Signs Of Progress For Farm Animals In The U.S.
Farmed animals represent the vast majority of animals who suffer at human hands, but there is evidence that things are starting to change for the better. Recent research shows that both the number of land-based farmed animals killed in the U.S. actually declined slightly from 2007 to 2008 and the number of vegetarians appears to be on the rise.
Thanks to a periodic analysis by the group Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), we have an accurate picture of the number of farmed animals slaughtered in the U.S., including those that die for related reasons. The latest installment of FARM’s report shows that farmed animal deaths (excluding aquatic animals) declined during the period from 2007 to 2008, the latest year for which statistics are available.
According to FARM:
|The total number of land animals killed for food in the U.S. in 2008 was down 0.6% from 2007, at 10,279 million, despite a 1% increase in U.S. population, according to data extrapolated from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA/NASS) and Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS).
The 10,279 million land animals killed for food in the U.S. in 2008 includes both 9,527 million animals slaughtered as well as an additional 752 million animals, or 7.3%, who died lingering deaths from disease, injury, starvation, suffocation, maceration, or other atrocities of factory farming and animal transport.
Separate research from the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) indicates that the number of “true” vegetarians (those who do not eat any meat, including poultry, seafood, etc.) may be on the rise. VRG conducts a series of surveys every three years, most recently in 2009. They ask respondents, “Which of the following foods do you NEVER eat?” The surveys are based on probability sampling methods, with sample sizes of at least 1,000 adults.
In 2009, VRG found that 3.4% of U.S. adults are vegetarians, compared with 2.3% in 2006 and 2.8% in 2003. While far from definitive, the latest results suggest a possible increase in the proportion of U.S. adults choosing a vegetarian diet. For those who are interested, the “low incidence” nature of the vegetarian population means that margin of error is especially important. Here’s what the VRG results look like with the correct margin of error applied:
|Year||Response||Error Margin||Actual Response Range|
|2009||3.4%||+/- .73%||2.67% to 4.13%|
|2006||2.3%||+/- .93%||1.37% to 3.23%|
|2003||2.8%||+/- 1.02%||1.78% to 3.82%|
|2000||2.5%||+/- .97%||1.52% to 3.47%|
Based on the above stats, the likelihood is very small that there has been no increase in the vegetarian population, though the magnitude of the increase is impossible to state accurately. Nonetheless, VRG does an excellent job of providing a consistent view of the size and demographic breakdown of the adult vegetarian population.
Of course, Faunalytics has also conducted our own research on the vegetarian population, including an in-depth study completed in 2005. Our report, “Advocating Vegetarianism and Meat Reduction to Adults,” provides a detailed segmentation of U.S. consumers based on both demographic groupings and dietary choices. Go here to see the full Faunalytic’s study.