A wise, torture-free choice

Eating with a clear conscience

To a certain degree it is in the power of consumers to co-determine which animal products are offered and sold to us - and obviously, we are able to decide what we want to eat. Knowledge and conscience are decision-making aids. Basically, you can decide for yourself whether you wish to eat animal proteins or not. If you decide to eat meat, eggs, or diary products, it is your moral obligation to inquire as to where the products came from. The well-being of the animals should serve as guidance with regard to the choice we make. Consumption can only be justified if a product was made with decency and integrity.


Swiss products leading

Thanks to a law regulating animal housing and the handling of farm animals, Swiss animal protection standards are better than those in the EU or in other countries of the world. Battery cages for laying hens, the castration of piglets without anesthesia, or animal factories for pigs and hen are forbidden in Switzerland – contrary to the EU. Contrary to Switzerland, the EU allows for the use of antibiotics to enhance performance and does not prohibit animal transports that take days. From an animal protection perspective, animal products from EU member states or from overseas should be refused and preference should be given to Swiss products. However, in part, there are major differences with regard to animal well-being here, as well.


Legal protection is insufficient

The majority of Swiss products are manufactured in compliance with legal stipulations. Legally compliant production meets minimum requirements, because the Animal Protection Act and its stipulations do not primarily serve the well-being of animals. Housing fattened pigs on slatted floors, for instance, is in line with the law but far from being livestock-friendly. Therefore, it is recommended to choose products that were not mass-produced. This, for instance, applies to animal husbandry sites that are managed according to the regulations of programs such as BTS (particularly animal-friendly animal stabling) and RAUS (regular exercise outdoors) that place greater requirements towards animal well-being. The additional work to be provided by the farmers is reimbursed by government subsidies on the one hand and higher sales prices for especially animal-friendly foodstuffs on the other. Naturafarm products of Coop (Coop is Switzerland’s „Swiss animal protection champion“ among the country’s major retailers) stem from animal husbandry programs that at least meet these requirements.


Label meat or not

Thanks to the Internet, is has become easy for consumers to obtain a picture on label requirements towards animal husbandry, animal transport or slaughtering. The non-profit organization KAGfreiland engages to improve upon the well-being of farm animals. Simultaneously, KAGfreiland is Switzerland’s organic label with the strictest requirements. The organization’s general guidelines on the one hand and its requirements towards the housing of cattle, pigs, rabbits, laying hen, and other species on the other, lay down regulations aiming at ensuring sound animal husbandry. For information on where and how agricultural products are manufactured, you can refer to the regional products platform of the MUT Foundation of the Zurich Animal Protection Association.


Animal protection in food retail trade 2010

It is under this title that the Swiss Animal Protection Association, STS, published a report on the situation of the national meat and egg offer as well as the significance of Swiss label products in retail trade. The well-being of animals as well as Swiss meat and egg label products have become increasingly important to consumers and are in greater demand. Hundreds of thousands of farm animals have been able to benefit from the corresponding endeavors of Coop and Migros – the two major Swiss retailers increasingly meeting consumer demand for label products.


Contrary to this, the two German discounters, Aldi and Lidl, have hardly attached any importance to species-appropriate animal husbandry to date. This also applies to the entire gastronomic industry. There is a lack of awareness for animal protection – in simple local eateries as well as in costly gourmet restaurants. In part, even eggs from battery cages or meat stemming from animal factories end up on our plates.


Less is more

About 50 kg of meat, 70 kg of milk, approx. 20 kg of cheese, and 5.7 kg of butter were consumed per capita in Switzerland in 2009. A society that devours such quantities of animal proteins encourages industrial production and neglects animal well-being to a large degree. From an animal protection perspective, increased animal well-being can be ensured by reducing meat consumption. It would be unrealistic to demand that everyone become a vegetarian or a vegan. The Zurich Animal Protection Association accepts the fact that people eat meat. However, it is entirely against the exploitation and instrumentalization of farm animals and has endeavored to ensure animal well-being for several decades now.


Meat at a price

Rotes Rindfleisch, mit Petersilie dekoriert.
© Olga Langerova / fotolia.com