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Swiss Referendum: Sparking A Conversation About Intensive Farming

In a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind vote, Switzerland has set an important precedent that must be celebrated.

On the 25th September, Swiss citizens were asked to decide in a referendum whether to ban intensive animal farming.

The referendum proposal also called for the Government to establish stricter rules for animal practices on farms, such as reducing the number of animals confined inside sheds and granting them access to the outdoors in all facilities. 

According to current Swiss law, there can be up to 1,500 pigs per farm. Inside, 10 adult pigs share the space of a parking lot. It is not possible to treat animals with dignity under these conditions.

Silvano Lieger, Director General of animal protection group Sentience Politics

If it had passed, the referendum would’ve been included in the Swiss Constitution and would end some of the worst abuses that animals face by banning intensive animal farming. The same welfare standards would then be required for animals and animal products imported from other countries.

While the entire city of Basel approved the proposal with a positive vote, 63% of voters said no to the initiative. This means that industrialised farms will continue operating.

Despite the result, it is encouraging to see 37% of voters make the decision to end intensive factory farming, especially given the vast resources that the meat industry has to advertise to citizens and lobby Government officials to prevent this historic victory for animals. 

It was a David vs. Goliath campaign.

Philip Ryf, Co-Campaign Manager of the initiative to abolish factory farming

An Important Precedent For Future Generations Of Animals

Despite the negative result of the referendum, this was the first case in the world where citizens had the opportunity to vote for the elimination of intensive animal farms, a very important precedent for the future of farmed animals.

Bringing such an important issue to a vote also means encouraging all citizens with voting rights to inform themselves about this issue and the conditions of animals raised for human consumption. This campaign has helped raise awareness of the plight of farmed animals.

While Switzerland missed this opportunity to be a pioneer and abolish cruel and unnatural intensive farming practices, it shows that change is on the horizon.

Each of us has the power, with what we choose to buy and eat, to decide which industries and systems to support. Every time we go shopping and choose what to buy, we can make a difference for animals and the planet.

Choosing a plant-based diet means choosing not to fund one of the most damaging industries that exists today. It means choosing not to fund an industry that needlessly exploits and kills billions of animals worldwide. 

Today, more than ever, we need international institutions to put intensive animal farming, meat consumption and its impact on animals, the environment and global public health at the center of the debate. Animals need us now more than ever before. We applaud Sentient Politics for this landmark initiative and we at Animal Equality, alongside animal activists all around the world, will continue working with governments precisely to make this happen. 

But it is equally important to be the change we want to see in the world ourselves, because the future is built in the present with our own personal choices. Save animals today by leaving them off of your plate.

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