The Five Freedoms


Back in the ’60s, the UK government commissioned an investigation into the welfare of “intensively farmed animals.” They then set up the Farm Animal Welfare Council, which developed a set of guidelines now known as the Five Freedoms:

  • Freedom from thirst and hunger: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
  • Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  • Freedom from pain, injury, and disease: by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  • Freedom to express normal behavior: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  • Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

It all seems so simple and reasonable, right? The Five Freedoms describe the world that all animals (and all humans, for that matter) should live in–and you can even count them on one hand. If Old MacDonald really did have a farm once, surely that’s how he would have organized things. And yet, for 98% of the animals we eat, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

So right now my goal is, at the very least, to leverage another precious and fragile freedom, the freedom of information, to educate myself and my fellow co-op members about what’s happening on some farms that Old MacDonald would never recognize.

One thought on “The Five Freedoms

  1. When I was growing up in the 50’s my brother was served steak; my sister and I had burgers. We were a poor family so my mother had to cut costs as much as possible.

    I never really liked steak, but burgers were the bomb. The only time I did eat steak was at this restaurant called “The Pub” in Camden, NJ. They cooked their meat over a charcoal oven, and called these dishes en-brochette.

    As my three children were growing up, my father-in-law, Max, brought us meat at least once a month. Max was a wholesale meat distributor to restaurants. My delivery consisted of five pounds of ground meat, a whole sirloin and a gigantic block of American cheese. I was very grateful for these things, but I had to cut and package everything. The stench of the blood made me sick, but what’s a girl to do!

    Earlier, my not wanting to eat steak was probably subconscious, but having to slice the meat was real.

    I still continued to eat burgers until the day I took a pamphlet from PETA members on the street in Center City Philadelphia.

    I became a vegan for ten years. But, after moving to the center of Philly, I had to change because the restaurants were in the dark about vegetarians. How much salad and pasta can one eat?

    At my niece’s wedding I was served a plate of raw broccoli.

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