Recognizing that the welfare of animals is an important component of a healthy and sustainable food system, United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) has worked with the ASPCA to add transparent and meaningful animal welfare standards to its restaurant certification program, REAL Certified. By 2021 all REAL Certified restaurants will be required to source a significant portion of animal products from farms or ranches that are Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane or Global Animal Partnership Steps 2 and above—three welfare certifications recognized by the ASPCA’s Shop With Your Heart campaign.
Surveys show that no matter what they eat, consumers have no appetite for animal cruelty—and they instinctively understand that raising animals in unhealthy, stressful and filthy environments may pose health risks. In recent polling, diners reported they were willing to travel farther and pay more for verifiably higher-welfare options.
USHFC developed REAL (Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership) Certified to be a mark of excellence for foodservice operators committed to nutrition and environmental stewardship, and today certifies nearly 500 restaurants in 32 states. With the addition of these animal welfare standards, REAL Certified becomes a model for consumers, chefs and foodservice operators that value animals’ welfare as a key part of a more ethical food system.
Five REAL Certified establishments, fresh & co, Sabio on Main, Genuine Foods, Ceres Project and Mossback café, have committed to transition at least one major animal product on their menus to be entirely welfare-certified. These five companies collectively serve more than 135,000 meals each week, impacting countless animals’ lives.
In addition to showing dedication to better welfare practices through certification, fresh & co. and Genuine Foods have further committed to transition their chicken meat supply to solely higher-welfare breeds reared in cleaner, more spacious and better-lit housing conditions (as defined by Global Animal Partnership) and to implement a more humane slaughter system for chickens by 2024, all verified by third-party audits.
Through their focus on plant-based menu options and now animal welfare-certified meat, egg, and dairy products, REAL Certified and their establishments represent the more humane and transparent food system that the ASPCA is working to achieve through our Shop With Your Heart initiative. We are looking forward to working with REAL Certified to add more restaurants to their program and improve the lives of farm animals across the country.
If you visit a REAL Certified establishment, make sure to learn which of their animal products are welfare-certified or plant-based, and encourage them to expand these options. And if you’re shopping for food in supermarkets, check our Shop With Your Heart grocery list before you go to find out which brands are welfare-certified.