The Pig Pledge is a campaign to shift the buying habits of consumers away from animal factories towards responsible farms. It explains the often confusing labels on meat, and shows you how to buy pork ethically.
As ethical consumers, you already know that what you buy makes a difference. Every time we buy pork, bacon, ham or sausages we vote for one of several different methods of pork production. We at Farms Not Factories, are putting out a call for collective action, for consumers to demand pork that is produced responsibly, and not at the expense of people, animals or the environment. By choosing to buy only high welfare pork, you are voting for farming with traditional values of stewardship, and against animal factories that abuse animals, sicken neighbours with a toxic stench, overuse antibiotics and ignore welfare laws. By externalising their true costs of production, they are unfairly putting sustainable farmers out of business.
You can learn more about the systematic problems of animal factories at www.pigpledge.org/issues
See the image below for the production methods associated with each label:
Buying Red Tractor does not guarantee ethical production. It ensures that the pigs have been raised in Britain where welfare laws are better than in other EU countries. In the EU sows are supposed to only be confined in gestation (pregnancy) crates, too narrow for them to turn around, for up to 2 months every year but in reality, according to Compassion in World Farming, between 70% and 90% of farms break this law and pigs are in crates most of their pregnancy. In the UK, although gestation crates have been banned, farrowing crates are allowed for 5 weeks in each cycle, or 11 weeks a year.
So UK production systems have the highest standards in the EU. However, many Red Tractor certified facilities overcrowd the animals on bare concrete slats and allow routine tail docking and so, to keep these stressed pigs alive, antibiotics are routinely given.
RSPCA Freedom Food guarantees significantly better standards of animal welfare. Although it is possible that pigs on the Freedom Food scheme spend their entire lives indoors, they have more space, they must be given straw and a solid floor, and tail docking is strictly controlled, so that the cause of tail biting (usually overcrowding and lack of bedding) must be addressed.
Outdoor Bred pork guarantees that sows live their whole lives outdoors with access to hutches where they can shelter and sleep. Piglets are weaned at about 28 days and fattened indoors where the law says they must have straw or similar bedding. They are often given antibiotics to prevent diseases resulting from the early weaning.
We would encourage ethical consumers to strive for either Free Range or Organic as in these systems mother pigs and the piglets have access to outdoor spaces throughout their lives, and because they are healthy and happy, very rarely require antibiotics. In Organic systems the piglets are not weaned until they are at least 40 days old, and the food must not contain GMOs. So, Organic is the most ethical system from which to buy your pork. Although its more expensive it’s possible to cover the extra cost by buying cheaper cuts, or eating less but better meat.
By taking the Pig Pledge to only buy only high welfare pork, people can join a worldwide movement to boycott meat from animal factories and bring an end to this insane, inhumane industrial system.To make this easier we have produced a high welfare pork directory which can be found on our website at www.pigpledge.org/directory - all of the producers on the interactive map sell ethically produced pork. We’re asking everyone, even vegetarians and vegans, to shout about their commitment by signing the pig pledge today at www.pigpledge.org.