Survey: Nearly one-third of Americans support ban on slaughterhouses

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Approximately one-third of Americans support a ban on slaughterhouses, according to the most recent Oklahoma State University (OSU) "Food Demand Survey" (FooDS). FooDS, a monthly online survey with a sample size of at least 1,000 individuals, tracks consumer preferences and sentiment on the safety, quality and price of food consumed at home and away from home, with a particular focus on meat demand.

"The number frankly seemed outrageous, given that more than 90% of Americans eat meat regularly and it is rather difficult to do so without slaughtering houses," the OSU researchers noted.

47%, said they wanted to ban slaughterhouses. Participants who agreed with this statement were asked a follow-up question: "Were you aware that slaughterhouses are where livestock are killed and processed into meat, such that, without them, you would not be able to consume meat?" Approximately 73% of participants stated that they are aware that slaughterhouses are where livestock are killed and processed into meat.

"Suppose we take the 27.1% of individuals who did not apparently understand what a slaughterhouse is, and we change their answer to the statement 'I support a ban on slaughterhouses' from 'yes' to 'no'. That still leaves about 34% of Americans saying they wish to ban slaughterhouses."

The researchers said there are a number of reasons that this 34% is an overestimate. For example, they said a number of questions that came before this question (e.g., "I have some discomfort with the way animals are used in the food industry") might cause people to be less pro-meat than they really are.

"Had the survey began with questions like 'I eat meat on a regular basis' and 'Meat is a healthy food' it is likely the responses would have been different. However, this is not a criticism of the Sentience Institute survey, but a bias inherent in most surveys (including FooDS)."

Yet even after acknowledging these inherent biases, the FooDS researchers said the 34% number is very high, much higher than what was expected.