Farm Animals

Nov 23, 2021 | 0 comments

Join host Maureen Armstrong as she talks with Steve McIvor, CEO of London, UK-based World Animal Protection, an international organization that has been working for over 50 years to end animal cruelty by addressing the root causes.

A major—if not the major—cause of animal suffering is one that most of us are aware of but, perhaps, tend to ignore: factory farming.

The way humans have raised animals for food hasn’t always been as cruel as it is today, but an increasing human population has created extraordinary demands. From the facilities in which animals are raised and slaughtered, to the physical characteristics of animals themselves, that chicken sandwich, glass of milk, or cheeseburger in your hand is the product of an international, interdependent system that generally treats sentient beings as inanimate commodities.  It is also a key driver of climate change.

But, as Steve reveals, it’s not all doom and gloom. Thankfully, via social media and channels like this podcast, awareness of animal cruelty in farming is increasing, and changes to regulations and technology mean that we can do better for billions of animals around the globe.

It’s a conversation that will increase your awareness, enable you to make positive changes, and leave you feeling hopeful about the future.

Episode Links:

Episode Transcript

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Maureen Armstrong:

Hello everyone. On today’s episode of the animal guide for curious humans, we are talking about factory farming and the animals at the center of that industry. This is a really important subject on many fronts, environmental sustainability, climate change, food security. We are going to look at it obviously from the perspective of animal welfare. Our guest today is Steve McIvor. He is the Chief Executive Officer of World Animal Protection. WAP is a nongovernmental organization based in London, England and it works across the globe to help end needless animal suffering. Steve will give us a nice overview of the organization. WAP has engaged in in several animal welfare issues. The issue of animals in farming is particularly significant for them. And he is going to share valuable insight into the global food system and its impact on animals. He also spends time talking about the natural habitats and behaviors of the animals that really we have so commodified through the decades that most of us don’t even know what these animals are really like and what their natural behaviors are. Two preliminary comments before we get started. I want to draw your attention to the fact that I serve on the board of directors of World Animal Protection Canada. It’s an affiliate office here in Canada and so I know WAP and Steve Well as a board member. I’m a volunteer. I don’t receive receive any remuneration for that role and also the animal guide for curious humans podcast is my creation, it is not affiliated with WAP. So neither the show nor this episode is sponsored by World Animal Protection. It’s just a conversation between Steve and I on an important subject for which I think the organization is doing some very interesting and valuable work. One other matter is that this episode speaks of land animals farmed for human use, but we don’t really get into fish and there is much to say about that topic as well. Most of the fish that we consume these days does come from aqua farming. So I will dedicate another episode in the future on that subject. Today, we’re going to be really concentrating on land animals. And so with that, here is Steve McIvor on factory farming.

[music]

Steve McIvor:

I’m Steve McIvor. I’m the chief executive for World Animal Protection International.

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Maureen Armstrong:

So, Steve, thanks so much for coming on the the show today. I really appreciate it. Before we sort of dive into our subjects, I’m curious, you know, obviously, you, animal welfare is in your job description. But how did you initially become interested in animal welfare just as a person?

Steve McIvor:

Yeah, I I think it was actually reading reading a book. So I was 10, 11, 12 years old, I read a book called Tarka the Otter and it told the story of an Otter, Otter families and their lives and how they were actually the (inaudible 03:40) because I was completely unaware of it at that age. And I think combined with that, around that time, there was a a national campaign against a company called ICI that worked that time, but they were they were using beagles and smoking experiments. And that outraged me and I took a petition to school, and I think that was the spark that then came to life later in my later teenage years.

Maureen Armstrong:

Excellent. It’s so interesting how it starts for for people, right? And very often it is in childhood, the the real interest in animal welfare. So you find yourself now at World Animal Protection, can you tell the listeners a little bit about the organization and I I of course, I’m, I’m a huge supporter of it. I’m, I’m a board member for the World Animal Protection Canada, but for the purposes of our our listeners, if you can give an overview of our organization.

Steve McIvor:

Sure. Yes, the organization has been around for something like 55 years. We’re always having a debate about whether we’re 50, 55 or 60. So we usually go for the age in the middle because it was actually it was actually sort of formed out of two other organizations quite a long time ago and was known as WSPA, the World Society for the Protection of Animals. And I think many people still know us by that name, but we rebranded a few years ago as World Animal Protection. We have offices in 14 countries including Canada of course and and important countries from an animal welfare point of view. So countries like India, like Brazil, like China, which are really the places where the issues of animal welfare are becoming most, most serious as we look into the future. We employ just under 400 people and we are probably one of, I think only two animal welfare organizations that have what’s called general consultative status with the United Nations. So that gives us access of course to many of the very important forums where discussions about issues like climate change, sustainable developments, what have you take place.

Maureen Armstrong:

Yeah, I was in in reaching out to you, I thought there’s so many subjects associated with animal welfare that that we could talk about and, and ultimately landed in speaking to you. We’re on for today focusing in on the issue of farmed animals and World Animal Protection estimates, I guess, about 70 billion animals, farmed animals are consumed every year so this is just one massive area of focus. And of course as the as the human population continues to grow, the consumption of animals seems to be on the rise. And so I’m wondering if just to start this subject, if you could kind of give us a bird’s eye view of the farmed animal industry globally and where some of the key concerns about that are?

Steve McIvor:

Yes, certainly, and and use the right word there, industry, it very much is an industry. And I would say, unfortunately, that the the industrial side of farming, so what we would call industrial farming or factory farming, is a system which really treats animals as little more than commodities, they are really stripped of their individuality. And and that’s a trend that has developed really since the Second World War. So you know farming has been transformed in a in a negative way over the last sort of 60, 70 years. If you look at the the big issues, I think most people are aware of, of course, caged hens being used to produce eggs as a sort of what we call battery caged system, which has been outlawed now in some parts of the world. But, you know, don’t worry, there are other parts of the world where people are coming with other versions of battery cages. In fact, in places like China, we’re now seeing multi-stacked systems with cages on top of cages even for broiler hens, which are sort of meat production birds rather than egg production birds.

Maureen Armstrong:

Wow. Wow.

Steve McIvor:

So you know that industrial use of of hens for for egg production is is one big issue, though it started to shift. Broiler hens, people obviously usually associate hens with with cages and eggs, but actually the the the birds that you will get on on the table when you have chicken or even turkey will in most cases and in most parts of the world gone through an industrial system. And that means they have a very short you know life, they’re reared in often very crowded indoor conditions, they very often have no natural light even from windows sheds. And these birds are not really the same birds that you would have seen on the farm yard or or even outdoors on a free range system. You know, these birds have been genetically manipulated over time to become faster growing, more efficient in their conversion of of their of food into into the sort of body weight into fat and meat. And and of course they can be killed which much younger, so if I was to compare a bird from the 1960s for instance and say this is a bird that’s four weeks old and put one off today next to it, the the one next to it would look like a giant against the dwarf. So that’s the broiler system. And we then have of course cattle, and particularly, we tend to think mostly in Europe, certainly we tend to think mostly about the dairy cow, although the biggest, the the largest number of cows in the world are actually kept in India where there’s something like 16 million, you know, cows, and some of those are very much free range. But, but is, it is a big industry in India. And elsewhere in the world, it’s become again an increasingly industrialized intensive system where, where the dairy cow that you obviously often think of wandering along eating pasture outdoors is now living its life completely indoors, in stalls, and being often robotically milked, so not even milked by the human hand so the numbers of animals are concentrated. And the way that those animals are treated of course is is therefore much more as if it’s a unit of production. Although I’m not saying that all all farmers of course don’t try to provide welfare and and welfare enrichment for those animals. But it’s, it’s really impossible to do in in systems that are innately wrong for the animals themselves.

Maureen Armstrong:

I mean your reference to the chickens is so obvious even in, you know, you go to a grocery store, I look at packaged chicken breasts now and it’s this behemoth thing in comparison to what it used to be. We also have the tendency at least in a lot of the Western countries to sanitize the, sanitize the displays of of animal proteins to minimize people’s recollection that these are actual animals and sentient beings. And they have distinct characteristics, behaviors, personalities. Maybe you can help enlighten us and remind us a little bit about what these animals are like. So so it may be I’m I’m happy to start anywhere, but maybe we start let’s start with pigs because they’re one of those animals that a there’s a lot of consumption of them, but they also are pets for some people. But can you tell us a little bit about about them?

Steve McIvor:

Of course, yes. Well, if you look at the sort of positive side, I’m actually remembering from when I was probably my very early 20s, I I went to volunteer for a while at a an animal sanctuary place called Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Somerset, in the West Country in the UK. And there, the sanctuary manager said to me, actually I’ll tell you what you can do to be helpful. You can go and take this apple and feed it to kinky over there, the pig. But let me just warn you, she she she she has a sense of humor I thought, a pig with a sense of humor. Okay, so I I went out, I put my hand out with the apple. And it’s a very large pig. She was originally meant to be an industrial system, but ended up on a sanctuary (inaudible 13:21). And she was she was big. And she took her snout and she put her snout over the apple and was fine. And then she put her snout a bit further up my arm. And then she kept going until she was almost up to my elbow at which point I was mildly terrified. She then just looked at me, withdrew, took the apple, wandered off. And I went back and said to to John, sanctuary manager afterwards, was that idea of a jerk? And he said, absolutely, yeah. She, she was playing with you. They, they’re fantastic animals. They’re curious. They’re intelligent. They, they’re often compared to dogs in terms of their intelligence, some would say more so. And for anyone who hasn’t spent time with a pig, they play football, they play tag. They, they’re just curious and excitable and and wonderful creatures. In in a natural environment, if they were living freely, they’d live for something like 15 to 20 years. They build nests and they root for their food, you know. So they’re like, they’re like humans. They’re mobile dustbins in many ways that lead to all sorts of things. But if you put, you know, one of those pigs, exactly the same breed as as kinky, and you looked at the life of that pig in an industrial system, you know, she would live at most for six months, not 15 to 20 years. She would very often be in a very barren environment in which (inaudible 14:52) to play with, no ropes or chains. Sometimes there is enrichments thankfully in in the better systems. She would live on a slatted floor. She would very likely not see the outdoor world. And of course, if it’s a female that’s being used for breeding purposes and she might live longer as a female for breeding purposes rather than a fattening pig. She she might be kept for two or three years. Then she will have a lot of that time in a in what is basically a metal crate either for farrowing or for gestation where she gives birth to the piglets. So you can’t compare, you know, the environments and the way these these pigs are treated, but it’s the same animal. It’s the same animal. And that’s the thing that we often forget, you know, when we, when we look at these issues.

Maureen Armstrong:

Yeah. This is a fascinating story in a in a good juxtaposition of what the animal is, like, in its natural if it’s given a more natural environment to be in, in comparison to what what is going on unfortunately now, which would as you indicated earlier be different from perhaps what the farming practices would have been say 100 years ago. That’s, that’s fascinating. So chickens, I actually don’t know much about the the sort of the behaviors of chickens. Tell us a little bit about them?

Steve McIvor:

Well, chickens, I used to, I’ve lived with lots of animals for years. I I did many years ago also live with chickens wondering about they are out in in natural setting, they’ll live for 5 to 10 years. They again have a much more extended life than a bird that is kept in a boiler system or in an egg laying system. They love to just bathe. They go out and kick up the the dust. They often dig themselves into the ground a little bit and make it what they call a dust bath. And people think that that might be why they are doing that, you know, don’t they get dirty, but actually it helps to clean their wings and and helps to clear parasites off the off the wings. They, you’ll often see them it’s a bit like spar time, it’s a sunny day, you know, the chickens are out, and they all go off and and make dust baths together, you know, that is sort of sitting there bathing in the sun as if it was a spa having a conversation with each other. They, they also have a very strict hierarchy so we often refer to there being a pecking order in the world. Well, that actually comes from hens because hens do have a hierarchy. You know, there’s the rooster, and there’s top rooster and other roosters. There’s the the the group of hens that live with that male bird and that can be up to 12 usually, and yeah, they’re just great, rooting around and finding their food and getting on with life. If you put them in an industrial system, it’s different. Yes. No dust bathing, no sun. But you know, I should be fair and say, you know, we’re comparing, I’m comparing here an industrial indoor system to and and often the worst types to the natural existence. You know, free range systems of course are operated by many farmers and organic standard systems. Those are much better. You know, animals will get many of the freedoms. They will get to exhibit many of their behaviors. But of course, they still have shorter lives and they still have to deal with some degree of compromise. But you know, on that scale, you really want to push towards if you want to be you need to push towards those higher welfare systems.

Maureen Armstrong:

There’s a, there’s a humane sort of farm not too far from where I am in in Muskoka in Ontario. And that family do have chickens, have free range chickens. They also have chickens as pets. So there are some chickens who will wander in the house and watch television with them which is, you know, quite fascinating to see. So the the other one that the the that is large in the farming industry obviously is cattle. What can you tell us about them?

Steve McIvor:

Yeah, so now we get that difference between North Americans and Europeans playing through this cattle we see. I automatically tend to think beef cattle or dairy cows. And yeah, so the dairy the dairy cow is what I assume you probably met and yeah, I mean, again, that’s an industry as I as I said earlier that is increasingly coming indoors. Yeah. One of the nicest moments that tells you a lot about the dairy cow. You know, for me, one of the nicest moments is when dairy cows are let out to pasture. So of course, they’re often kept indoors during the worst weather over winter and then they’re let out in the spring when the grass is is is rich green, and you know, the cows are kicked out. If you go on YouTube and put in something like dancing cows, and you will see footage of cows racing out into the fields, leaping up and down, running around each other with absolute joy. It’s wonderful. And for me those images capture, you know, what a cow is about, you know, she, she loves to be outdoors, she loves to roam around and have grass. Cows bond very much with certain other cows, so they have best mates and they have that cow I don’t like over there. And outdoors, they can hang out with their friends and they can avoid the ones that they don’t get on with a bit like us in our worlds. In an industrial system, they don’t have that opportunity. And very often there’s, there’s tension. And there’s, you know, damage caused and lots of stress for cows who are forced to live a bit like we’ve been forced to do it in some ways through this sort of period of COVID often in situations that we don’t like, and in some cases, unfortunately for people, (inaudible 21:12) pleased to say with people that we tactically like, so yeah, dairy cows are also very different today from from the way they were. And one of the problems with dairy cows is that of course, you know, they are engineered to produce as much milk as possible as efficiently as possible and that has led to lots of problems with mastitis, which is a problem they will have with the in the teats from that the milking process. And they also have problems often with their their feet again because they’re carrying too much weight. They have problems with stress. And of course, they they just don’t have that rich life that they deserve. Can I say one more thing what’s special about dairy cows? Partly because I think cows are often forgotten, but the really forgotten part of the dairy industry or the male dairy calves. You know, people, it’s amazing. You know, you when people ask where does milk come from, go and do a survey in Canada, and you’ll you’ll get some, I’m sure, like the UK and elsewhere, disturbing results where people say either a bottle or a carton, a supermarket, it’s made somewhere in a factory. Or for those who know it comes from cows, they just think the cow produces it. You know, to produce milk, of course the cow is made pregnant if she has a calf. If she has a female calf, that calf has a chance of course going into the the dairy system. If she has a male calf, in many parts of the world that is an unproductive animal and it is killed at one day old, which is an appalling practice that in my view should be absolutely outlawed and that’s the price that that the cow pays.

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Maureen Armstrong:

Hi everyone, it’s Maureen, host of the animal guide. How are you enjoying the show so far? I’d love to hear from you, get your questions and comments, and perhaps guest recommendations if you have them. Please contact me at theanimalguide.com. And now back to our interview. We’re just reading about this more recently. It’s astounding the the young age at which they are slaughtered the male the male calves. And I don’t think many people are aware of that. You know, they’re they’re eating up the veal but not realizing exactly what the dynamic is that’s that’s going on there. Yeah. That’s very rich. I appreciate you sharing the the kind of detail about them all. I think, I think as beef cattle are concerned, some portion now there is some confinement to no expert, but there’s some certainly some confinement in that industry as well. There’s also a lot have has historically been a lot of challenges relating to what they’re fed. And again, it’s all about trying to get as much beef as possible and so their their their overfed grains and things that are not really a a natural part of their their diet. Yeah.

Steve McIvor:

That’s absolutely right. And I think there’s a piece that, understandably, you know, is not so well known is that is the question about where does that grain come from? And, you know, very often that grain is coming from places like Brazil and often it’s the production of some of those, that grain those crops that are used in industrial farming that is causing deforestation in the Amazon. In fact, you know, it’s as best to make sure that about 70% of all the deforestation that’s taking place in the Amazon is is as a result of meat production either directly or for the greater use to those systems. So, you know, there are really strong interrelationships between the way that we produce our food today and and the scale on which we produce it and the grain that we use and and the planetary crisis that we’re facing, you know, with with with climate change that of course, is affecting people through heat domes or floods or or many other problems that are coming to light.

Maureen Armstrong:

Yeah. Animals play such a critical role in in in the whole environmental issue as well. These two things go very much hand in hand, don’t they? Yeah, you’ve indicated along the way, I think it’s true that the, these farming practices are relatively new and animals have been domesticated for human consumption for millennia, but the the the cruelty piece, a significant portion of the the the cruelty of farmed animals is really, it’s it’s just decades old at this point.

Steve McIvor:

It is. It it was it was, in a sense it was understandable in the beginning because it was born out of World War II and you know there were food shortages, there were fears about sustainability of supply of cheap food around the world. And so an industrialization process took place, it started in the US and then it spread from the United States out into Europe and and of course is is traveling still around the world, I can promise you in on industrial farms in in China in the last sort of two or three years and seeing the same system a huge scale that literally is being built. So it started there. And the motivation behind it, I think was was a good motivation. But of course, over time what’s happened is that the industry has remained focused on on high levels of production and very cheap food, artificially cheap food because it doesn’t take account of the wider impacts. And of course, it’s massively subsidized by governments and Europe alone has the Common Agricultural Policy that that just hugely, you know, subsidizes inefficient farming. So we need to shift that economic model and and really understand the true cost of meat production in those systems and try to move to and invest in sustainable, higher welfare farming practices in the future.

Maureen Armstrong:

Yeah, yeah, that’s great. Well, and and so we can shift now having sort of talked quite a bit about where the real problems lie in looking at what some of the solutions might be. And, you know, I’ve got to start obviously with a recognition that, that the number of people globally who are moving to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle has increased. It continues to increase by all accounts. I don’t know anyone who’s who’s done a lot of detailed data study on it, but the figures seem to be that somewhere in the neighborhood of about 8% of the world’s population would identify as being either vegan, vegetarian or a combination of those two. And that’s great and we can expect that that will continue to grow because there are a lot of there’s a growing awareness about the problems with industrial animal farming. But even if it continues to grow, we’re still looking at a massive percentage of the human population who consume animal products. So we can’t rely only on seeing people shift to a vegan or vegetarian diet to solve the problem of of of animal suffering in in the farming industry. So let’s start thinking about and talking about solutions. And obviously, World Animal Protection is very focused on that. What are some of the initiatives that WAP is working on right now around animals in farming?

Steve McIvor:

Yes, you you’re absolutely right. And I mean, just put a statistic behind the challenge in front of us. Certainly, the last United Nations report that I saw looking at global meat production said that despite veganism, vegetarianism, and (inaudible 29:45), the expectation is that global meat production will increase by something like 75, 76% by 2050 which is which is a pretty shocking, you know, statistic. Now, that figure may have improved in the last sort of 3, 4, 5 years as we’ve seen a real growth in in veganism and meat reduction. But when you look at how the world is is is struggling to cope with farming and its current scale, that’s quite a shocking picture. Now, you you may also think, well, how can that be, but the answer to that of course is is the growth of countries like China and and India who are going down the same path so I think we need to do a number of things. I mean, number one, we absolutely have to drive a a legislative shift away from the worst systems. And I was encouraged very recently in the last few weeks when the European Commission and the European Parliament agreed to support the end to what we call the cage age across Europe. So they are now looking at the commission has committed to coming forward with legislation by the end of 2023 that will look to phase out all cages from all farms across the European Union and that’s huge. If that happens, that will be a huge change. It has to go through quite a few stages, but the the signs are good that that Europe by 2030 may be very different in terms of farming practice or the worst end of it. It might be, you know, we need to see more of those sorts of initiatives taking place in different parts of the world. So let’s let’s ban the most appalling systems. I I think secondly, yes, as an organization, you know, we’re pushing for investment into plant based eating or the developments of alternatives, alternative proteins. Some of those of course are based on animal cells, but they’re replicated and replicated and replicated without more live animals being used, so you can have a burger or a sausage, you know, whatever it may be without ongoing animal suffering. But a product that is very is the same product and is hopefully every time going to be comparable in price. There are other alternatives that are also being developed, you know, that don’t use animal cells, but are and are being funded often by actually many of the tech companies, foundations, and billionaires and trillionaires in in places like Silicon Valley who have really got a taste for, you know, this issue. So I do believe that those those alternative proteins that have been developed could make a substantial and quite possibly the biggest difference to feeding people, feeding people well, feeding people cheaply, and reducing hugely the numbers of animals. So as an organization, we’re focused, one of our, our big goals of the next 10 years is to is to really tackle that system around food, you know, the food system itself to close down the worst systems to, you know, support and encourage better farming practice, to encourage investors from, from a financial sector and individuals to fund alternative proteins and cell based alternatives. And and I think for all of us as individuals eat less meat.

Maureen Armstrong:

That’s a very key piece of it, isn’t it? But you’re so right, I was this, this, the growth of the cultivated meat industry and the plant based meat substitute as they seem to call it where it’s designed to be like a meat to similar flavor and texture and yet is was 100% plant based. This is just moving and growing leaps and bounds right now, which is exciting to see. The cultivated meat seems to be a little bit like it’s it’s such early stages, it’s not as readily accessible to the average person yet, but one can see that that’s going to happen very soon. And the upside to some of the folks say and, you know, really as you say, these, there’s some very, very wealthy people out there who are big supporters of this and and they will hopefully use some of their financial resources to help make it more accessible and faster to the to the rest of the world.

Steve McIvor:

Absolutely. And and they’re doing it because number one, they want to make money. You know, these are people who are wealthy and they see an investment opportunity here. Two, it it it helps with animal welfare and three, it helps with the planet. And so, you know, I think we could do worse than have a look at where they’re investing their money to to get a sense of what the future looks like. I think the cultivated meat, the challenge there you know will be regulators and and and passing the regulatory tests and the the sense that I’ve heard many people say as consumers, you know, I want to eat something that comes out of a out of a test tube. I don’t know (inaudible 35:01) think, think about what you are eating and think about what they could eat.

Maureen Armstrong:

Yeah. It’s a great point well, and also to get to get people even to, to appreciate the authentic taste of certain meats because what they’re eating if it’s commercially farmed, which most of what people consume is with the with the antibiotics with the way that the animals are fed, the life experience that they’re having, the flavor is actually quite different than humanely raised animal even now. So, you know, there’s there’s pieces of the puzzle in here. But it’s it’s it’s encouraging to see the growth of of these two, two areas, the plant based meat alternatives and the cultivated meat. You you referenced the the recent change from the European Commission. Are there any other, you know, at a country level or a regional level any other initiatives or legislation that you are finding particularly compelling at this point in time that that others should be watching?

Steve McIvor:

Yeah, I think there are, there are more and more examples of of changes that are taking place. I think the European Union says the most impressive if it comes to into being, but you know, you could even look at a country like Denmark, actually they’ve recently passed a piece of legislation recognizing sentience in animals, which is so the European Union recognized, but actually Denmark did not. You know, their states are a bit independent, still keeping their own currency as well. But, you know, they’re coming into line because the the British government now the UK has come out of Europe is that is actually updating its animal welfare legislation. And I was at a a briefing by the the Minister a few weeks ago before they announced the news, which they walked through with myself, many of the animal welfarists their plans. And there’s some really strong elements to that including stopping live exports of of animals, it’s a subject I didn’t touch on earlier, but it’s a huge issue. Also, against strengthening legislation, we would expect them to end the use of cages also in the UK and you know legislation across other fronts in terms of animals as well and of course sentience. When the UK left Europe, it lost that piece of legislation on sentience, they’re going to bring that back in. We’re hoping that they will also apply that more broadly to include things like (inaudible 37:37) folks. So there’s there’s lots of stuff that if you look across countries like China, can’t talk so much about animal welfare legislation particularly but there is other helpful legislation or direction coming from from from President (inaudible 37:57) such as, you know, China is committing and pushing its people to reduce dramatically the amount of meat that’s been eaten over the next 20, 30 years. They also banned the consumption of wild that meat from our wild animals, conflict what triggered that. So there is stuff happening in many places. And of course, companies of course are taking initiatives themselves. So companies like Unilever have been I think one of the pioneering companies. KFC in the UK have just improved the standards in their supply chains, not globally. So if you’re going to a KFC in Canada or in the US, I would say don’t, get on a plane, go to the UK, even better, go and buy (inaudible 38:44).

Maureen Armstrong:

It is very interesting how how some of these global brands have very distinct practices nation to nation or region to region. So one’s got to watch when you’re reading something, it could be great, it’s great news that KFC is there where they are with in the UK per se, but I know that they’re not here in Canada, they just don’t have the same standards and that they’re applying so. From your lens, if you’re just the average person out there and you’re saying that, hey, I want to be part of a a better solution, what are just throw out some ideas or recommendations, what would you recommend to your your neighbor who says I’m I’m interested in in being more conscientious around animal welfare in the farming industry?

Steve McIvor:

In the farming side, the first thing to look at it is your eating choices, you know, look for either go to a strict vegetarian diet, vegan or vegetarian. Or if that’s too much, go to a program of of reducing the amount of meat it’s called a reduction area. And by the way, if you want to go there, but if you want to be really wild, be a fruitarian, I do not know what they live on, but just fruit folks. So.

Maureen Armstrong:

Wow.

Steve McIvor:

So, yeah, I’m not sure how long they live, but but you know, you can, you can reduce significantly amount of meat that you consume that makes a real difference. The other thing that you can do outside of your personal choices is of course to contact food companies, food service companies like KFC or Subway or McDonald’s or or or supermarkets and ask them to improve their welfare standards, ask them to stop taking eggs from hens that are in, in caged systems for instance. You know, they do listen, they listen to the pound or the dollar, and they and they listen to the consumer. I think I think beyond that, obviously you can support organizations like ours either voluntarily or through taking actions. You know, if I drifted away from farming for a moment, the sorts of things I would think about would be, you know, a strange one. But when you go on holiday, if you’re going to a destination like Thailand for instance, don’t go on the elephant ride because, you know, elephants, when they’re very young are are broken in, in order to be compliant to do those elephant rides and breaking them it’s called, it’s called something called the crushing. It’s extremely painful for those young elephants. It’s not worth, it’s not worth the price of a ride or or a photograph. So there there are things we can do on the farming front, there are things we can do more broadly. You know, we all have more power than we think. And of course, you can of course join our organization in Canada or or elsewhere as well.

Maureen Armstrong:

And as you say, you know, the the that we have more power than we think, it includes the the one of the wonders of living in the modern era with social media is each individual has a capacity to share their points of view out to others much in a much more accessible manner than ever existed before. And so you’re right, you know, being able to share your point of view, look, I’m, I’ve chosen not to go to such and such a restaurant or I asked the restaurant about their practices and this is what I’ve learned. We have a platform as individuals to share that information out. So it’s it’s what I call the decide and declare, make some decisions about what you will accept and not accept, and then tell the world that that’s what you’re doing. And tell those companies that that’s what you’re doing because as you say, they they are more responsive the more people they hear from who say, we’re not willing to accept certain standards that that they’re applying, so I think that’s fantastic. I can’t wait for another time for you and I’d have a chat because, you know, World Animal Protection has such a wealth of knowledge in so many areas of animal welfare including, you know, as you’ve talked about as animals as entertainers, elephants, in particular, the whole wildlife trade is a is a massive initiative for the organization at the moment as well. So hopefully there’ll be a, well there will be if you agree we’ll do this again sometime soon and continue the dialogue. In the meantime, can you tell the listeners where to find out more information about World Animal Protection and and about you, any social media you want to let them know about?

Steve McIvor:

Oh, about me in social media. Our communications team are forever trying to make me do more on that side, but the organization itself absolutely you can from wherever you are in the world you can go to worldanimalprotection.org and worldanimalprotection.org is is that represents the international organization and from there, you can actually go to the Canada sides, the US side Thailand, China, whichever team you want to connect with and obviously the one that makes sense to you in terms of support, activity, donation, whatever it may be. We also have a very lively Instagram account. And all you have to do is look at World Animal Protection on Instagram. If you really want to connect with me, then you could find me on on Twitter as well. I’m told I’ve got a thing called the Twitter handle, but Maureen I cannot remember for the life of me what it is, so if you just look up on Twitter World Animal Protection or CEO at World Animal Protection I think is what it’s cool. So you’ll find me there anyway and say hello.

Maureen Armstrong:

Yeah, shall do. Well I’m actually evolved the social media. Twitter is not my favorite. But and I can attest the World Animal Protection Instagram site is is is terrific. And the visuals, even the website, there’s some really wonderful photography that the organization uses and for those who are worried about it because in the animal welfare space, there’s a lot of shocking images. And I know we generally try to minimize that a little bit and which I find very helpful because as as someone who is in this space, I actually have difficulty seeing some of the images that get advertised, so so don’t worry about being blasted with horrendous images, folks. Please feel free to go on the websites. They’re really actually very good. Thank you again. Is there anything else you wish I had asked you and I didn’t, there are any, anything else you want to share at this point?

Steve McIvor:

No. I have I have really enjoyed the conversation Maureen. Thank you and thank you for the support for animals and for our organization. And, you know, as you say, I actually am just like you strange given the jobs I do, but I really struggle with with with some of the tough images that you have to deal with. So we find a a a nice balance. And and one final point. If you love bears, folks, you can actually go and visit a webcam and you can watch the bears hanging out at the pool in Romania or some sanctuary with our partner organization. And that’s a good breakout found during COVID lockdown that to think what a great life those bears have with our donors support. So we do bears wildlife, farming, and look forward to to working with people who have listened to this program and look forward to talking to you again soon.

Maureen Armstrong:

Yeah, me too. You take care. All the best.

Steve McIvor:

Take care. Bye.

Maureen Armstrong:

Bye.

[music]

Thanks again to Steve for coming on the show and imparting all that useful information about this important topic. On our next episode, we are going to build on today’s show by putting together several helpful tips around consumption of animal products can really help address the animal cruelty crisis that currently exists in the factory farming system. You won’t want to miss it. I appreciate you tuning in. I hope you will subscribe to the podcast and share it with others. For show notes, other valuable information, and to leave me your comments, please go to theanimalguide.com. Also, if you have any ideas for future episodes, I welcome hearing about them. As always, many thanks to the team at podmotion.co for their production assistance. Until next time, all the best to you and the animals in your life.

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