If every person in the United States switched out 10 common animal-based products with plant-based alternatives for a single day, they could save animals from more than 1 billion days of suffering, according to a new study from research nonprofit Faunalytics.

With funding from The Food Systems Research Fund, Faunalytics set out to determine which commonly consumed animal-derived foods cause the most amount of days suffering and deaths for farmed animals, surveying 8,000 people nationwide to see which products they consumed most frequently. Then, researchers coupled survey answers with public information gleaned from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

After assessing nearly 100 animal-derived products for the total number of days farm animals typically spend suffering to create them, along with the number of deaths involved in each product, researchers determined that if every person in the United States stopped eating these 10 foods for a single day, they could save animals approximately 1.16 billion days of suffering and abuse:

  • Scrambled Eggs/Omelets: 201 million days of animal suffering per day of consumption
  • Chicken Shreds/Ground: 171 million days of suffering per day of consumption
  • Unbreaded Chicken Breasts/Fillets: 164 million days of suffering per day of consumption
  • Unbattered Fish Fillets: 149 million days of suffering per day of consumption
  • Chicken Strips/Nuggets: 122 million days of suffering per day of consumption
  • Fried Eggs: 99 million days of suffering per day of consumption
  • Unbreaded Chicken Parts: 96 million days of suffering per day of consumption
  • Fish Shreds/Ground: 59 million days of suffering per day of consumption
  • Breaded Chicken Breasts/Fillets: 56 million days of suffering per day of consumption
  • Battered Fish Filets: 52 million days of suffering per day of consumption

With nationwide outbreaks of confirmed COVID-19 cases in meat packing and processing plants, more people have started turning to plant-based alternatives. But for those who have never before considered a vegan or reduced-meat diet, it can be difficult to know where to start, said Jo Anderson, the research director for Faunalytics.

Anderson noted that cutting out all animal products is the most meaningful way to help animals used in the farming industry. But cutting out just one animal product “can also make a big difference,” she made clear.

Transitioning to a more plant-based diet by eliminating the products on the researcher’s suffering-infused foods lists will, according to Anderson, maximize the benefits of people’s choices for the involved animals.

Additional data also breaks down the number of non-human animal lives that individual consumers can save by forgoing certain food products. For example, one fish life is saved for every two servings of battered fish fillets.

“Everyone has to start somewhere,” Anderson said. “This is helpful for consumers who want to eat fewer animal products but are unable to make the full commitment to a plant-based diet, as it suggests which products should be reduced first to benefit animals the most.”

Adopting a plant-based diet can help with the environment and your physical health, too.

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