ETHICAL MEAT? HAVE COMPASSION.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarian.”
― Paul McCartney
In today’s society, violence towards others is treated with the highest degree of punishment. However, in the world of slaughterhouses it is a very different story. Over 68 billion farmed animals are slaughtered every year while tens of billions of fish and sea animals are consumed from the oceans annually. Life obviously hold deep value to human beings. Each world religion reveres the creations of God as sacred while condemning killing. So why are so many animals unnecessarily killed for human pleasure? Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else? With our consumer choices today, we are contributing to the suffering of billions of animals living miserable lives and dying in horrific ways.
We value living things because they are intelligent; we value them because they can feel pain and emotions and we value them because each living thing values its own life. No good person could ever bring themselves to kill a fellow human or a pet; it just isn’t right to kill something that wants to live, something that can feel pain and fear and has its own family that loves it. Hence, it is morally inconsistent to care for some animals while facilitating the death of others. Consider this: If dogs tasted like pork, would you eat them? Of course not! I don’t even have to tell you that it is wrong to kill your neighbor's dog; anyone with a pet knows that animals are intelligent and capable of emotion. They are not ours to exploit and enslave for profit. Unfortunately, not many of us live in or near farms, so it can be difficult to take this understanding –that pets are emotional and intelligent–and apply it to cows, or chicken, or pigs. The value and worth of cows and puppies are the same; the only difference lies within in our perspectives. In fact, in terms of intelligence, pigs are considered smarter than dogs. According to Dr. Donald Broom, a Cambridge University professor and a former scientific adviser to the Council of Europe, pigs “have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly [more so than] three-year-olds.” Pigs, cows, chickens and other forms of livestock and poultry are living things capable of feeling pain and emotion. They have as much of a right to live as any one of us, and we cannot ignore this right simply because it is more convenient to not be compassionate. If we choose to be compassionate in only selective circumstances then that isn’t compassion at all. Who are we to enslave defenseless living beings and play God? Consider these facts detailing cruelty in the meat industry:
- Each egg laying chicken in a factory farm is given less than one half of a square foot of space. They are so crowded together that their beaks are taken off without anesthetic to prevent them from killing one another
- Branding and castration (the cutting off of testicles) without anesthetics are commonplace practices in factory farms.
- Animals are shot in the head with a “captive bolt pistol” similar to nail guns before being slaughtered. However, thousands of livestock each day are still conscious when slaughtered as the “bullet” often misses the brain.
- “Sick pigs, being unprofitable ‘production units’ are clubbed to death on the spot” according to the New York Times.
- Animals raised in factory farms have never experienced grass, the sun, fresh air, or motion. Broiler chickens are genetically engineered to produce the most meat and as a side effect they are unable to walk
- Many animals go mad, and exhibit behaviors such as bar biting and rubbing themselves on the floor until they bleed. “Forget the pig is an animal. Treat him just like a machine in a factory.” - Hog Farm Management Magazine
- The fishing industry kills animals through suffocation, one of the most painful methods of death. Many others are gutted and frozen while still conscious.
- In factory farms, when a hen lays a male chick, it is sent off for culling. Chicks are essentially passed through a giant grinder where they are crushed alive. Male chicks are not profitable because they do not produce eggs and grow too slowly for meat uses.
- Broiler chickens and beef cows are genetically engineered to produce more meat, such that their lifespans are 1/20 of their natural state.
- 26% of chickens raised for meat are born severely crippled and 90% cannot walk by the time they reach slaughter weight.
- Approximately 5% of laying hens die prematurely due to disease and handling
- Every year, over 600,000 chickens and turkeys enter the scalding tank alive in the US
- Chickens bred for meat are arguably the most genetically manipulated of all animals, forced to grow 65 times faster than their bodies normally would, and the industry continually seeks to increase their growth rate
- Dairy cows are treated so badly that their life expectancies are reduced from 20 years to 2 years. They are constantly raped with artificial insemination techniques to keep them pregnant. At birth, calves are separated from their mothers and taken to slaughterhouses. The process of being constantly milked by machines is so taxing that cows have bleeding and infected udders for most of their lives, and are constantly given antibiotics to keep them alive. Cows are also dehorned and their tails are removed without anesthetic.
These are just some of the many examples of cruelty in the meat industry. Don’t be a part of fueling this mechanized mass murder. Every time you purchase a product, you are casting a vote for the kind of companies and practices you support. “Organic” and “grass fed” products are rarely any better. Federal regulations do not specify how much time animals have to spend outside for the product to be considered organic. A corporation can easily substitute grass for corn in their factories and become certified “organic” or “free-range,” fooling thousands of people in the process. In the end, their fates are all the same. No matter what businesses want you to believe, there is no humane way to kill something that doesn’t want to die. Each and every living thing has the right to live.