Next Tuesday the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill will be debated in Parliament for the first time. Global authorities recognise that people in industrialised countries need to transition towards a plant-based diet, and at OneKind we encourage and support people to make that shift. As long as some people are still eating meat and dairy, we will work to protect and improve the lives of farmed animals. This Bill is a once in a generation chance to really change our food system and put the wellbeing of human and non-human animals at the heart of it.
For much change is needed. In the UK, we still show our children picture books of ‘Old MacDonald’ style farms, with one or two of each species all mingling in sunny meadows: a smiling portrait of an interspecies hippy commune. But, just as the trains no longer go “choo-choo”, this is not an accurate portrayal of how farmed animals live.
We have been trained to view plentiful, cheap animal ‘products’ as necessary, and our food system has been shaped to meet this demand. In intensive systems, individual souls live and die out of sight and mind, reduced to anonymous production units, and knowledge of occurrences within is often repressed.
At OneKind, we want this Bill to facilitate a shift away from these intensive practices, to bring an end to lifetimes spent in cages or overcrowded barns, and to ensure that animals can move and behave as they choose and have interest and pleasure in their lives. This will require major changes, and it needs to be a just transition that supports farmers throughout, recognising that it is systems that cause these problems, not individuals.
It is time for our society to take action to demand the reform of a system that, in prioritising productivity and mechanising lives, is incompatible with a kind, dignified, compassionate food culture. To rediscover and cultivate that side of ourselves, that values kindness above efficiency, and life above profit. To remember that every farmed animal is an individual, just as much as our dogs and cats, with a personality and feelings and desires. We cannot be a Good Food Nation until we are also good to them.