Due to consumer demand for
inexpensive meat, eggs, and dairy, suppliers are in constant competition to
market their products at the lowest prices possible, no matter how the animals
The farmed animals that suffer are
hidden from view and easy to ignore. But millions of people have discovered the
reality of factory farming and have decided that it’s too cruel to support.
Opposing the cruelties of factory
farming is not an all-or-nothing proposition. From eating more meat-free meals
to going vegetarian or vegan, we can all help create a better world through our
What we choose to eat makes a powerful
statement about whom we are. Actions speak louder than words and making
ethical, compassionate choices affirms our fundamental humanity.
Much as we have awakened to the
full economic and social costs of cigarettes, we will find we can no longer
ignore the costs of mass-producing cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep, and fish to feed
our growing population.
These costs include hugely
inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock feces,
rising rates of which much of our planet’s life depends.
With rising temperatures, rising
sea levels, melting icecaps and glaciers, shifting ocean currents and weather
patterns, climate change is the most serious challenge facing the human race.
It is all very well to say that
individuals must wrestle with their consciousness, but only if their
consciousness are awake and informed. Industrial society, unfortunately, hides
When we picture a farm, visions of
“Old MacDonald’s” come to mind, not the warehouses with 10,000 chickens.
When we look, it’s shocking, as
our childhood pictures have been transformed into stinking factories.
Visiting a confined animal feeding
operation is to enter a world designed according to macabre principals; animals
are machines incapable of feeling pain.
Since no thinking person can
possibly believe this anymore, industrial animal agriculture depends upon a
suspension of disbelief on the part of the people who operate it and a
willingness to avert your eyes and your innate feeling of compassion.
Our own worst nightmare may be
such a place. But it is real life for billions of animals unlucky enough to
have been born under these impersonal steel roofs, into the brief, pitiless
life of a “production unit”.
Virtually all U.S. birds raised
for food are factory farmed. Inside densely populated sheds, vast amounts of
The resultant ammonia levels
commonly cause painful burns to the birds’ eyes and respiratory tracts.
To cut losses from birds pecking
each other, farmers remove a third to a half of the beak from egg-laying hens,
breeding chickens, and most turkeys and ducks. The birds suffer pain for weeks.
If most urban meat eaters were to
visit an industrial broiler house, to see how the birds are raised, and could
see the birds being “harvested” and then being “processed” in a poultry
processing plant they would not be impressed and many would swear off eating
chicken and maybe all other flesh as well.
For modern animal agriculture, the
less the consumer knows about what’s happening before it winds up on their
plate, the better. If this is true, is this then an ethical situation?
And, should we be reluctant to let
people know what really goes on, because we’re not really proud of it and
concerned that it might turn them to vegetarianism?
When we talk about flesh that is
“free-range”, does anyone realize that the exposure to the outdoors by these
creatures may amount to one small exit in an over-crowed shed, as there are no
USDA requirements for indoor or outdoor space? So, if the door is open, these
animals can be labeled “free-range”.
Packed in battery cages, typically
less than half a square foot of floor space per bird, hens can become immobilized
and die of asphyxiation or dehydration. Decomposing corpses are routinely found
in cages with live birds.
Though each hen is less productive
when crowded, the operation as a whole makes more money with a high shocking
density: chickens are cheap, cages are expensive.
By the time their egg production
declines, the hens’ skeletons are so fragile that many suffer broken bones as
they are removed from the cages.
Some flocks are gassed on-site and
those sent to slaughter often endure long journeys and sustain further
The American laying hen passes her
brief life span piled together with a half-dozen other hens in a wire cage
whose floor is the size of a magazine page.
Every natural instinct of this
animal is cut-off, leading to a range of behavioral “vices” that can include
cannibalizing her cage mates and rubbing her body against the wire mesh until it
is featherless and bloody. The 5% or so of hens that cannot bear it and simply
die are built into the cost of production.
Birds with broken legs and wings,
open wounds, and large tumors are shackled and hung on the slaughter line,
while some of the birds are left writhing on the floor for hours beforehand.
Workers punch, kick, throw, and
mutilate live birds; eggs are ripped out of the birds’ bodies and thrown at
co-workers, and the heads of the birds are ripped off the birds that were
trapped inside the transport cages.
Contrary to popular belief, chickens
are not mindless, simple automations, but are complex behaviorally, do quite
well in learning, show a rich social organization, and have a diverse
repertoire of calls.
Anyone who has kept barnyard
chickens recognizes their significant differences in personality.
What about the “little piggy that
went to market”? Well, these piglets in confinement operations are weaned from
their mothers 2 to 3 weeks after birth compared with 13 weeks in nature because
they gain weight faster on their hormone, antibiotic, fortified feed. This
premature weaning leaves the pigs with a lifelong craving to be of them.
The USDA’s recommended solution to
the problem is called “tail docking”. Using a pair of pliers, without any
anesthetic, most but not all of the tail is snipped off.
Why leave the little stump?
Because the whole point of the exercise is not to remove the object of
tail-biting so much as to render it more sensitive.
Now, a bite on the tail is so
painful that even the most demoralized pig will mount a struggle to avoid it.
At this point you might think it
can’t get any worse. Think again!
Pregnant pigs were confined in
two-foot wide stalls, only able to take one step forward or back. Many of these
pigs have deep infected sores and scrapes from constantly rubbing against the
Workers clip the piglets’ tails
with dull pliers; perform castrations, rip out the piglets’ testes with their
hands; and tattoo sows by repeatedly driving a spiked mallet into the pigs’
flesh, again, all without anesthesia.
If the anti-cruelty laws that
protect pets were applied to farmed animals, many of the routine U.S. farming
practices would be illegal in all 50 states.
Are dogs and cats really so different from
chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows that one group deserves legal protection from
cruelty, while the other deserves virtually no protection at all?
Disregard for farmed animals
persists because few people realize the ways in which these creatures are
mistreated, and even fewer actually witness the abuse.
Once aware, most people are
appalled – not because they believe in animal rights, but because they believe
that animals feel pain and that morally decent human beings should try to
prevent pain whenever possible.
Do we, as humans, having an
ability to reason and to communicate abstract ideas verbally and in writing,
and to form ethical and moral judgments using the accumulated knowledge of the
ages, have the right to take the lives of other sentient beings when we are not
forced to do so by hunger or dietary need, but rather do so for the somewhat
callous reason that we like the taste of flesh and blood?
In Hawaii, the House Finance
Committee unanimously passed a bill that would allow Hawaii to construct,
maintain and run the only State owned slaughterhouse in the United States.
Despite a dozen protest
testimonies and despite over 300 written protest testimonies, ignorance
While testimonies were being
given, those testimonies were constantly met with the words, “let’s summarize
now” or “speed things up” or “there’s a 3 minute limit”.
Yet, when the Hawaii Dep’t of
Agriculture Head, Russell Kokubun, spoke, the Legislators held on to his every
All this coming from the guy that is a front
man for the special interest groups like Monsanto. Mr. Kokubun single handedly
killed the GMO labeling bill.
This bill was actually the
brainchild of the Cattlemen’s Association.
But, not wanting to assume any
responsibility for the disastrous ramifications regarding environmental
destruction or loss to life and limb, which is typical in a slaughterhouse,
their paid lobbyist successfully convinced our lolo (nut case) politicians that
they should foot the bill of construction – $1.9 million. And once again Hawaii
remains in first place as the per capita champion of the colon-cancer capitol
of the world.
What do we do to try to instill
compassion in humans? How do we get them to realize what they eat is the result
of immense cruelty, torture and pain?
Even more important is how do we
wean people away from their insatiable addiction to the flesh and blood of
Compassion begins in one’s heart.
If the heart is hard, compassion
will not be present. If the heart is soft, compassion for all living beings
There is a very interesting point
made in various Eastern scriptures about animal slaughter and its future
effects on the consumers aka karma.
Granted there will be many to deny
this but usually the deniers are the ones entrenched in their behaviors.
The ancient scriptures state that
for every hair on the animal’s back, those involved from the raiser of the
creature down to the person that washes the dish the flesh was on have to take
birth in a body like the one that was slaughtered.
So, while in a human form, which
is the ultimate gift of the soul’s evolution, it is the only form in which the
driver of the vehicle, the soul, can make a choice. All the lower forms are
governed by the laws of nature and bear no karma. They simply evolve until
reaching the human form.
Once there, one of two things
happen: One will endeavor for as much sense gratification as possible or
somehow one will embark upon a spiritual path endeavoring to follow God’s
Doing the former leads to another
material body with no guarantees on it being a human form. Doing the latter
will start a purification process and insure a future human form allowing that
soul to pick up where he left off spiritually until he finally goes home to the
spiritual world and never has to come back to the material world again.
Killing vegan foods to eat also
bears karma. But, in an ancient scripture, God says, “If one offers Me, with
love and devotion, plant foods, water or a flower, I will accept it”. In other
words, if all plant sources are offered to God, He will remove the karma.
Yeah, yeah, reincarnation can be
accepted or rejected. But the truth is the truth and we all know that the truth
will set us free.