Applied Animal Ethics in Industrial Food Animal Production: Exploring the Role of the Veterinarian

Elein Hernandez, Pol Llonch, Patricia V. Turner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Industrial food animal production practices are efficient for producing large quantities of milk, meat, and eggs for a growing global population, but often result in the need to alter animals to fit a more restricted environment, as well as creating new animal welfare and health problems related to animal confinement in high densities. These practices and methods have become normal-ized, to the extent that veterinarians and others embedded in these industries rarely question the ethical challenges associated with raising animals in this fashion. Moral ‘lock-in’ is common with those working in food animal industries, as is the feeling that it is impossible to effect meaningful change. Animal welfare issues associated with the industrialization of food animal production are ‘wicked problems’ that require a multi-and transdisciplinary approach. We argue that veterinari-ans, as expert animal health and welfare advocates, should be critical stakeholders and leaders in discussions with producers and the food animal sector, to look for innovative solutions and technology that will address current and future global sustainability and food security needs. Solutions will necessarily be different in different countries and regions, but ethical issues associated with industrial food animal production practices are universal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number678
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • Animal ethics
  • Animal welfare
  • Food animal
  • Sustainability
  • Veterinary medicine


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