hink about what makes up a healthy diet. If you’re like most, a list of ingredients may come to mind, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein foods. But just as important as which foods are in your diet is where these foods actually come from.
Although intensive animal farming can cut costs and help ramp up food production, it has been tied to several significant ethical and environmental issues. It’s also been linked to some serious health concerns, including antibiotic resistance, the reduced nutritional value of foods, and a higher risk of illness and infection.
Livestock also produces and release methane during digestion, which can increase greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to climate change and global warming (4, 5). Additionally, cow, pig, and turkey factory farming requires significant use of natural resources, including land, water, and crops.
Poor nutrition is another common health concern associated with factory farms. Animals are fed high-fat diets laden with additives to keep costs low and increase growth, which can alter the quality and nutritional value of products. One review found that milk and meat from grass-fed cows were lower in total fat and higher in healthy fats like omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than that of conventionally raised cows (10).
However, these issues go beyond animal cruelty in the meat industry. In fact, animals used for egg or milk production are subject to the same stressful, dangerous and unhealthy living conditions. Short calving intervals, overly restrictive housing systems, and overproduction of milk, for example, are all common concerns within the dairy industry (11).