Health Food

Whole Foods Claims To Have “Ethically-Sourced” Beef, But At The Cost Of 1,500 Imprisoned Wild Horses

A Whole Foods beef supplier demanded that 1,500 wild horses be fearfully captured and removed from their designated habitat—and the federal government complied.

Credit: Cowboy Showcase

Credit: Cowboy Showcase

Shopping at Whole Foods may be a little pricier than your average grocery store, but customers who shop there expect a higher quality product that is usually organic and ethically-sourced. Though the beef that is supplied to Whole Foods makes claims of being “ethically-sourced” and must adhere to a number of ethical requirements for its cattle, it comes at the cost of over 1,000 wild horses on land in Oregon that is designated as a habitat for wild horses.

Cowspiracy reported that in November of last year, at the request of a beef supplier for Whole Foods, the U.S. government systematically removed these wild horses that it has laws in place to protect. At a federal level, the horses are protected from being hunted, trapped, killed, or harassed, yet that’s what the government that enforces these laws seems to have done to these horses themselves.

This land that is designated for wild horses, land that has been made smaller as the years go on, also happens to be the same land that allows ranchers to graze their cattle. Since the cattles’ grazing needs are so much greater than the wild horses‘ and the natural resources are already scarce, the government decided to round up over 1,000 horses and put them in federal holding facilities where they will likely remain for the rest of their lives.

Credit: Wild Horse Education

Credit: Wild Horse Education

The Bureau of Land Management, which is the government group in charge of the round up and land designation, rounded up 1,500 horses to make room for 1,700 cattle by flying in low helicopters to scare the horses into running up to 10 miles into their fenced traps. Once they were corralled into the crowded pens, the family dynamics were torn apart, as foals were taken from mares and mares were taken from stallions.

As though the fear of now being in captivity after a life of freedom is not enough, these wild horses no longer have their family to help cope with the scary change. It has been reported that sometimes horses try so desperately to escape the fences to be back with their families that they break their necks and die in the process. Ginger Kathrens, a filmmaker who documents these round ups, told NBC News,

“I know how much they love their families and their freedom. And in an instant they lose both.”

By the end of the round up, 16 wild horses had already died, mostly from broken legs or ribs.

The BLM also has a “liberal” euthanasia policy, and typically kills the horses that have physical defects, such as club feet or blindness, despite the fact that these horses survived their whole lives with these defects in the wild. The aim of the BLM with this project was to reduce the number of wild horses occupying these designated lands to 100, a stark contrast to the thriving population of nearly 2,000.

In the video below you can see a scared foal failing to keep up with its family and losing them in the process, only to then have ropes thrown around its neck as it thrashes around and is forced into the pen. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, the group behind the video, also states at the end that,

“Whole Foods Market claims that it strives towards ethical food sourcing, but there is nothing ethical about the way wild horses and wildlife are wiped out to make room for more private livestock grazing.”

By purchasing the meat from the cattle ranchers that caused this round up in order to make room for their cattle, Whole Foods is essentially supporting this practice by not allowing room for mustang-safe meat requirements on their list of ethical requirements. Though the round up is over for now, there is still action you can take if you are concerned for the future of wild horses. You can contact Whole Foods using this template letter to make it known that you would like for them to adopt mustang-safe meat standards or, at the suggestion of Cowspiracy to avoid purchasing meat altogether, try the 30 Day Vegan Challenge.

This article (Whole Foods Claims To Have “Ethically-Sourced” Beef, But At The Cost Of 1,500 Imprisoned Wild Horses) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and

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