Factory farming simply would not exist if it were not for the growing appetite of consumers for animal products. FAO estimates that growth in per capita meat consumption has been around 2.2% per year since 1970, and while accelerated growth in meat consumption shows signs of tapering off, growth in meat consumption is still predicted until 2050 given growing global populations, increases in per capita consumption and changes in diets towards greater consumption of animal products.1
Given that factory farming causes the most suffering to the largest number of animals globally, if we are to make any meaningful change to the lives of animals, it is essential that we re-think our consumption of animal products globally and encourage transitions to plant-based foods. Thus, the Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI) bases its rankings on, among other factors, per capita consumption of animals in each country.
How is the “Consuming Cruelty” category measured?
We used two methods:
- Method one estimated the proportion of plant protein to land animal protein for each country;2 and
- Method two calculated a weighted value related to the number of animals consumed to account for the different yields of animal categories.3
Each method involved collecting the conservative data compiled by the FAOSTAT Food Balance data, with equal weighting given to each method.4 Learn more about how we measured each country’s performance under this category, and the overall logic behind the VACI.
How did each country rank under this category?
As with the ‘Producing Cruelty’ category, the consumption of meat, dairy and eggs is influenced by income and wealth. Accordingly:
- Low-income and lower middle income developing countries (such as Ethiopia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Nigeria) that rely on less than 15% of animal products to meet their protein consumption requirements, rank relatively high in this category; and
- High-income countries (such as The Netherlands, Australia, and Sweden) where animal products account for over 62% of protein consumption requirements, tend to rank lower.
- See, for example, FAO, ESA Working Paper No 12-13 ‘World Agriculture Towards 2030/2050 – The 2012 Revision’. Predictions of growth in global meat consumption may need to be revised downwards, following a government directive by the government of China that encourages a reduction in meat consumption.
- This metric was used instead of total animal protein consumption, as it provides a better indicator of consumer choice within purchasing power constraints.
- The weight of meat, eggs and milk consumed in each country was divided by the world average yield per animal of meat, eggs, and milk to avoid favouring countries that rely on factory farming to increase yields per animal at the cost of increased animal suffering.
- See the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ‘Food Balance Sheet’, FAOSTAT.