Canada and the U.S. are among the most dismal countries among 50 surveyed in the way farm animals are treated, according to a new survey monitoring animal welfare.
The Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI) calls itself a global interactive education resource based out of Australia and tracks the animal welfare performance of fifty countries — selected among the largest producers of farm animal products in the world.
These countries account for almost 80% of the world’s farm animal production.
The new index complements the World Animal Protection Index (API) published in 2014. While the API ranked the quality of animal welfare legislation across countries, the VACI focuses specifically on the welfare of farm animals. This yields entirely new country rankings: thus, Kenya, India, Tanzania, and the Philippines displace Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom at the top of the animal welfare league table.
Approximately 70 billion farm animals are slaughtered each year for human consumption globally.
This equates to 2,200 animals per second. The number of animals slaughtered worldwide is increasing at a rapid pace asmeat and dairy consumption rises, so does factory farming, which is rife with animal cruelty: most farm animals are permanently confined in cages or packed together in such large numbers that they struggle to find space to move or reach their food.
Ondine Sherman, co-founder and managing director of Voiceless said the point of the index is to raise awareness of the global suffering of farmed animals.
It is a powerful educational resource that we believe can assist educators and advocates around the world make positive change for animals.”
American author and animal rights advocate Jeffrey M Masson, who is supporting the index said the animal rights movement has long lacked a reliable index that tells the public how countries stack up when it comes to cruelty towards farm animals.
What country kills the most animals; is eating the most meat; has the best laws; displays the greatest awareness? And at the same time, what changes can we monitor? What great fortune that Voiceless has decided to do something about this!”
Voiceless, the animal protection institute is an independent think tank based in Australia www.voiceless.org.au. The VACI can be viewed at: vaci.voiceless.org.au
The institute points to factory farming as the main problem. Around 70 billion farm animals are slaughtered each year for human consumption globally. This equates to over 191 million animals per day, almost 8 million per hour or 2,200 animals per second. Factory farming causes the greatest suffering to the largest number of animals globally. The number of farms are increasing because of population growth and rising incomes in developing countries have led to increased appetite for animals as food.
The expansion of factory farming have also led to more countries transitioning away from traditional pasture-based farms, the institute said.
Countries assessed are among the largest producers of farm animal products in the world. The VACI seeks to assess the suffering caused by producers and consumers of farm animal products, as well as the countervailing effects of the animal protection legislative and regulatory environment, as follows:
- Producing Cruelty assesses country performance based on the number of farm animals slaughtered for food every year (on a per capita basis), whilst taking explicit account of the fact that animals are treated and protected differently in each country.
- Consuming Cruelty assesses country performance based on the consumption of farm animals, by looking at the ratio of plant-based protein to farm-animal protein consumed and the number of animals consumed in each country (on a per capita basis).
- Sanctioning Cruelty assesses country performance based on the societal and cultural attitudes to farm animals, as reflected in the quality of the regulatory frameworks that protect, or fail to protect, farm animals.
SO HOW DID THE COUNTRIES PERFORM OVERALL?
Overall, the countries that VACI ranked the highest (i.e. the least cruel) were Kenya, India, and the United Republic of Tanzania. Those ranked the lowest were Belarus, the United States and Venezuela.
This ranking provides a fresh perspective relative to the landmark index published on November 24, 2014 by World Animal Protection – formerly WSPA. Whereas the API focused on the quality of animal welfare legislation and regulation across countries, the new VACI focuses on results by providing estimates of the origins, scope, and intensity of human-induced animal suffering.
As a result, India rises from an adequate performer under the API to second place under the VACI. Canada drops from a marginal performer under the API to a very poor performer under the VACI and the United States moves down from the marginal category in the API to the extremely poor category in the VACI.