Another World Is Possible: Ending Live Exports

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Live Transport of Cattle, Turkey-Bulgaria 2017 | Credit: Compassion in World Farming

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”  Arundhati Roy


Tomorrow is Ban Live Exports: International Awareness Day, an opportunity to shine a light on the terrible cruelty endured by millions of cattle, pigs, sheep and other animals when they are transported long distances, often across continents, in horrific conditions.

It is also a chance to galvanise support to bring an end to this cruel trade and to remind policy makers that we will continue to campaign until this horrific cruelty is stopped. 

This year’s focus is on achieving an EU ban on live exports and on the eve of this day of action I’m delighted to introduce Mandy Carter, Compassion’s Global Head of Campaigns as my special blog guest.

Mandy is responsible for leading our international campaigns work with a focus on the highest impact. She has worked in animal protection across the globe for over 16 years, including at SAFE in New Zealand and Respect for Animals in the UK. Successes include securing a huge win on the ambitious ‘End the Cage Age’ Europeans Citizens’ Initiative to end cage farming in the EU, overseeing major investigations into the dairy industry, and working with supermarkets in New Zealand to get them to go cage-free, positively affecting the lives of 40% of hens.


There are few issues that create as much anger among animal lovers as the highly unethical live export industry.

Animals are often transported in extreme temperatures, causing enormous pain and distress.

Caring people are rightly outraged that millions of live farmed animals are still forced to suffer being transported over long distances every year by road, sea, rail and air. They endure horrific conditions – overcrowding, extremes of temperature, and enormous pain and distress – only to face what is often an inhumane death at their destination. As the Guardian reports, in 1988, the global trade in all live animals was worth $716m (£548m); by 2017 that had risen to a whopping $21bn.  

Millions of animals are transported over long distances across the world every year.

I lived and worked in New Zealand for many years, campaigning against live exports. It was well known that the pregnant dairy cows exported to China by sea on a regular basis were destined to live in intensive factory farms. At the same time as exporting cows to these cruel systems, the NZ Government was boasting inexplicably of its high standards  of animal welfare. I was elated when they announced a ban on all live exports in 2021.  

The UK and EU Situation

The UK Government is expected to keep its promise to end live exports for slaughter and fattening through The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. Compassion’s UK team has been keeping up the pressure through high-profile campaigns, such as when they ran station-wide advertising at Westminster tube station to target policymakers on their way to and from work. 

Exported animals often endure horrific conditions in overcrowded vehicles.

This year there is a crucial chance to ban live exports at EU level as the Commission is currently reviewing the law that permits live exports. We’re calling for a ban on live exports beyond the EU; an 8-hour maximum journey time within the EU and a ban on the transport of unweaned animals.

The writing is clearly on the wall. Change is coming. But when will we see an end to live exports globally? 

As with factory farming, this trade is driven by the huge push for us to eat more and more meat. Yet this insatiable appetite for cheap meat and dairy is not only a huge source of animal cruelty, but the main driver of climate change, species extinction, pollution, soil degradation, and antibiotic resistance. 

Credit: Compassion in World Farming

We know that the well-being of animals, people and the planet are interconnected. We can’t have one without the others. So, by reducing our reliance on meat and dairy we can help end live exports, end factory farming, save wildlife from extinction, and leave a planet fit for future generations.

Make a Difference

We can all make a difference by shifting towards plant-based diets and eating less meat and dairy.  Wherever you are in the world, you can also show your support for a ban on this cruel trade by taking part in the Ban Live Exports: International Awareness Day on 14 June. Watch our new video – Hell Tours – which highlights the cruelty of live exports through a spoof travel agency advertisement, take part in our Twitter storm with #BanLiveExports on the 14th, or sign our petition. 

Later in 2022 we’ll be sharing our new campaign with you which directly addresses the links between meat consumption, intensive farming and its enablers – like live export – as well as climate. We’re creating a mass global movement for change, and with it, we’ll help end the live export trade too.

Together we can banish the cruel live export trade to where it belongs – in history books.

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