by Priscilla Feral, President of FoA

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a vegan senator, and U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna have proposed legislation to ban factory farms—The Farm System Reform Act. The legislation is being touted as “a more humane food system by moving away from destructive concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and supporting the transition toward higher welfare, certified farms, and alternative crop production.”

Eliminating factory farms sounds good on the surface, doesn’t it? The barbaric conditions under which billions of animals are raised and killed is beyond comprehension, so any measure that alleviates cruelty and suffering seems prudent. However, the legislators are not saying don’t eat meat, they’re just saying, “Let’s do it differently,” and that’s just not good enough.

Human beings create unspeakable misery wherever they turn animals into consumer goods, whether it is on a factory farm or at a small-scale farm where the animals are “free-range” and “grass-fed.” Slaughter is slaughter.

Not to mention all living human and non-human animals are currently facing an unfolding climate crisis and the sixth mass extinction—and both are hastened by eating meat.

We commend the congressman for acknowledging the need to close factory farms, but if our species is to survive and flourish—alongside the non-human animals with which we coexist—we need to encourage and motivate people to adopt a plant-based lifestyle, and we need to move quickly.

Around 10 billion animals are killed U.S. factory farms each year, according to the non-profit Food Tank. Industrial animal agriculture generates more greenhouse gases than all the world’s combined emissions from the transportation sector. Manure and harmful pollutants from factory farms contaminate the water, land and air in neighboring communities, compromising human health and environmental integrity. Factory farms also consume massive quantities of water and fossil fuels, requiring vast amounts of energy to cool, heat and ventilate the facilities where animals are housed. Chickens, pigs and cows are typically fed monocrops, such as corn, that are dependent on large amounts of chemical fertilizer and fossil fuels to harvest. Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of deforestation—both for clearing land for feed crops and for grazing—which releases billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But guess what? Our planet is not large enough to raise all of those animals “free range” and even if it was it would still be harmful to the environment. And putting more livestock on federal public lands would obliterate wildlife. Because of the animal agriculture industry in states like Texas, Colorado and Idaho, the arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as Wildlife Services already kills approximately 1.2 million native animals annually, according to data released by the program.

Senator Booker and Rep. Khanna, let’s face it, there is no right way to do the wrong thing.