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The Humane Eating Project was developed by America For Animals, a registered 503(c) non-profit.

Thank you to the 150 supporters who donated to make this possible! We especially thank these volunteers who have donated many hours of time and these Founding Members:

Monika Gorkani
Mangala Savadi
Heather Zupin
Jenny Karkoska
Jon & Darina Bockman
John & Abby Devine
Doug Taylor
Tower Plaza Acupuncture
Tim & Himne Drees
Ling Hao
Arthi Palaniapan
Jaebin Lee
Divya Jain
Stephanie Medlin
Gabriela Zago (marketing)
Jamie Miller
Sonali Agrawal
David Strickland
Heather Laurin


 

The term "humane eating"

Humane eating is eating food that is Vegan, Vegetarian or Humanely Raised.

A humane eater is concerned about how animals are treated in our factory farm food system. As a humane eater, you are making a choice to stop creating demand for cruel food.

We aren’t trying to police restaurants or apply strict definitions of humane at this time. Our goal is more modest: to simply map out where humane options are and promote restaurants that are trying to do the right thing.

How do restaurants get included?

All Vegan and Vegetarian restaurants can be included.

Any restaurant that offers a vegan or vegetarian menu can be included. These restaurants are "Veg Friendly" restaurants.

Any meat-serving restaurant that has one or more options clearly identified as Humanely Raised can be included. These are called "Humane Friendly" restaurants. In-store signage about the restaurant's humane sourcing policies qualify it for inclusion.

Can restaurants misuse the term?

Restaurants use variations of the term: Humane, Humanely Raised, Humanely Treated etc.. While it is possible that the term might get misused, the vast majority of these restaurants are committed to doing the right thing.

In future versions of the app, we plan to highlight restaurants that are sourcing from humane certified farms accredited by Global Animal Partnership (GAP), Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), or Certified Humane. These organizations have the highest standards for animal welfare and perform audit to verify that their standards are met. It is important to note that even the highest standards do not cover all animal welfare issues. While they are a tremendous improvement, they do not mean the animal lived an entirely free of cruelty. The most humane option is always vegan.

What about other terms like "Free Range", "Organic" or "Cage-Free"

Some of these terms indicate small improvements in the treatment of farm animals, but none amount to a cruelty free life. Many of these terms address only one issue of animal welfare. For example, cage-free chickens will not be in cages, but may still face overcrowding and beak trimming in large, warehouse like factories. There is no third party auditing to verify most of these terms. For a great guide on all animal product labels, visit the HSUS’s website:
Meat & Dairy Labels
Egg Labels

The issues with food

Below is a summary of issues that animals face in typical factory farm production methods. Farms that are third party humane certified have rid themselves of most of these cruel practices.

Please see content warning below.

Warning:

While we have done our best to use a neutral tone and avoid graphic language as much as possible, the nature of the issues can still be shocking and overwhelming. There are no graphic pictures in this app, nor or there any at the web pages we link to. We recommend reading about the issues slowly and at your own pace. Be proud of yourself for learning more about where your food comes from. This awareness is a major step in humane eating.

Chickens (Broiler)

Confinement & crowding

Broiler chickens on factory farms are raised overcrowded warehouses, often with less than half of a square foot of space to live their entire lives. This intense confinement leads to conflict amongst the birds.

Beak trimming

Workers cut off part of the bird’s beak to prevent them from injuring other birds. This impairs their ability to eat, drink, and preen. Beak trimming is not necessary to prevent conflict if adequate space and enrichment is provided.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are wildly overused on factory farms to prevent illness caused by unsanitary conditions of the environment. In the USA, about 80% of all antibiotics used on healthy farm animals. The overuse of antibiotics leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “super bugs.”

Unnatural size and sleep

As long as the lights are on, chickens will stay awake and eat. Factory farms house chickens in buildings that are lit 24/7. The light causes the chickens to eat continuously to gain weight rapidly. Such rapid weight gain causes leg abnormalities and can be fatal.

Rapid growth and life span

Chickens on factory farms are designed to grow fast and quickly for maximum efficiency. A chicken’s natural lifespan is 5-8 years, but the standard chicken today is killed after 35-49 days

Transport

Most animals are not killed on the farms where they were raised. They must be transported to slaughterhouses, which are usually several states away. During the trip the animals are typically kept in dark trucks without adequate space, food, or water.

Slaughter

Poultry is not included in the Humane Slaughter Act and there are no other federal protections for poultry. You can imagine the cruelty this allows. We will spare you the details.

Chickens (Eggs)

Confinement and crowding

Most egg-laying hens are kept in severely restrictive cages that prohibit most natural behaviors, including spreading their wings.

What happens to the chicks?

Warning: Sad

In the past, female chickens were used for eggs and male chickens were used for poultry. Today, different breeds are used for each purpose. This results in billions of unwanted male chicks. Follow the link for details on how the egg industry solves this problem. The facts are shocking. We are providing a Wiklipedia link because of the neutral tone and there are no pictures at the site. Wikipedia - Chick Culling

Starvation (Molting)

Hens are starved for 7-14 days to induce molting. This increases egg production and quality.

Overproduction and life span

The average life span of an egg laying hens is 5-8 years. Because hens on factory farms are overworked to produce more eggs, they are considered “spent” after 1-2 years.

Cows (Beef)

 
 
 
 

Confinement

Cows are confined in overcrowded feed lots, often with concrete floors and pens to fatten them up. This causes foot, leg problems and aggression.

Feed

Warning: Gross

Although most farm animals are designed to eat grass, what they are actual fed varies depend on cost, efficiency, and effect on flavor. Ingredients fed to animals include corn, soy, candy, other animals (including cows), animal waste, and antibiotics.

Dehorning

At most factory farms, workers cut off the cows’ horns without pain control. Dehorning is a painful procedure, especially for older animals.

Castration

Beef cattle castration is extremely painful and typically carried out without any pain medication at most factory farms.

Branding

Branding is done without anesthesia. A fire hot iron, designed in the shape of the farm's logo, is placed on the skin of the animal to create an identifying mark. Branding is not necessary because there are other forms of identification.

Hormones

Hormones are commonly used to speed growth in beef production. Their use by both the beef and dairy industries is associated with animal welfare problems.

Slaughter

Warning: Some graphic language

Although the Humane Slaughter Act requires cattle and pigs to be unconscious before they are killed, the act is largely unenforced and there are several loopholes. Many problems occur due to the size of the slaughterhouse. Because so many animals are processed in such a short time, mistakes are made. Mistakes include animals going though the process alive, worker injuries, and contamination by e. Coli or other bacteria.

Cows (Dairy)

Tail docking

Some dairy cows have more than half of their tails removed, usually without anesthesia. Tail docking is very painful and makes it difficult for cows to fend off flies.

Hormones

Hormones are used to make cows produce more milk (up to 4 times as much as they would naturally produce). This can cause painful inflammation of the udders. Hormones in dairy products have been linked to health problems in humans.

Overproduction and life span

Like egg-laying hens, dairy cows have much shorter lives because they are overworked. A cow’s natural lifespan is twenty-five years. Most cows in the dairy industry live only four or five years

What happens to the babies?

Warning: Sad

Cows produce milk naturally to feed their young. To ensure the cows keep producing milk, workers impregnate them every year. Calves are taken from their mothers within a day of being born. Female calves are used for dairy (like their mothers). Male calves are used for veal.

See the Watch List section for more information about Veal.

Overproduction and life span

Like egg laying hens, being overworked greatly shortens a dairy cow’s lifespan. A cow’s natural lifespan is 25 years. Most cows in the dairy industry only live to be 4 or 5.

Pigs

 
 
 
 
 

Confinement and gestation crates

Pregnant sows are kept in crates with no room to turn around. Because sows give birth frequently, they may spend most of their lives in these crates.

Gestation crates have gained a lot of media attention and are prohibited by all humane certifications as well as a handful of states. Many restaurants have pledged to not use pork from farms that use gestation crates.

Feed

Warning: Gross

Although most farm animals are designed to eat grass, what they are actual fed varies depend on cost, efficiency, and effect on flavor. Ingredients fed to animals include corn, soy, candy, other animals, animal waste, and antibiotics.

Tail docking

To prevent the pigs from biting the tails of other pig, workers remove their tails. This is a painful process that results in chronic, long term pain. This is unnecessary because most pigs will not tail bite if they are provided with adequate enrichment.

Nose rings

Pigs have a very strong instinct to root in the ground. Workers put nose rings on pigs to prevent them from digging up pasture. Nose rings cause pain and prevent pigs from performing a strong behavioral need.

Ear notching

Workers sometimes cut pigs’ ears to mark them for identification. This causes pain and distress. Ear notching is unnecessary because other suitable forms of identification, such as tags and tattoos, are less invasive.

Castration without pain control

Workers castrate male pigs without anesthesia or pain medication. This causes extreme pain initially and lingering trauma for several days.

Extreme heat

Pigs can’t sweat. They cool off by wallowing in mud and water. The evaporation of the water promotes cooling while the mud shades their skin. They can overheat if workers do not allow them to wallow.

Life span

Pigs can live up to fifteen years, but most pigs on factory farms are killed after six months.

Turkeys

Overcrowding and confinement

On factory farms, turkeys are housed in windowless warehouses with little ventilation. Each female bird is given fewer than two-and-a-half square feet of space, each male bird fewer than four feet.

Procedures without pain control

Workers clip the beaks, toes, and waddles of turkeys to prevent them from injuring each other in their crowded living spaces. Each of these practices is unnecessary and prohibited by most humane certifications.

Unnatural growth

To meet demand for turkey meat, factory farms have forced turkeys to balloon in size. Wild turkeys weigh 5-18 pounds. A domesticated turkey in 1960 weighed 16 pounds. Today, the average turkey weighs 29 pounds. Some turkeys are genetically modified to grow faster. They grow so quickly that their bodies can’t keep up. This causes several health problems for the turkeys. Their joints are swollen and their legs are crippled from supporting their own weight; their hearts can’t keep up with the rapid growth; they are too heavy to fly.

Sheep/Lamb

Castration

Most male lambs are castrated to prevent breeding, aid fattening, and reduce aggression. This is usually done without anesthetic.

Tail docking

Lambs typically have their tails removed. This is done to prevent feces from building up around the tail, which would lead to lesions and infections from flies. Tail docking is not necessary with proper management.

Mulesing

Mulesing is when sections of skin around the tail of sheep are removed. It is performed on sheep that produce wool to prevent lesions and infections from flies. This is usually done without anesthetic. The use of temporary pain control is becoming more common, but is not enough. The procedure is not necessary, as alternatives exist.

Mulesing is mostly performed in Australia; however, many US retailers import Australian wool. Some progress is being made. A number of companies have urged Australia to end mulesing in favor of alternatives.

Seafood

The humane aspects regarding seafood are complex and varied. Some seafood options, such as scallops, are humane. Other options, like lobster, are cruel. Some seafood choices support fishing practices that result in bycatch. For example, for every one pound of harvested shrimp, four pounds of other seafood are caught (e.g. fish, turtles).

Currently there are no animal welfare certifications that certifies wild or farmed seafood production. In the future, we plan to address seafood when we can do so in a way that provides high value to our users.

The Watch List

All of the issues described in this app cause intense suffering to animals. Some of them are particularly egregious and are easy to spot on a menu. We want to completely avoid restaurants that serve these foods.

If you see the following food items on the menu, please flag the restaurant by clicking the 'Edit' button at the restaurant listing screen, and make a note of which Watch List items the restaurant is selling.
 
 
 
 

Veal

Calves used for veal come from the dairy industry (link to dairy section). Calves are taken from their mothers within a day of being born. The females are raised as dairy cows while the males are used for veal. Half of all veal comes from calves kept in veal crates – small, dark crates that keep the calves immobile. Veal crates limit muscle development to produce meat that is more tender. How to spot on the menu: Very simple – it will be clearly labeled as veal on the menu. It is most often served in Italian restaurants.

How to spot on the menu: Very simple – it will be clearly labeled as veal on the menu. It is most often served at Italian restaurants.

Foie gras

Foie gras is the fattened liver of a duck or goose. The liver is fattened through a process of force feeding. Force feeding causes the liver to grow to 6-10 times its normal size. To force feed a bird, a worker inserts a metal feeding tube that forces the bird to eat several times more than it would voluntarily. The feeding tubes harm the bird’s throat and can severely injure or kill him. Force fed birds suffer impaired liver functions because of the liver’s swollen size. It can grow so big that it expands to other parts of the abdomen, making it difficult to breathe.

How to spot on the menu: Often served at French restaurants as foie gras or pate de foie gras. Not all pate is foie gras (although even if it is not, it may still be inhumane).

Shark fin soup

Shark fin soup is a Chinese dish served on special occasions. Culturally, it is a luxury item and a symbol of wealth. Fishermen obtain the fins by catching a shark, removing its fin, and throwing it back into the ocean – all while the shark is still alive. Without its fin, the shark is unable to swim properly. It sinks to the bottom of the ocean or is eaten by other predators. Shark fin soup has been banned in some countries and in a handful of U.S. states. Demand for the dish has decreased significantly in recent years thanks to awareness campaigns. How to spot on the menu: Served in Chinese restaurants as “shark fin soup.”

How to spot on the menu: Served in Chinese restaurants as Shark Fin soup.

Live storage

Storing live animals on-site at a restaurant is never a good thing and is easily identifiable. Typically, live storage involves seafood, particularly crab and lobster.

How to spot on the menu: You may see "Live" on the menu, but also look out for aquarium's on display in the restaurant. This is more common at restaurants w/ Lobster or Crab in the name or signage.

Resources/Links

HSUS Humane Eating

Meat and dairy labels

Egg labels

AWA Food Labeling for Dummies

Animal Welfare Approved

Global Animal Partnership

Certified Humane

Huffington Post Food for Thought

VegNews

No Meat Athlete

 
 
 
 

 

We would love to hear from you. We're particularly fond of suggestions!

If you would like a response, please give us your email address.

FAQ

 
 
 
 

Who determines what is humane?

We are including every restaurant that has a vegan/vegetarian menu or that mentions humanely-raised food in its menu or website. Similar terms such as “humane” or “humanely-treated” are allowed. Initially we need to map out everywhere the term is being used and encourage restaurants to do the right thing. In a future release, once we have achieved a critical mass of users and restaurants, we will indicate which restaurants are sourcing from third party humane-certified farms using third party certification organizations such as Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved, and Global Animal Partnership.

What about grass fed, free range etc?

Terms like free-range or grass-fed indicate some marginal benefit to farm animals, but do not equate to a commitment of treating an animal humanely. Many of these terms address only one issue of animal welfare. Vegan is the only option that is completely cruelty-free, but eating humanely-raised is a big improvement over eating factory farmed meat.

How can we help the project?

While donations are always appreciated, we need to raise awareness about how easy it is to eat humanely. Please spread the word to your friends, family, and coworkers and like or share our posts on Facebook and Twitter. We also need help from our users to add new listings, particularly humane restaurants.

If you wish to donate, please visit the America For Animals website and click on the Donate button on our home page.

Is eating humane better for the environment and my health?

The health benefits are very high for eating vegan and significant for eating vegetarian. Undoubtedly, most farmers that raise their animals humanely are also feeding them a better diet, not giving them an excess of of antibiotics, and so on. Humane farms are likely better for the environment in many ways – but the point of the Humane Eating Project is really to focus on eating in ways that cause less cruelty to animals. The rest of the benefits are a bonus!

What about grocery stores?

We plan to add grocery stores in the future. We feel that restaurants are more important right now for a variety of reasons. If you want to buy humanely-raised products at your grocery store, there are three third party certifications to look for: Global Animal Partnership (GAP), Certified Humane, and Animal Welfare Approved (AWA). GAP-certified products are available at Whole Foods. You can search the Certified Humane and AWA websites for where to find their products near you.

What about seafood restaurants?

The humane aspects regarding seafood are complex and varied and there are no animal welfare certifications to verify wild or farmed practices. We plan to address seafood when we can do so in a way that provides high value to our users.

What countries will the app work in?

Short answer: At launch time we will have Vegan/Vegetarian restaurant listings globally but for Humane-Friendly and Watch-List restaurants we only have data for the USA. With the help of VegGuide.org, we have over 20,000 restaurants total in our database.

Long answer: We encourage users all around the world to use the app and add more Humane Friendly and Watch List restaurants to make the app more global oriented.

In the future, we will have to customize the Watch List feature country-by-country because these issues are unique to each country. We will also have to customize the educational aspects of the app (The Learn button) – again, to be more relevant to each country. In the more distant future, we’ll add support for other languages aside from English.

So as it is now, the app is geared towards users in the USA, but we hope that changes quickly.

 

Thank you for contributing!

The update will be reviewed and our system updated in 2-3 days.