Results are in: Canadians are concerned about the harmful effects of industrial animal agriculture
Due to the livestock industry’s heavy demand for crops, water, energy, and land, food has rightly become a key talking point in conversations around sustainability, climate change, and human health.
In July 2021, World Animal Protection conducted an EKOS Research online survey among a sample of Canadian residents to understand where Canadians stand on issues related to our food systems.
One thing is clear: Canadians are concerned about the harmful effects of industrial animal agriculture on human health and the environment, and support policies to transition to healthy and sustainable food systems. Here are the key findings:
94% of Canadians identified health and education, 84% identified climate change and 82% identified pandemic prevention as somewhat or very important issues leading into an election.
3 out of 5 Canadians agreed with many experts who have identified antibiotic use in farming as contributing to a rise in antibiotic resistant “superbugs” and said they would support phasing out the prophylactic use of antibiotics in industrial farming.
76% say water quality is the most important reason for regulating industrial animal agriculture, while 70% believe animal protection and welfare are somewhat to very important issues when deciding who to vote for.
35% of Canadians report reducing or eliminating their consumption of animal products over the past 12 months with the two main reasons cited for this as: 1) to improve their health (41%), and 2) to reduce their impact on climate change (31%).
Almost half (47%) of Canadians are very concerned about the possible environmental effects of animal consumption, such as the increase in biodiversity loss and the increase of greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal agriculture.
Current animal production trends are unsustainable
Increasing demand for animal-source foods stimulates the intensification and industrialization of animal production. Of the more than 70 billion animals farmed annually, 50 billion of them spend their lives on factory farms. They endure short, miserable lives in conditions so horrible they are often prevented from engaging in natural behaviors.
Plus, industrial farming is a major contributor to the climate crisis, accounting for 70% of all agricultural land use and is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases. Our diets have a profound impact on the wider world, and Canadians are making this connection.
Whether we’re talking about food miles, food waste or animal welfare, there is a wide range of issues to contend with when considering the most sustainable food choices.
Our food systems are putting us at risk
When it comes to safeguarding human health, 60% of Canadians agreed with many experts who have identified antibiotic overuse on farm animals as contributing to a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria (aka "superbugs"). Superbugs make it harder for humans to respond to treatment from antibiotics.
Lynn Kavanagh, Farming Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection says:
"Demand for high amounts of animal protein fuels intensification, which in turn fuels the reliance on prophylactic antibiotic use. We need to adopt a healthier farming system which necessitates reducing how much meat and dairy we consume."
Previous pandemics such as the avian flu and swine flu have come from farms. In industrial farms across Canada and around the world, animals are kept in overcrowded, stressful, and unsanitary conditions, making it easy for diseases to spread.
Help put animals on the election agenda
Reach out to your electoral candidate and tell them why you care about improving protection for animals and why they should, too. You can also visit our Vote for Animals website and see where the five main political parties stand on important animal welfare issues in the country.