Knowledge is power when it comes to ethical food choices

EGGSPECTATIONS: Shopping habits send a clear message about higher animal welfare standards.
EGGSPECTATIONS: Shopping habits send a clear message about higher animal welfare standards.

There's no denying we're increasingly interested in understanding where and how our food is produced.

Australians care about animal welfare, including the welfare of those animals farmed for food, and when it comes to eating animal-derived products, some are choosing to reduce, some are eliminating all together, and others are seeking more information about how to make a better choice.

So while the majority of Australians still consume meat, fish, dairy and eggs, here are some tips aimed at helping improve the lives of farm animals today, and how you can use your grocery dollars to support your values and improve farm animal welfare in Australia.

Know exactly what you're buying

Seek out reliable information on farming and livestock production from independent organisations you trust.

You can find videos, articles, infographics or even podcasts online, that will tell you more about the way our food is produced and the animal welfare issues that can result. For example, the RSPCA has an extensive online library of animal welfare articles in its Knowledgebase.

With scientifically referenced facts and evidence, it's Australia's most trusted source of animal welfare advice and information.

Learning a little more about how animals are farmed for food will give you a better understanding of the products to look for and those to avoid.

Look closely at the labels

Read the labels carefully and choose products that are checked or accredited by reputable organisations that have standards available for you to compare.

Without nationally agreed definitions or standards for product labelling, terms like 'free range' can be used without informing consumers how much access the animals really have to the outdoors. Likewise, terms like 'hencoop' on eggs can be used to disguise the reality that the eggs have come from layer hens confined to cages.

Switch it up when possible

Higher welfare can cost more, and for some products a better option isn't always available.

By switching up to a better choice when you can, you're signalling to businesses that you support a higher welfare product within what's reasonable for your own budget and lifestyle. For instance, moving from cage eggs to cage-free eggs (barn laid or free range) is a good first step.

You might be surprised by how little the price difference is.

Put it in writing

If you're unsure what a brand is doing to give farm animals a better life, why not contact them directly or have a look on their website to find out more?

Do they say that farm animal welfare is an important consideration in their business, and how do they prove this? This could be through a public commitment to transition away from cage eggs, for example, or additional measures across their supply chains to uphold farm animal welfare commitments, such as sourcing RSPCA Approved chicken.

Watch out for those sneaky eggs!

While sales of cage eggs are steadily dropping in the supermarket, there are still over 10 million hens confined to barren cages in Australia today.

If you're putting cage-free eggs in your shopping basket, have a look at the other products you're buying, to see if they reference cage-free eggs, or if cage eggs are sneaking into those foods.

Many big businesses in Australia are leading the way in moving away from using cage eggs in their products.

Don't underestimate the power of your choices

The decisions you make behind the eggs, meat and seafood you put in your shopping basket are more important than you might realise. Every time you choose higher welfare products, you're sending a message to decision makers that Australians care about farm animal welfare and supporting Australian farmers that are doing the right thing.

Your choices matter, so why not make every grocery shop an opportunity to speak up for farm animals?