From Meatless Mondays to “Ag-gag” bills being blocked, here are a few other successes of 2013:
• The number of animals being eaten domestically and internationally is being reduced. Nine billion farm animals are raised for food in the United States alone. Many animal welfare organizations pushed for “Meatless Mondays” to be adopted by restaurants, schools, and businesses. The Los Angeles Unified School District alone has accounted for 34 million meals each year going from meat-based to meat-free. Even master chef Mario Batali has agreed to make Meatless Mondays part of his menu. Though Mario is a big meat lover, he is embracing Meatless Monday in all of his 14 restaurants across the county. And not only will switching one of your meat-meals to a vegetarian meal once a week make a difference in the lives of animals, it will also help the environment. The Environmental Defense Fund states that if every American had one meat-free meal per week, it would have the same environmental impact as taking more than 5 million cars off our roads!
• Animal testing for cosmetics is being reduced. This past year, the European Union put a complete ban on the sale of cosmetics developed through animal testing, and China is considering an end to mandatory animal testing on cosmetics. Starting in June of 2014, animal testing will no longer be mandatory for “non-specialized cosmetics,” including shampoo, soaps, and certain skin products manufactured in China, according to a document posted on the website of the China Food and Drug Administration earlier this month.
• The food industry is shifting away from cruel gestation crates for pigs. Animal advocates have decried gestation crates for decades. Last year McDonald’s, Burger King, Kroger, and dozens of other major food companies decided to oppose gestation crates and 2013 saw many more companies added to that list. This year alone, Papa John’s, Quiznos, Bob Evans, Applebee’s, IHOP, Johnsonville Sausage, Marriott, Ahold (owner of Giant and Stop & Shop), and others join the movement. Now, more than 60 of the largest food companies are saying “no!” to gestation crates and demanding more humane alternatives in their pork supply chains.
• More countries are banning the use of animals in circuses. Peru, Greece, Bolivia, and Belgium have all banned the use of animals in circuses. This year, India has been added to that list. Most animals used in circuses are meant to roam over vast territories, but instead live chained or caged in cramped transport trailers and boxcars, allowed out only when forced to do demeaning tricks. According to animal welfare groups, animals in circuses are torn from their families, are beaten into submission, and suffer from arthritis, foot problems, and other conditions.
• Meat industry-backed anti-whistleblower “ag gag” bills were pushed in 11 states and not a single one passed. Anti-whistleblower “Ag gag” bills seek to criminalize whistle blowing investigations that spotlight factory farms’ and slaughterhouses’ routine animal abuse and food safety problems. In 2013, agribusiness pushed 15 bills in 11 states. Not a single one of these dangerous bills has passed so far this year, thanks to animal welfare groups’ legislative campaigns.
• More chickens are finally able to spread their wings. The majority of India’s 28 states, and the country’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, agree with the Animal Welfare Board of India’s 2012 statement that barren battery cage confinement is in violation of the nation’s animal cruelty laws. This sets the stage for a phase out of barren battery cages in the country, which is currently the third largest egg producer in the world.
2013 was a good year for the advancement of animal welfare. Here’s hoping 2014 is even better!