Have you ever wondered how New Zealand ranks when it comes to animal cruelty? Available for anyone to access, the new Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index shows we aren’t doing quite as well as most of us would like to believe.
What Is The Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI)?
Developed by international animal welfare advocates Voiceless, the VACI provides a glimpse into the extent of farm animal cruelty across fifty selected countries worldwide.
The countries are ranked based on the number of farm animals slaughtered per capita, plant to animal based protein consumption and accepted local practices and procedures for the protection of farmed animals intended for food.
These three aspects, labelled “Producing Cruelty”, “Consuming Cruelty” and “Sanctioning Cruelty” respectively are used to determine the rankings for each country listed.
What makes the VACI different is it aims to identify the level of harm caused by individual countries. The selected countries are drawn from the established World Animal Protection Index (API) which focuses on Animal Welfare legislation. These fifty countries together account for the majority of mass produced farm animal products around the world.
Which Countries Are The Worst?
Belarus tops the list as the worst performer due to its large volumes of farm animal consumption (mainly chicken) and lack of animal protection laws. The VACI score for Belarus is 143.
The United States of America comes in second worst with a score of 118. While animal protection laws are widespread, the degree of variance across state lines can be enormous, and as a whole the country is a high consumer of animal based protein.
Venezuela comes in at a very close third (117). The main contributing factors being the popularity of factory farming and that Venezuelan diets are proportionately high in animal products.
Russia and Iran fall 4th equal at 115, largely due to the fact that there are little or no laws governing the treatment or protection of farmed animals.
Canada, Australia, Brazil, Malaysia and Myanmar make up the remainder of the top ten worst countries ranked by the Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index.
Which Countries Are The Best?
Kenya falls as the lowest scoring country under the VACI rankings receiving a score of 27. However according to World Bank a high proportion of its population (36.1% in 2015) live under the poverty line which has proven to be a significant influencer of the levels of animal protein consumed.
India is also one of low scorers at 28, in part due to religious aspects of the culture and an overall low consumption of animal products per capita. India is let down for the most part by its non-standard animal welfare legislation.
Tanzania comes in third for lowest ranking countries but is considered the best performer overall. There is a high rate of poverty however, with World Bank figures stating 28.2% of the population live bellow national poverty lines as at 2011.
With an overall Cruelty rank of 4, the Philippines do consume a proportionately low amount of animal protein. Predominantly small scale farming practices contribute to the low ranking however historical cultural aspects surrounding the treatment of animals in captivity are considered a hindrance.
Switzerland and Nigeria come in 5th equal, however both for different reasons. Switzerland has one of the lowest ‘Sanctioning Cruelty’ rankings (second only to Austria) with strongly enforced animal protection laws. And Nigeria has one of the lowest ‘Consuming Cruelty’ rankings (second only to Ethiopia) with a very low proportion of animal consumption (again a high rate of poverty is likely to be a influencing factor here).
Germany, Austria, Indonesia and Niger make up the reminder of the ten best countries as ranked by the Index.
Where Does New Zealand Rank?
New Zealand is ranked at number 30 on the VACI list with a score of 85, only marginally better than Uruguay and South Africa. Even though New Zealand ranks far better on the World API which looks predominantly at welfare legislation, we do rank badly (45th) in the ‘Consuming Cruelty’ category.
The fact is, here in New Zealand people eat a lot of land based animal products, consuming high quantities of farmed animals including chicken, pork, beef and lamb. However we do have world-leading animal welfare laws and practices, as well a growing emphasis on more traditional, sustainable farming methods with the main exception being the dairy farming industry.
The Rise Of Vegetarianism In New Zealand
- Search data from Google Trends shows a substantial increase in interest in veganism over the past 10 years, and a steady increase in vegetarian searches with New Zealand making the top five countries in both categories. Israel, Australia, Canada, and Austria make up the others.
- A poll taken by Roy Morgan in 2016 shows over 10% of New Zealanders always or almost always eat a vegetarian diet, up 27% from 2011.
- A recent survey conducted by Bean Supreme indicated the trend is continuing in 2017 with 24% of people surveyed expected to be mostly meat free within the following seven years.
- The same study indicated over 50% of New Zealanders are eating less meat, with sales of popular vegetarian food products such as vege sausages, tofu, and falafel having increased significantly.
- The New Zealand Herald recently forecasted a “28 per cent increase in vegan, vegetarian and plant-based offerings” for New Zealand restaurants in 2018.
It is evident that there is much room for improvement in the treatment and protection of animals in New Zealand and worldwide. The new Index offers a useful tool in the education around the subject as well as promoting accountability.
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