Whole Foods posts signs in its meat departments that say things such as “enriched environment” and “treated humanely.” But what a PETA eyewitness documented at a pig farm that supplies Whole Foods revealed that pigs lived in an environment that most people would never consider “humane.”
So why make these “humane” claims? It could be that Whole Foods executives know that more than 80 percent of Americans feel that it’s important for the animals they eat to be raised “humanely” or that 58 percent of consumers would pay more for animal-derived products that are labeled “humane.”
In 2015, a PETA eyewitness worked for more than two months at Sweet Stem Farm, LLC, a farm that supplies Whole Foods with “humanely raised pork.” Sweet Stem’s website refers to its products as “happy meat.” And Whole Foods touts this type of farm (a “Step 2” farm) as being spacious and having an enriched environment to keep the pigs entertained.
But these promises appear to be nothing more than a way for the company to trick consumers into buying its meat. The pigs on this “free-roaming” farm spent almost all their time crammed into crowded sheds with concrete floors and were given as little as 5 square feet of space each. Workers casually hit some pigs and apparently left sick and injured ones to suffer without adequate veterinary care.
Employees in Whole Foods’ meat department regularly mislead customers about the practices at supplier farms, too, often telling them that pigs on these “Step 2” farms spend time outside, even though most of the farms aren’t required to give them any access to the outdoors.
In fact, during the more than two months that the eyewitness was working on the farm, the pigs were never given the opportunity to touch the lush green grass. The only times that they ever went outside were when workers trucked them from one shed to another, put them on a scale to be weighed, or sent them to slaughter. Some pigs were kept in semi-darkness deep inside a barn.
Whole Foods claims that they live in an “enriched environment.”
Whole Foods–supported standards call for “thermal comfort” for all pigs at all times, yet during hot weather, hundreds of pigs had access to just one water sprinkler.
“Walking into the enclosures was just like coming home to your best dog friend,” PETA’s eyewitness wrote. “They always greeted me: They would come up to me and playfully chew on my boots, nip at my coveralls, and tug at the zippers on my clothing, just like puppies. … They always wanted to play.”
Studies show that pigs are just as smart as the dogs we share our homes with—and probably even smarter. Like dogs, they’re loyal, playful, and affectionate. They can learn to fetch balls and play video games.
And just like the dogs we share our homes with, pigs want love and respect. It’s never “humane” to put a pig or any animal into crowded sheds, and no animal deserves a terrifying death at a slaughterhouse.
There’s no such thing as “humane meat.” Help pigs by going vegan, and share this post to spread the word!