OTTAWA—Data released by the federal government and analyzed by Animal Justice shows that over 800 million farmed animals were killed in Canadian slaughterhouses last year. This record-breaking figure is a steady increase over previous years, up from 771 million in 2016 and 750 million in 2015.
The growth is largely because Canadians are switching to chicken and away from beef and pork because of health concerns. Chickens are much smaller animals, so it takes many more of them to meet the demand for meat previously absorbed by larger cows and pigs.
However, a large body of evidence demonstrates that diets rich in animal foods and low in plant-based foods have negative health consequences. Predominantly plant-based diets that include legumes (such as beans, lentils, and tofu) are associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and obesity, and with increased longevity.
In 2016—the most recent year for which data is available—Canadians consumed 87.56 kilograms of meat per capita (this figure includes food waste). Globally, according to the OECD, this number is only 34.3 kilograms. The OECD also points out that the global meat industry “has significant environmental and health consequences for the planet.”
Paradoxically, the number of vegans and people choosing to consume less meat continues to grow, especially among young people.
“As Canadians become more aware of the negative impacts of the meat industry on animal welfare, the environment, and our own health, our first step is often to replace red meats with chicken,” said lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “However, many don’t realize that this trend is actually worse for animals. Since chickens are so small, it takes many more of them to satisfy our intense demand for inexpensive meat. On modern Canadian farms, chickens endure heartbreaking cruelty from birth to death. Genetically selected to grow so quickly, many become lame, separated from their families, confined indoors for their entire lives, and ultimately killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan.”
For more information, contact:
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
Join the Animal Justice mailing list