“I do care about the well-being of animals. “that’s why I make sure to only buy animal products that come from “high welfare farms and humane slaughterhouses, “where the animals haven’t suffered or felt any pain.” Is the excuse “I only buy animal products from Red Tractor approved, RSPCA assured, or free range facilities” a morally justifiable reason to not go vegan? Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer who drugged his victims before he killed them. In essence, meaning they didn’t feel any pain and they didn’t suffer as they were killed. Did that make the action of killing those people morally justifiable? The thing is, when we take a hen out of a cage and put them into an overcrowded barn, it does very little for the welfare of the animals. Labels like free-range, or high welfare, or humanely slaughtered, don’t actually represent truly the treatment of the animals. They’re there for us, the consumer, to ease our conscience. They don’t do anything to actually provide real relief for the animals who are still being exploited, are still suffering, and are still ultimately killed. Phrases like “humane slaughter” are an oxymoron. The word “humane” means to have or show compassion or benevolence. So how can you compassionately, benevolently, or humanely take the life of an animal that does not want to die for an unnecessary reason? The only humane way to slaughter an animal is to not slaughter them. The only humane way to exploit an animal is to not exploit them. The only happy chickens are the chickens they get to live out their life truly in freedom, not free-range. Of course, there’s an argument that improving the treatment of these animals is better than doing nothing, in the same way that taking a Paracetamol for a broken arm is better than doing nothing. But the reality is, the impact it has is very small, and it doesn’t actually solve the problem. The arm is still broken, or the animal is still suffering. What we have to understand is that there is no right way to do the wrong thing. And exploiting animals in any sense is always the wrong thing, regardless of how we do it. Let’s look at free-range as an example. The free-range label is a marketing ploy, and it’s a deceitful cover-up for the fact that these hens are still suffering. I used to buy free-range eggs with the belief that the hens that produce these eggs lived a good, happy, and fulfilled life. But the reality is the complete opposite of that for free-range hens. These hens, like they’re caged counterparts, will also be de-beaked. The male chicks are still ground up alive at birth, and they’re ultimately still killed at around 72 weeks old. The barns are so overcrowded that most of the free-range hens will still not experience sunlight or breathe fresh air. In fact, 16,000 birds can be kept in a barn, which means that nine birds can be housed per square meter of space. That doesn’t sound like free-range to me. Now, let’s look at happy cows and happy milk. Is a cow happy when she is forcibly impregnated? Is that mother cow happy when her baby is taken away from her? Is she happy when she’s exploited for what is rightfully there for her child? Is she happy when she’s loaded in a truck and taken to a slaughterhouse? Is she happy when the bolt gun is against her head or the knife against her throat? Make no mistake, there is no happiness in milk, there is no happiness in eggs, and there is no happiness in animal exploitation. Now, the reality is, it doesn’t matter how nice a life an animal has lived; the moment we exploit them for what isn’t ours, the moment we take them to the slaughterhouse or to the yard to kill them, and make no mistake, all the animals that we exploit, we kill in the end. The moment we do that, that is abusive, there’s exploitation, and it cannot be morally justified. These animals don’t care if they’re grass-fed, organic, free-range, Red Tractor approved, or RSPCA assured, those labels aren’t there for them. All these animals want is to be free, truly free, not free-range, not free to pasture 4 to 6 months of the year, free to live out their lives without fear of human-inflicted pain, suffering, and terror. Now, it always strikes me strange that when we protest against something like the Yulin dog meat festival, we don’t protest for these dogs to be kept in better conditions. We don’t say it’s acceptable to kill a dog if they’re kept in a bigger cage, or if they’re killed in a more humane way. We say that the exploitation of dogs and cats in situations like Yulin is wrong full stop, and it should be abolished. There’s no “buts,” there’s no “ifs.” The exploitation and death of dogs for that reason is wrong and immoral and cannot be justified. So I ask you, if the Labrador steaks being consumed in Yulin were Red Tractor approved, would that make it moral? If the minced poodle was RSPCA assured, would that make it more moral? If these animals were taken to British slaughterhouses, and the dogs were killed in the same way that we kill cows and pigs in this country, would that make it acceptable in your eyes? But if you wouldn’t consider it acceptable to gas dogs alive, why would it be acceptable to gas pigs alive? And by the way, gas chambers are considered the most humane way of killing pigs in this country. We can’t have different standards for different animals. All animals are warranted the same moral value and the same moral consideration. Which means that if it’s not acceptable to kill dogs in Yulin, it’s not acceptable to kill pigs, chickens, cows, or sheep in this country, regardless of the label, regardless of the marketing ploy, or regardless of the way that it is done. Now, the reason these companies use these marketing ploys, these labels, is to make us complicit in systems and industries that we’d normally be disgusted by. Most of us hate the things that we do to animals. We view them as disgusting, which is why you buy products that are labeled free-range or Red Tractor approved. But we’ve been tricked into thinking that some animals are deserving of life and some animals aren’t. All we have to understand is, these labels don’t mean anything for the animals. They all feel pain and they all suffer regardless of the systems that are exploiting them within. If you want to learn more about this, then I urge you to watch the documentary Land of Hope and Glory, which goes into detail, and explores and unearths the hidden myths behind animal exploitation, and shows just once and for all that these labels mean nothing. They all want to live. They should all be granted that basic right to live, and we have no moral justification to take their life from them regardless of what label or marketing ploy is on their flesh or on their secretions.