SYDNEY, Nov. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI), a new global interactive education resource, tracks the animal welfare performance of fifty countries – selected among the largest producers of farm animal products in the world. It takes account of the combined impacts of production, consumption, and regulatory factors (vaci.voiceless.org.au).
Approximately 70 billion farm animals are slaughtered each year for human consumption globally. This equates to over 191 million animals per day, almost 8 million per hour or 2,200 animals per second. The number of animals slaughtered worldwide is increasing at a rapid pace, driven by increased incomes in developing nations, a growing reliance on cheap products from factory farms and world population growth.
Fifty countries have been evaluated, accounting for almost 80% of the world's farm animal production. The new index complements the World Animal Protection Index (API) published in 2014 (api.worldanimalprotection.org). While the API ranks the quality of animal welfare legislation across countries, the VACI focuses specifically on the welfare of farm animals. As a result, the United States now ranks 49th out of fifty countries compared to a 31st ranking in the API.
Each country's legislative environment is an important factor. However, good regulatory frameworks are not sufficient. Countries with more plant-based diets and countries that have not adopted factory farming are ranked higher under the VACI scale.
As meat and dairy consumption rises, so does factory farming, which is rife with animal cruelty: most farm animals are permanently confined in cages or packed together in such large numbers that they struggle to find space to move or reach their food. Baby animals are mutilated without pain relief – the sensitive tails, teeth and genitalia of piglets and the beaks of chicks are clipped, as well as the horns, tails, and testicles of calves – because it is practical, cheap and, alarmingly, often lawful to do so.
The countries ranked the lowest are Belarus, the United States, and Venezuela. Australia receives an 'F' (very poor) while the UK and New Zealand achieve a 'D' (marginal performance). The countries ranking the highest (i.e. the least cruel) are Kenya, India, and the United Republic of Tanzania.