Yet ultra-high-welfare animal products are a possibility, not a fantasy. Consider the highest level of the “5-Step” animal-welfare rating program at Whole Foods Market. For beef, this prohibits branding, castration, ear notching, separating mothers from calves for early weaning and long trips to the slaughterhouse. For pigs, this ensures they are never separated from their littermates, which is important because of how social pigs are. For chickens, it means they have plenty of space and don’t have to endure physical alterations like debeaking.
Almost no farms meet these standards, but if more of us were willing to compromise on the price, taste, quantity and texture of the meat we eat, more farms like this could exist and thrive.