Have you had a meatless Christmas dinner this year?
Plant-based foods are now so varied and readily available that it’s likely you’ve replaced some or all of your traditional Christmas dinner with quorn pigs in blankets, veggie sausage, or roast nuts.
If you stick with tradition, have you bought a free-range turkey?
Sadly, millions of turkeys are still kept under intensive conditions in the UK, with limited space to roam in dimly lit barns without daylight.
As with factory-farmed chickens, birds are bred to produce as much meat as possible on their breasts, which means that they often find it difficult to walk and lead miserable, short lives.
This article will not go into the graphic details of how turkeys and chickens are slaughtered and the inadequate minimum welfare standards that prevail, but please take the time to do your own research.
One of the highlights of 2021 for the ManxSPCA was being able to save three factory-farmed chickens that had sort of appeared on a side road in Ronague.
They were skeletal, had prolapsed oviducts from excessive egg-laying, and two had had their beaks trimmed (that is, their beak tips had been cut off to prevent pecking at each other under severe conditions. overcrowding).
Unfortunately, we have not been able to trace the origin of these birds – in fact, it appears poultry producers can operate on the Isle of Man with very little regulation or inspection.
Food for thought indeed, and another reason to make sure you only buy free range eggs and meat.
The three “Golden Girls” as we called them have made a full recovery and have been relocated to a family that adores their pet chickens and gives them the life they deserve.
Public awareness is key to improving and monitoring animal welfare standards, and the spotlight has recently been on decapods, which include crabs, lobsters, and crayfish, and cephalopods, which include squid and octopus (or octopus).
A recent study from a University of London concluded that these species are sensitive and capable of feeling pain and emotions.
The review calls for a ban on boiling or dismembering live lobsters and crabs, as is the case in some restaurants, without first being knocked out with a specialized instrument – and it recommends that the fishing industry be prohibited from declawing crabs.
It also calls for a review of the slaughter of octopus and squid at sea because none of the existing methods are humane – and a ban on the import of farmed octopus.
Octopuses have the largest and most complex brains of all invertebrates, and have been observed to behave in surprisingly sophisticated ways.
Some have been shown to use large seashells as defensive tools, while others build and transport shelters made from coconut shells – both signs of cognition.
Plans for a large commercial octopus industrial farm in Spain were recently announced.
The farm will produce 3,000 tonnes of octopus per year, and the company involved says this will help protect octopuses in the wild and stem the decline in their population.
But many environmentalists and marine biologists have condemned the planned farm on the grounds that octopuses are an unsuitable species for breeding and the practice cannot be carried out ethically (one wonders, however, whether an animal factory farm is ethical). .
Octopuses are solitary, territorial creatures and in need of stimulation and enrichment, and living in a sterile reservoir surrounded by other octopuses would be inhuman.
If the farm goes ahead, the creatures raised there will receive little protection under EU law, as EU legislation covering breeding, housing and slaughter only applies to to vertebrates.
So, if you are thinking of making a New Years resolution, why not try verifying where the food you eat comes from, especially if it’s meat or seafood?
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