Unfortunately, not all farm animals get to live out their lives naturally or humanely. In our modern world, many of them live in horrific conditions, especially at commercial meat and dairy farms. Not only do the animals suffer greatly, but it takes a toll on our environment as well.
According to PetPedia, here are some statistics about factory farming:
- Globally, farmers breed about 70 billion farm animals for consumption.
- In the US, 99% of farm animals live in factory farms.
- The majority of antibiotics globally goes toward feeding farm animals.
- Chicken today contains 220% more fat than it did in the 1950s.
- Dairy cows on factory farms have a lifespan of only 5 years. Then, the production facilities slaughter them for meat.
- 94% of Americans say they believe the animals bred for consumption shouldn’t suffer.
- According to the EPA, factory farming causes more water wastage than any other source in the US.
- Around 260 million acres of forests in the US were harvested to produce fields for farm animals.
- In the US, it’s estimated that 40% of agricultural emissions come from factory farms.
- Farm animals living in factory farms grow at a rate three times faster than normal.
- Dairy cows spend the majority of their lives pregnant, as the farmers need a steady supply of milk. They only get to rest a few months between pregnancies.
- In 2007, dairy cows produced 20,000 lbs worth of milk.
- Around the world, scientists estimate that two-thirds of animals raised for food come from factory farms.
- 35,000 miles of river in 22 US states have been polluted by waste from raising cattle, poultry, and hogs.
- 90% of the Amazon rainforest harvested in the last 50 years went to commercial livestock production.
- Farm animals consume 70% of freshwater globally.
- Farming cows produces the largest amount of methane.
The impact of factory farming
Because of the horrific consequences of factory farming on animals and the planet, many people have chosen to go vegan. Not only did Mackenzie Sullivan and Billy Graydus choose a vegan lifestyle; they opened their very own vegan sanctuary! Here’s their story.
“Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary is a vegan farm animal sanctuary. We’re dedicated to rescuing, caring, and providing a home for neglected, abused, and abandoned farm animals.”
How the couple started rescuing farm animals
Mackenzie says she first met Ellie Mae (who she named the sanctuary after) when she was 4 months old. She had to pick a farm animal to train for an event for an animal science course at the University of Connecticut. After being with her a few months, she grew very close to Ellie Mae.
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“After the course was over, she was auctioned off and a local farmer purchased her,” Mackenzie said. “I was able to visit her for the next three years. Soon after, she was impregnated, and when I found out Ellie Mae was pregnant, I knew I had to do something to save her and her soon-to-be calf.”
From their website: “When Ellie was almost two years old she was artificially inseminated and on September 16, 2018 she gave birth to a baby girl who we named, Zee. Once Zee was born I could not rest until I knew those two girls were safe. I was finally able to convince the farmer to let me have them. So we bought a trailer and moved the two girls to our first property in May of 2019.
During this time I visited as many sanctuaries as possible and interned at a sanctuary in New York. I continued to learn more about the injustices that farmed animals endured every day and grew ever more passionate about saving as many of these beautiful animals as possible. With my incredible partner, Billy, we started the sanctuary and decided to name it Ellie Mae Farm Sanctuary, after the girl who changed my world forever.”
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Mackenzie says the animals give her a sense of purpose and keep her motivated to continue rescuing farm animals. Because so many of these animals receive abuse in factory farming, she wants to save as many as she can. She believes all animals deserve safety and equal treatment.
Cows can form bonds with humans much like dogs can
“We work hard each day so that the animals are able to live out the lives that they deserve, the lives that they want to live.”
Currently, they have three cows living at the sanctuary: Ellie Mae, her calf Zee, and another adult cow named Blackberry. They also adopted and rescued an 8-year-old Lab mix named Nala! As animal lovers, they will invite as many furry friends as possible onto their farm. Now that they’ve had the cows for a while, Mackenzie and Billy have grown close to them all.
“You learn how to communicate with them and how different each animal is from the next,” Mackenzie says. “My absolute favorite thing is knowing that they finally begin to trust you and you can give so much love to them, and they will also give you love in return.”
Mackenzie says that they will keep advocating for them and sharing their stories to spread awareness of a vegan lifestyle. They want to encourage others to make better choices to reduce the suffering among all beings, as well as the planet.
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Final thoughts: a vegan lifestyle has a positive impact on farm animals and the planet
Humankind uses much of the land on Earth for agriculture, it makes sense to go vegan to reduce our environmental impact. While this lifestyle may not suit everyone, even eating less meat can make a big difference. If you do choose to eat meat, try to buy from sustainably sourced farms. As for eggs and dairy, make sure the box or carton says “humanely raised.”
We can all make kinder choices each day for the animals, our health, and the planet. No matter what foods you eat, choose as many ethically sourced options as you can. And, if you have the time and resources, you may consider opening a sanctuary as Billy and Mackenzie did! There are plenty of farm animals out there who desperately need a new home.