Is There Such a Thing as 'Humane' Meat?

Profile photo of Whitney-C

Posted October 22, 2012 by Whitney Calk

This conversation has happened to all of us at one time or another (and if it hasn’t yet, it will eventually). You’re chatting with a friend, a classmate, a family member, or even a stranger about the suffering that animals endure on factory farms, and the person fires back with this: “But I only eat humane meat!”

What exactly is “humane” meat? Does it really exist, or is it just a marketing gimmick and an excuse that people use to justify eating animals? PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk weighs in:

humane meat cowMany PETA members have contacted us to ask whether they should support so-called “humane” meat. It’s a question that we all should be asking because this issue is very important—particularly for the billions of animals who are killed for our plates every year.

If you look around, society is at a turning point. Everyone from the NFL’s Arian Foster to Bill Clinton to Anne Hathaway is talking about how going vegan boosts one’s energy and keeps one looking slim and healthy. Grocery stores are packed with tasty vegan foods, from faux meats such as vegan chicken and ribs to dairy-free products such as rice milk ice cream and vegan cheese! It’s no longer a chore to ask for a vegan meal in restaurants, including steakhouses, and there are now vegan options at schools across the country. Some universities even have all-vegan cafeterias.

Now, more than ever before, it’s time to be kind to animals by not paying someone else to slaughter them—something that happens even on so-called “humane” farms.

PETA has pushed hard and will continue to push hard to reduce the sum total of suffering in the meat, dairy, and egg industries—because that makes a huge difference if you are a pig or a chicken on a factory farm. We’ve ended PETA protests outside Burger King and McDonald’s restaurants when those companies agreed to reforms, but that doesn’t mean that we would ever suggest that someone eat meat from Burger King or anywhere else—because we know that massive suffering still goes into every bite. Yes, it’s better to pay extra for an egg from a chicken who had a marginally less hideous life than one who suffered more, but we must do better by animals.

In fact, we have yet to find a “humane” factory farm where animals don’t have their tails cut off and their ears painfully notched, where they aren’t debeaked, dehorned, or castrated without anesthesia, where they aren’t kept in crowded conditions without sunlight or fresh air, where they don’t have their beloved children taken away from them, where they aren’t denied the companionship of others, where they aren’t sent to a feedlot, or where they are instantly killed without the trauma of capture, the horror of transportation, or the terror of seeing other animals murdered before suffering the same fate.

PETA has pushed for vegan living since our inception in 1980. Our motto is: “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.” With so many vegan cookbooks and meal options available and with programs like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart and our wildly popular vegan starter kit, we can all help animals—and not miss a thing. Let’s live and let live, and tell others to come along with us, reminding them that animals have emotions and needs just as human beings do.

There is no such thing as humane meat. Giving animals a few more inches of living space is simply not enough. Animals deserve more. The momentum is on our side, but it will take every one of us to bring this change about by being active advocates of animal rights.

Ingrid E. Newkirk




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  • Profile photo of advocate4animals

    493 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Here’s a question that worries me a little, if everyone becomes vegan won’t animals overpopulate? I personally want a peace-filled world where animals are free from our cruelty but so many people keep asking me that same question and I have no idea what to say.

    • Profile photo of CaseyRedd

      474 days ago

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


      The fewer people who eat meat, the fewer animals who will need to be killed to end up on a plate. They’ll simply not be bred for us to consume anymore. :)

  • Profile photo of mediattack

    1132 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Agreed. Any form of awareness is great even if it is pop culture and not perfect.

  • Profile photo of alexblue

    1133 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    So totally agree…superfabulous post! Animals are our friends, our companions, our teachers…they’re certainly deserving of the very best we have to give them. Many thanks for the hard work you all do to keep pushing this message and showing everyone the vegan way can be yumful and fun and so easy!

  • Profile photo of rawrxmoranda13

    1133 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    In Wisconsin it is so difficult to find a resteraunt with vegan/vegetarian options! “Humane” Meat hasn’t been a term I’ve heard much, but it sounds like complete stupidity to me. Animals should have some type of national government protection…. They have a purpose too! (Which isn’t meat. Animals can do alot more than just be served on a plate.)

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