Archive for the ‘Animal welfare’ Category

BatteryPICI didn’t consider a love of ice cream and animals to be mutually exclusive until I bought an ice cream maker last summer, and upon reading a few recipes I realises that most ice cream contains eggs.  I try to avoid buying products made from cruelly treated animals, however a majority of commercial ice cream producers use eggs from intesively farmed hens.

Caged heat

Without going into the horrendous details (there are plenty of sites for that) hens bred in indoor cages (or “batteries”) spend their lives in extemely cramped conditions with a few fellow unfortunates. If they survive for around 12-18 months they are killed. Fortunately the practice is now so widely regarded as cruel it is to be banned in the European Union in 2012.

Bred with two faces

A good excuse never to help anyone or anything ever is that it might be hypocritical to do so. I would argue that to do a little for any just cause is much better than to do nothing. And even if we choose to do nothing but talking about it raises awareness and certainly does no harm. So, if one were to refuse to eat meat but wear leather shoes it would simply mean that a few less animals would die in the meat industry and those in the skin trade would be unaffected. Or if you were to cease to buy products containing eggs from caged birds for a month and write a letter to an ice cream company or supermarket voicing your concerns the world would be a tiny bit better than if you hadn’t.

Nice as ice

My favourite ice cream is the delicious Greens and Black’s organic, available in a sumptuous range of flavours at around £4 for 500ml – like all organic products it legally must be produced with a high standard of animal welfare, and the hens have significantly more space than those bred for the use of products simply labelled “free range.” A little cheaper is Mackie’s organic dairy ice cream – a serious yum-yum at £3 a litre. Swedish Glace is nice enough, contains no animal products at all and retails for a bargain £2 per 750ml.

Avoidance

I sent emails to a number of companies voicing my concerns about the use of caged birds in ice cream. From the replies it is clear that unless products are labelled as organic, or there is some sort of animal welfare marketing campaign, cruel farming methods are employed. I would single out Walls as sending me a particularly smug and self-congratulatory response to my first email before admitting when I pressed further that caged birds are used in their ice cream production. Haagen Dazs also use eggs from “indoor farmed hens”, which is shameful at their premium price point. But according to them the “fresh yolk…acts as a natural emulsifier, helping the texture and body of the ice cream and also providing the delicate flavour to our ice cream products.”

Show some compassion

The process of being in contact with these companies really put me off any sort of food, however the excellent organisation Compassion in World Farming deal with these types of people constantly, having discovered that the tactic of persuasion and co-operation helps animals more than the old fashioned shock tactics and shouting. There employees must have extraordinary levels of self control. If you’d like any more to help animals I suggest you head over to their website and follow there very sensible and measured advice on purchasing and campaigning.

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