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Joanna wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it a sin to buy meat and dairy from grocery stores where most meat and dairy come from factory farms that treat animals with unnecessary cruelty, or is it OK?

I think my cooperation is remote and maybe justified because I'm buying food to eat, something not necessarily bad and also because I'm not sure 100 percent all the stores buy from these places.

A priest I asked already said no but I wanted to double check.


  { Is it a sin to buy meat and dairy from stores whose factory farms treat animals with cruelty? }

Mike replied:

Dear Joanna,

Your priest is correct; no, it is not a sin.

It is sad that we live in a culture that treats animals with more care and concern than a baby in a mother's womb.

One, the animal, only has a mortal soul; the other, the baby in the mother's womb has an immortal, eternal soul. Check out my piece on, The Life of the soul:

Genesis 1:26 states:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Nevertheless, the Catechism does say this:

II. Respect for Persons and their Goods

Respect for the integrity of creation

2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. (cf. Genesis 1:28-31) Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation. (cf. Encyclical Letter by His Holiness Pope St. John Paul II Centesimus Annus 37-38)

2416 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. (cf. Matthew 6:26; Daniel 3:79-81) Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. (cf. Genesis 2:19-20; Genesis 9:1-4) Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

I hope my answer and this portion of the Catechism puts these issues in a proper perspective for you.


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