, regulation, and innovation. PBFI also advocates for policies and initiatives that encourage the consumption of plant-based foods among consumers. It now has 100+ companies as its members.
Cage-free and Free Range Egg Producers Association of India (CFEP) : CFEP is an association that represents and supports cage-free and free range egg producers in India. CFEP’s mission is to improve the welfare and productivity of laying hens in India by promoting cage-free- and free-range egg production systems. CFEP provides technical assistance, training, certification, and marketing support to its members on various aspects of cage-free- and free-range egg production. CFEP also educates and influences consumers, retailers, food service providers, and policymakers on the benefits of cage-free- and free-range eggs.
Physicians Association for Nutrition India (PAN India) : PAN India is an international NGO on a mission to eliminate diet-related deaths globally. PAN India’s mission is to integrate nutrition-specific interventions into health systems in India by empowering healthcare professionals with the tools, techniques and know-how to treat their patients with the power of evidence-based nutrition.
Vegan Outreach : a 501c3 nonprofit organisation working to end violence towards animals. Through its outreach campaigns, specifically focusing on college students, more than 100,000 youth have signed-up for the 10-weeks to Vegan programme in India.
Veganuary : The global pledge to try vegan for 31 days was born in 2014 and is now observed in 200+ countries and territories across the world. Every January, lakhs of people try a plant-based lifestyle to improve their health, to reduce animal suffering and to reduce the climate impact of industrial animal farming. In India, more than 2,75,000 individuals have signed-up for the same in the last three years
Animal Climate and Health Save Foundation : the foundation is creating a social justice movement in India that encourages healthy planetary choices to reverse climate change, to reforest the earth and seeks to abolish all forms of animal exploitation and promote plant-based diets.
IAF is also working to bring ProVeg International and Asia Research and Engage (ARE) to India to accelerate protein transition to more sustainable alternatives.
Climate financing is the provision of funds by public or private entities to support projects or programmes that aim to mitigate or adapt to the impacts of climate change. The ALT PROTEIN industry is the sector that produces alternative sources of protein that do not rely on animal agriculture and offer benefits such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, land and water use, and animal suffering; improving food security, nutrition, and health; and creating economic opportunities and innovation.
India is one of the country’s most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and is also one of the largest consumers and producers of animal products, with the sector contributing to about 15% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, 25% of the country’s water footprint, and 58% of the country’s land use.
Reasons why India should tap climate financing to support alt protein industry:
- Alignment with climate goals : Supporting the ALT PROTEIN industry can help India achieve its climate goals under the Paris Agreement and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
- Alignment with development goals : By aiding the ALT PROTEIN industry can also help India achieve its development goals under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the National Development Agenda.
- Alignment with cultural values : Supporting the ALT PROTEIN industry can also help India align with its cultural values of compassion and non-violence towards animals.
There are several strategies that India can adopt to tap climate financing to support the ALT PROTEIN industry :
- Leveraging existing funds : India can leverage existing climate funds that are available for various sectors or themes that are relevant to the ALT PROTEIN industry. For example, India can access the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is the largest multilateral fund dedicated to supporting developing countries in their climate actions.
- Creating new funds : India can create new climate funds specifically dedicated to supporting the ALT PROTEIN industry. For example, India can establish a National Alt Protein Fund (NAPF), which is a domestic fund that mobilises public and private resources to support the ALT PROTEIN industry in India.
- Partnering with other stakeholders : India can also partner with other stakeholders who are interested or involved in climate financing and the ALT PROTEIN industry. For example, India can collaborate with other countries that are leading or emerging in the ALT PROTEIN industry, such as Israel, Singapore, the US, the UK, etc.
- Carbon credit : Another source of climate financing that can support the ALT PROTEIN industry is the carbon credit market. Alt protein industry can benefit from the carbon credit market by generating or selling carbon credits based on the emissions reduction or avoidance achieved by replacing animal products with alt protein products.
IAF is working on a strategy to drive advocacy for an Alt Protein strategy and roadmap for India.
Join the cause
Each day we are partnering with NGOs to amplify their efforts. We cannot be more thrilled about it.