On a per capita basis, Canada is among the top meat consuming nations in the world. The average Canadian consumes 78 kg of beef, pork and poultry and 188 eggs per year. It pays to know what you're buying and eating.
Caring about the lives of farm animals is a choice we can all make. The conditions in which farm animals live and die can be improved by our purchase power.
Food produced through humane farming methods, including high welfare free range and organic production can also have health benefits for you, and is better for the environment.
Things you can do
Choose wisely. When buying eggs, dairy products or meat, make sure they are certified higher welfare by a recognized scheme (such as SPCA certified), free range or certified organic.
Go local. Visit local farms and farmer's markets. Produce on sale there is more likely to have come from farms where the animals can roam freely and behave more naturally. Often the farmer will be there – ask him or her about how long the animals lived, whether they had access to the outdoors and if they were free of growth promoting hormones and antibiotics (unless for veterinary treatment).
Don't trust the label. Beware of labelling like ‘fresh’, ‘farm fresh’, ‘country fresh’ or ‘farm assured’. These labels say nothing about animal welfare, and the products may be produced on a factory farm. Look for higher welfare labels such as ‘free range’, ‘organic’ or the mark of a higher welfare assurance scheme that is backed by an animal welfare group such as SPCA.
Demand high standards. If your supermarket doesn't stock welfare-friendly foods, write to them requesting that they do. Try to maintain your animal-friendly eating habits when you go on holiday.
Some retailers have their own standards which guarantee a level of animal welfare in the production of their store-brand food.
World Animal Protection is working to promote alternatives to factory farming. Find out more.
Choose cage-free eggs
One of the easiest things you can do is to buy only cage-free eggs. Eighty per cent of Canadians feel that it is unacceptable to confine farm animals to small cages. Yet nearly all Canada's eggs come from chickens confined in battery cages. Designed to produce the highest number of eggs as quickly and cheaply as possible, the battery cage is one of the most inhumane ways to keep farm animals.
Fortunately, some farmers are going the extra distance to ensure that the animals they raise experience a decent quality of life. And, as people like you continue to demand humane and organic options, even more farmers will choose cage-free. There are cage-free alternatives in most grocery stores across the country. For just a few cents more you’ll be ensuring that hens have space to turn around and stretch their wings.
Look out for these labels:
Free run: (also known as barn eggs): Hens are allowed to move freely in a barn, usually have access to nest boxes, but no outdoor access. However, this label is not regulated or verified by third-party inspectors, so standards may vary.
Free range: Hens are allowed to move freely, usually have access to nest boxes and outdoor access (weather permitting). However, this label is not regulated, or verified by third-party inspectors, so standards may vary.
Canada Organic: In order for eggs to be labelled organic, they must be certified according to the Organic Products Regulation, which requires hens to be free-run or free-range, have at least 1667 square centimetres of space, outdoor access, organic feed and living conditions that encourage natural behaviour.
BC SPCA certified: Based on the five freedoms of animal welfare. All hens must be free-run or free-range, have at least 1100 square centimetres of space, nest boxes, perches and bedding material.
Help us promote humane farming practices
Promote cage-free eggs in your community, whether it's at your workplace, school cafeteria or a local restaurant.
Look out for cage-free eggs, organic dairy products and organic meat at your local grocery store. If you can't find it, don't give up. Talk to the store manager, or write a letter, and request that they stock humanely-farmed foods. Help create a demand for better food so that fewer animals are subjected to the misery of factory farming.