Does Anyone Else Think the Whole Foods Animal Welfare Rating System Is Creepy?

I honestly think the majority of people who buy meat at Whole Foods think they’re doing the right thing. I mean, in terms of animal welfare standards at supermarkets, Whole Foods is pretty much as good as it gets. But while I’m happy for any improvements farmers make for animals who are horribly exploited for food, I also know that “happy meat” is a big fucking lie.

Animals don’t want to be slaughtered for food any more than you or I would. I eye-roll so hard when I hear people say animals “give their lives for us.” No, they don’t. We take their lives. Anyone who lives with a dog or a cat knows how much animals value their lives. Why would a pig or a cow or a chicken be any different? They’re not.

When you go to Whole Foods, they often display their Five-Step Animal Welfare Rating system next to the meat case. It works like this: Each cut of meat is rated from a ONE to a FIVE depending on how “well” the animals were raised – a FIVE is considered the best. What I find creepy about this is that by creating this rating system, Whole Foods isn’t just asking you what level of animal welfare you’re comfortable with, but also what level of cruelty. Because if a FIVE is the best, that must mean that a ONE is the worst.

Whole Foods’ animal welfare rating system

So, like, are people really OK with a ONE? Because for chickens that means no “enhanced outdoor access” (as in ever going outside). They don’t get that until a THREE. Pigs are castrated without painkillers up until a FIVE. Could you imagine those “standards” for your companion animal? Never taking your dog outside? Having your cat’s testicles “removed or destroyed” without painkillers? That’s a big no from me, gurl. At level ONE, 15 percent of chickens raised for meat are allowed to have “hock burn” – lesions that form on their legs from contact with poor litter. Excuse me?

While customers at the meat case decide what level of welfare cruelty they’re comfortable with, just a few feet away are products that look and taste just like the same thing except they’re made from plants. There’s no rating system for these vegan products because no one had to suffer and be killed in order to make them.

It blows my mind that people would willingly choose to buy something like hamburger when they can buy Beyond Burgers. If you’re gonna shop at Whole Foods because you’re concerned about animal welfare, why not just buy the product that doesn’t require an animal to be killed in the first place?

My goal here is not to necessarily trash Whole Foods. Like I said, in the animal welfare department, they’re probably better than any other supermarket. But better doesn’t mean cruelty-free, and it certainly doesn’t mean “humane.” (There’s even been undercover investigations of Whole Foods’ meat suppliers that have revealed some pretty horrific shit. You can check those out here and here.)

My point is to merely point out the creepiness of asking people who say they care about animals to choose the level of cruelty they’re comfortable with. The only right answer to that question is zero – and that means vegan.

Main image: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International Photographer: ChadPerez49