Your first thoughts while biting into a juicy hamburger are probably not “where did this meat come from?” and “how was it raised?” But maybe they should be.
The Humane Eating Project is a mobile app launched today that makes it easier to find nearby restaurants with “cruelty-free” menu options.
“Its primary use is to allow people to find restaurants that provide meat from animals that have been humanely treated,” company spokesperson Cecily Trowbridge told VentureBeat in a sneak peek of the app last month. “It doesn’t discourage one lifestyle or another. It simply facilitates making a conscientious choice when eating out. People can feel good about these decisions on a daily basis – it means they’re not supporting factory farming, which is where all the truly egregious behavior goes down.”
Behind the app is a database of over 16,000 restaurants in the U.S. that have vegan/vegetarian menus or explicitly state that the meat is humanely raised, meaning the animal has a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, had sufficient space, shelter, and resting areas, and can “engage in natural behaviors.”
The Humane Eating Project prompts you to search for restaurants in your location. You can view them in map or a list form, and every result has a tag for “humanely raised,” “vegetarian,” and others, with a description of the restaurants, Yelp ratings, pricing, directions, and contact information.
The practices in the industrial meat system are horrifying, but the reality is that our minds are generally elsewhere when we sit down for a casual dinner or order a chicken sandwich for lunch.
“The happy farmer with the happy cows, that’s the rare exception, not the norm,” America for Animals CTO Tim Drees said. “These are concentration camps for animals. You have to open yourself up to the issue and take time to consume information about these factory farms, but the information is hard to digest.”
The Humane Eating project’s mission is to take some of the effort out of finding humanely raised (or vegetarian) restaurant options. The hope is that it will encourage more people to make “conscientious choices” and support farms and restaurants that make sustainable practices a priority.
“This could alter the way people eat out, eventually eliminating the ability of restaurants to serve dishes that require outright animal abuse like shark-fin soup and foie gras via a Watch List feature,” Trowbridge said. “It’s crowdsourced, so people will be able to put their own two cents in as well — it’s the beginning of an international community.”
The Humane Eating Project was created by America for Animals, a nonprofit organization that promotes advocacy efforts and encourages people to fight animal cruelty in their communities. Most of its work is done through technology, by building Web and mobile apps that enable advocates to connect, organize, and participate.
It is based in San Diego.