Support For Farmed Animal Laws: A Global Comparison
Over time, people have begun to recognize that animals are sentient and deserve legal protections. This study sheds light on people’s attitudes toward farmed animal welfare legislation. Approximately 1,000 participants from the U.S., Brazil, Russia, India, and China completed a questionnaire about animal welfare — alongside the E.U., these countries conduct 56% of the world’s animal trade. The question of interest for the authors was, “To what extent would you oppose or support a law in your country that would require animals used for food to be treated more humanely?”
58% of respondents supported improved farmed animal welfare legislation, and only 12% were opposed. Russian and U.S. women were the most supportive groups, alongside Brazilian men over age 50. Older Indians were more likely to support farmed animal welfare legislation than younger Indians. Russian men and younger Brazilians and Indians were most likely to oppose farmed animal welfare legislation. Chinese people were most likely to be neutral.
The study revealed that 76% of U.S. women and 46% of U.S. men support stronger farmed animal welfare legislation. Federal legislation is difficult to pass in the U.S., but the authors point out that many corporations have noticed the high level of support for animal welfare and have adopted self-imposed farmed animal welfare standards.
While Brazilian support for farmed animal welfare began as early as 1934 with the passage of an anti-animal-cruelty decree, the authors argue that animal welfare science in Brazil has lagged behind Europe. However, Brazilians showed a high level of support for farmed animal welfare legislation in this survey, perhaps because of the work of local animal advocates. Specifically, 70% of Brazilians supported stronger farmed animal welfare legislation, and older Brazilians were especially likely to be in favor. Of all those surveyed regardless of country, the most supportive group was Brazilian men above the age of 50. Brazil was the only country that did not demonstrate a large gender imbalance in support of farmed animal welfare legislation.
India has a long history of cultural, religious, and legal support for animal welfare, although some people say that its current animal welfare legislation is inadequate. Only about 40% of young people supported improved farmed animal welfare legislation. In contrast, about 70% of Indians older than 65 years were supportive. The authors argue that young Indians are less likely to be devout Hindus and more likely to want to imitate Western living standards.
According to the authors, China has no legislation against animal cruelty and little public support for farmed animal welfare. This study found that around 40% of Chinese women and 30% of Chinese men supported better farmed animal welfare legislation. However, most people — about 52% of women and 63% of men from China — were neutral about the topic. Perhaps many Chinese people simply aren’t aware about these issues.
Russia recently passed its first legislation against animal cruelty, but the authors claim there is room for improvement in both the legislation and its implementation. Around 65% of Russian women supported improved farmed animal welfare legislation compared to 46% of men. Russian men were the most likely to oppose farmed animal welfare legislation regardless of country. Russian men were more likely than Russian women to be involved in hunting or farming, which may explain these results.
It’s clear that people in different countries have different levels of support for animal welfare. Animal advocates may have success pushing for strategic legislation in countries such as the U.S. and Brazil, which showed high levels of support. Conversely, in countries such as China, advocates may want to focus on raising awareness before pushing for legal changes. Overall, the news seems positive — most people in this study supported higher legal standards of animal welfare, which means we are moving in the right direction.