April 10 is National Farm Animal Day

Today is National Farm Animal Day, a time for us all to remember the animals whose lives are sacrificed for our own diets. Whether you believe it’s okay to eat meat or not, there’s no denying that Americans eat too much of it, or that we treat the majority of our animals—particularly those in factory farms—with such cruelty it’s a wonder we retain any of the humanity we have.

In honor of these animals, why not pledge to have a vegetarian meal each week? We could all also pledge to try to buy our meat, when we do, from reputable sources that treat animals humanely. Another important thing to do is to kill the myth we perpetuate to our children that all animals are happy farm animals, frolicking freely on farms across the country, when the majority of our meat is made in factory farms where the animals have no room to turn around, have their beaks burned off in order to prevent them from pecking each other to death, are often electrocuted or cut while still alive, and face dozens of other atrocities on a daily basis. We need to teach our children about how some farms do treat animals well while others do not, and that we need to be vocal about those that don’t in order to put pressure on them to reform and end the suffering that they cause.

We can do this by refusing to read all of those happy animal farm books, buying plastic farm sets for them to play with, and otherwise not buying into the myth—or by coupling these activities with counter-ones, such as child-appropriate education materials and discussions. “Do all cows get to walk around and graze like these cows do?” you might ask when you drive by a family farm. You might even want to schedule a visit to a family farm; older teens may wish to interview workers at factory farms (this activity would not be appropriate for younger children).

Another way to celebrate Farm Animal Day is to take action with Farm Sanctuary. You can make a donation, rescue injured animals, become an intern, or take action on important issues, such as asking the United States Department of Agriculture to protect downed pigs and other animals facing harm in farming environments. You can also schedule a visit with Farm Sanctuary or check out details on their fundraising events, such as their popular concerts.