The Meat of the Matter

When my partner, Adam, mentioned that Whole Foods has introduced an Animal Welfare Rating system for its meat, I asked him to write up what he was talking about. If you’re going to eat meat, avoid the meat from institutional farms—for your sake and the animals’.

As an enthusiastic omnivore in a family with many vegetarians, I’ve never been able to ignore thinking about the ethics of eating—but I had also never heard a compelling argument for total vegetarianism. Then I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and I realized that while I might be comfortable with the idea of killing animals for food, I couldn’t abide their lives being a study in cruelty. I started buying and eating meat only from producers that adhered to high standards for animal treatment and slaughter, but it was harder than I expected to figure out who those producers are. I was pleased, then, to discover that Whole Foods teamed up with the Global Animal Partnership to implement a 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system for its meat. (Five is best.) The more humanely raised meat often costs a little more, but I’d venture that many Tribecans can afford it—and, hopefully, increased demand for humanely raised meat will allow producers to find economies of scale that reduce the costs for everyone.

The 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system:

Step 1: No cages • No crates • No crowding
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered • No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal centered • Entire life on same farm

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