animal rights in canada

This is how many animals were slaughtered in Canada last year

Pork, beef, mutton, veal, venison, chicky nuggies... they may all end up with vaguely palatable names once killed, chopped up and prepared for human consumption, but these food items all start out as live animals: Pigs, cows, sheep, calves, deer and chickens, to be precise.

Canada kills a lot of them — more and more each year, in fact, with a record 833,921,583 land animals slaughtered in 2019 alone.

Animal Justice, a non-profit Canadian legal organization that fights for animal rights, released a new piece of data analysis this week to illustrate just how fast the number of bodies produced by our country's meat industry has been rising in recent years.

Based on the federal government's own agri-food sector intelligence numbers, Animal Justice found that "the Canadian meat industry is slaughtering more animals for food than ever before," from some 750 million land animals in 2015 to nearly 834 million last year.

animal rights in canada

Canada is killing more and more animals for food each year despite the consistent decline of pork and bee consumption per capita over the past three decades. Image via Animal Justice.

"The ongoing increase in slaughter is almost entirely due to more chickens being killed for meat. Per capita demand for most types of meat has either declined or remained relatively constant over the past 30 years," explains the advocacy group

"Chickens are much smaller than cows or pigs, so more of them must be killed to sell the same amount of meat. Population growth also plays a role in the increase in chickens being slaughtered."

Animal Justice estimates that an additional 44,041,000 chicks (baby chickens) and 590,000 turkey chicks were killed at hatcheries in 2019, "most of them male chicks who were ground up alive because they cannot produce eggs and are worthless to egg farmers."

The agri-food numbers listed above also fail to account for aquatic animals like fish, lobsters and crabs, whose "lives are measured in tonnes."

When broken down by sector, "meat chickens" had the highest death toll at 747,506,691, while 33,919,452 egg-laying hens and breeding chickens were also killed in 2019.

animal rights in canada

Canada exported 5,861,620 live cows, pigs, sheep, bison, and horses to the U.S. in 2019 along with 16,383,263 live chickens and other birds. Image via Animal Justice.

Turkeys, who've been known to enjoy music, play games together and purr like cats, had the next-highest count at 19,804,087, followed by ducks and geese at 6,861,063.

Canada's meat industry also took the lives last year of 21,404,799 pigs, which have time and again been proven more intelligent than dogsoutperform human toddlers in cognition tests and can even outsmart chimpanzees when it comes to playing video games.

Over three million adult cows, known to be gentle and highly social, were killed for dairy and meat purposes in 2019, along with 210,240 of their babies.

Animal Justice notes that millions of other animals likely died as a result of being born into hellish factory farm conditions, but are not included in the numbers above as they did not become "meat."

Instead, millions of animals died prematurely from illnesses, injuries, or simply being deemed "not good enough to eat" upon arriving at a slaughterhouse... but getting murdered anyway.

Lead photo by

Pork Checkoff


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Food & Drink

Canada's most famous Newfoundland store has closed and been replaced

Restaurant in Canada fined almost $1K for illegal patio tent

Restaurants are boycotting Nova Scotia lobster in support of Indigenous fishers

Nightclub in Canada agrees to close after video shows packed dance floor

Canada's most famous taco restaurant permanently closes

This restaurant in Canada might have the first perogy drive-thru in the world

Ontario restaurant threatened by lawsuit by man not wearing mask

Workers form a human chain at No Frills to strike over low wages