How to Combat Climate Change with What You Eat

Recent estimates show that 99 percent of U.S. food animals are now factory raised. (Photo: Center for Food Safety)

How to Combat Climate Change with What You Eat

With this resource CFS is demonstrating that avoiding factory-raised meat is not only possible, but necessary for our health and the health of our planet

Last month, Center for Food Safety (CFS) launched a new report and website for consumers seeking to disrupt the intensive confinement model of food animal production. With sections including "Ten Reasons to Opt Out," and "How to Opt Out of Industrial Meat," outlines the "why's" and "how's" of keeping factory-raised meat and poultry off your plate. The site also has a section profiling farmers and ranchers that are producing sustainably and humanely raised meats.

Whatever your motivation--be it personal health, social justice, animal welfare, or conservation--CFS's new resources aim to help you identify sources of protein that better promote an equitable and ecological food system.

Through, CFS encourages and assists consumers in avoiding buying meat and poultry from animals raised in factories, and instead purchasing certified sustainably and humanely raised meats and choosing alternative healthy proteins.

Over the past several decades Animal Feeding Operations (AFO), which confine animals indoors for 45 days or more per year and do not regularly grow any crops or forage on site, have become the norm in the U.S. AFOs--especially Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), which house 1,000 animal units or more--are characterized by poor sanitation, overcrowding, water pollution, high greenhouse gas emissions, and over-reliance on veterinary drugs. They produce billions of pounds of meat and poultry each year at great costs to public health and the environment. For years, CFS has advocated for policies that establish baseline standards for food safety, animal welfare, and waste management as well as policies that hold food animal operators accountable if their operations don't meet these standards.

AFOs/CAFOs have severe consequences for individual health, natural resources, wildlife, animals, farmers, food workers, climate, community health, and the economy, including:

  • Increased prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on meats and in the environment.
  • Higher rates of trauma-related injuries for workers than other manufacturing jobs.
  • Excessive water consumption.
  • Torture and cruel conditions for animals, such as painful physical procedures and use of steroid growth promoters.
  • Emissions of toxic air pollutants that sicken nearby residents.

Many people rightfully find animal factories unsettling, if not downright disturbing. However, they may not know that unless you are actively sourcing alternatives, chances are extremely high that the meat and poultry you feed your family came from a CAFO. Recent estimates show that 99 percent of U.S. food animals are now factory raised (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return, 2016). This figure may be daunting, but it should not be discouraging

But opting out of the environmental, social, human health and economic consequences of animal factories is possible. Here's how:


Keep from over-consuming animal proteins. Lowering animal proteins can not only improve heart health, but can better enable you to use your same allotted budget to invest in buying certified humane, organic, and pasture-raised meat. Cutting your typical meat portion in half, making hybrid meat and vegetable dishes, and eating a diverse array of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes with each meal can all help reduce the animal protein portion on your plate.


Producers who certify their farms as humane, organic, and pasture-raised are required to meet specific standards of practice. By finding certified farmers at your local farmers' markets, looking for meaningful labels at the store, and eating at restaurants that source from certified farms, you avoid meat from industrial systems. Read our profiles of certified farmers to learn more about the many organic, humane, and pasture-based producers around the country.


Eating a diverse mix of plant foods that are high in protein (like beans, nuts, seeds, and certain fruits and vegetables); being aware of your daily protein needs and the amount of protein certain plants provide; and eating at establishments that focus on organic, non-GMO, plant-based menus will help you create meals that do not contribute to industrial meat production. Diets high in organic and non-GMO plant proteins also help to lower the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, lower systolic blood pressure, reduce risk of obesity in children, and lower mortality.

With this resource CFS is demonstrating that avoiding factory-raised meat is not only possible, but necessary for our health and the health of our planet.

Find out more at:

And take the pledge to opt out of industrial meat:

  1. I pledge to cut the meat I eat in half for the next year.

  1. When I do eat meat, I will source certified humane, organic, and pasture raised meats.

  1. I will eat more plant-based foods that are high in protein like beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, and quinoa.

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