In the Western world, the production of meat and scientific purposes are the most important types of animal use. Laboratory animal legislation on supranational and on national level not only aims at reducing the number of animal experiments and the number of laboratory animals, but explicitely pursues the long-term objective to completely substitute the use of live animals by alternative methods. Animal protection legislation relating to farm animals, on the other hand, does not include any mechanism to reduce the number of animals used for meat production. Whereas animals may be used for experimental purposes only if the animal experiment is regarded as indispensable for objectives listed in laboratory animal law and the experiment has to be substituted by alternative methods if possible, there is no need under the scope of general animal protection legislation to assess the question if meat consumption is indispensable or may be supplemented or even substituted by alternative foodstuff. Similarly, despite notoriously harmful consequences of meat production on large scale not only for animal welfare, but also for the environment and for human health, there is no need to assess the overall harm-benefit-ratio of meat production, whereas every scientific project involving live animals has to pass a harm-benefit-analysis in the course of the authorization process. Although laboratory animals in general are not exposed to more severe pain or suffering than farm animals, the use of animals for scientific purposes proves to be regulated in a far more restrictive way than the use of animals for meat production.
Keywords: meat production, animal experiments, animal protection legislation, alternatives, principle of proportionality