A Catholic animal welfare group said it is “distressed” that British slaughterhouses are killing more animals for meat every year to supply the overseas market, despite the increasing popularity of plant-based lifestyles in the UK.
Almost 28.8 million farm animals were killed for meat in 2019, up 5.4 per cent in two years.
On average, 78,900 cows, sheep and pigs were killed every day in 2019, up from 74,800 a day in 2017, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Yet in January nearly 400,000 Britons signed up to eat a plant-based diet for the month amid rising support for vegetarian/vegan lifestyles.
“It is distressing to learn that the number of over animals being killed for human consumption is still increasing year on year despite the British public eating less meat,” Chris Fegan, of Catholic Concern for Animals (CCA), told The Catholic Universe.
“As more Britons switch their food buying and eating habits to reduce their consumption of meat and fish, with increasing numbers converting to a vegan or vegetarian diet and lifestyle in order to go ‘cruelty free’, we are killing more animals in the UK to export overseas.”
The timing of the revelation was particularly upsetting given the support for the Veganuary campaign, with Brits pledging to stick to a vegan diet during January.
“This ‘slaughter of the innocents’ just cannot be right and once again we see animals as simply ‘commodities for profit’ as far as many in the slaughter industry are concerned,” Mr Fegan said. “Their behaviour has very little indeed to do with supplying food for the UK but simply to increase their own personal bank balances.”
One in eight Britons is vegetarian, according to Sainsbury’s 2019 analysis of consumer habits – which predicts a quarter will be by 2025.
Veganism has also been growing ‘exponentially’ in this period, and there are now 600,000 vegans in the UK, according to the Vegan Society.
Being vegan means avoiding eating all animal products – including meat, fish, dairy and eggs – and ‘ethical veganism’ became a philosophical belief protected in UK law under the Equality Act 2010 earlier this year.
Picture: Animal rights activists during a demonstration. (Omer Messinger/ZUMA Wire).