Most Israelis think gov't should ban cages, minimize animal suffering

93% of the Israeli public believe that locking up animals in crowded cages for their entire lives is considered animal abuse, a new survey found.

Chicken coop 521 (photo credit: Karin Kloosterman)
Chicken coop 521
(photo credit: Karin Kloosterman)
The vast majority of Israelis believe that the government should do more in order to limit the suffering of animals at industrial livestock production sites, according to a new survey conducted by the Geocartography research institute for the Animals Now Israeli non-profit organization.   
Known by its opponents as factory farming, industrial livestock production is a modern agriculture method designed to maximize the production of meat, milk and eggs by employing various machinery and biotechnology tools while minimizing costs by keeping livestock in high density conditions.
The method, which has become an integral aspect of modern life, vital, some might say for producing food on the mass scales needed to sustain the growing global population, has come under fire in recent years for not being sustainable or ethical, as well as for causing health issues due to the use of pesticides and other substances used to maximize production. 
Israel is known for its vegan-friendly culture. A survey published in October noted that nearly one-in-ten Tel Aviv-Yafo residents is vegan or vegetarian. Not long after, it was reported that the world's first lab-grown meat restaurant was opened in Nes Tziona, a suburb of Tel Aviv. A BBC review from December 2019 titled “Top 10 destinations for foodies 2020,” went as far as naming Tel Aviv "the world’s self-designated vegan capital." 
If that's not enough to portray Israel's commitment to exploring ways of minimizing animal suffering, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel recently announced that Israel is set to ban fur trade, which will make it the first country in the world to do so.
But things could always be better. And the new survey indicates that Israelis are ready to take the fight for animal rights one step forward - to the Knesset
According to the survey, 93% of the Israeli public believe that locking up animals in crowded cages for their entire lives is considered animal abuse and 94% of the public agree that the government should act to minimize animal abuse in all industrial livestock production facilities.  
The Knesset's Economic Affairs Committee has recently been discussing new proposed regulations regarding the production of eggs for 2021. One of the issues being discussed is allocating a budget for additional chicken coops, a controversial issue that has been discussed several times in recent years and even reached the High Court of Justice. In 2009, Animals Now appealed the High Court and demanded that all reforms for adding, expanding and rebuilding existing chicken coops be put on hold until regulations assuring that the chickens are handled humanely and kept in reasonable conditions are put in place.
Reasonable conditions, in this regard, refers to open air chicken coops that won't include crowded cages. The new survey sheds new light on this issue, indicating that 89% of Israelis believe that Israel should ban caged chicken coops completely.
The survey also showed that Israelis are willing to pay more in order to guarantee better living conditions for chickens, even in a time of economic uncertainty. Only 24% of participants said they wouldn't pay an extra NIS 2 for a carton of eggs produced in open air chicken coops. 
In the meat industry, chickens have traditionally been kept in structures without any cages. However, the Agriculture Ministry has recently approved the use of caged chicken coops in the meat industry for the first time. In this regard, it seems like the state is not aligned with the public interest, as 90% of the Israeli public expressed objection to keeping chickens in cages in the meat industry as well. 
"The entire world is moving towards ending the era of cages and the Israeli public stands united in saying: locking up animals in crowded cages for their entire lives is abuse," a statement by Animals Now read. 
"Israelis care about animals, many choose to remove meat and eggs from their plates and those who still eat animals believe that animal suffering should be reduced and that chickens should at least be able to step on the ground and flap their wings. We expect the government to respect the public interest and call on the Agriculture Minister to act swiftly and end the caging of chickens, both in the eggs and in the meat industries."