Vegan Tips

The Myth of “Free-Range”

Most vegans are all too familiar with the laundry list of cliched arguments  meat-eaters whip out to justify their eating choices. We’re used to  being bombarded with questions about  why we choose kale over cheeseburgers, but as soon as we start to  explain our reasoning (animal rights, environmental impact, etc.,) it’s a  safe bet what the response will be. Omnivore’s defenses for their meat  habits range from the misguided “where do you  get your protein?!” to the irritating “but BACON though.”  However, one  of the most flawed of these arguments is “I only eat local/free range  meat;” the notion that if the animal was free to roam the fields prior  to slaughter, meat is somehow acceptable.
 
While the cruel conditions of factory farms are well-documented, many meat  eaters rely heavily on the idea that free-range animals “lived a good  life” and therefore can be consumed  without moral question. Moreover, the exact terms of what “free range”  entails are vaguely defined, with no real system in place to check the legitimacy of the “cruelty-free” label meat corporations can slap on their packages. There are plenty of ways to be cruel  to farmed animals besides locking them in cages. 
 
Moral implications aside, “free range” meat is actually just as bad  for the environment as factory farmed meat. In fact, some say it’s even worse. Vegans may sound  like a broken record with this one, but meat production contributes more to global warming than cars. Short of a hundred-mile oil spill, it’s one of the worst things a person can do for the environment.
 
The health argument also still stands: while it may claim to lack the artificial ingredients of processed meat, organic meat is not a “health food.” According to the Physician’s Committee, meat - any meat - causes cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.
 
Basically, there is no such thing  as sustainable or “safe” meat. Whether a farmed animal was trapped in steel cage or roamed in the most idyllic of pastures, meat is extremely detrimental to the environment, to animals, and to human health.
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