There is an unusual amount of cultural confusion around animals. Half of the dogs in America receive Christmas presents, yet few of us ever pause to consider the life of the pig (easily as intelligent as a dog) that becomes our Christmas ham. At the same time that many of us seem eager to expand the circle of our moral consideration to other species (saving wildlife, for example), in our factory farms we’re inflicting more suffering on more animals than at any other time in history.

It is impossible to deny that we owe animals that can feel pain moral consideration, but we have such a strong interest in convincing ourselves that our concern for animals does not require us to stop eating them.

According to the USDA, just under 10 BILLION animals, excluding aquatics, were killed in the US in 2003 through factory farming. The USDA does not track aquatic animals, but estimates that the number of slaughtered sea animals exceeds the number of slaughtered land animals.

Of the 10 billion killed animals, 868 million (8.7%) died due to disease, malnutrition, injury, suffocation, stress, culling (deliberately removing animals because of “undesirable” characteristics), or other factory farming ailments, before reaching slaughter. Egg-laying hens experience the highest rate of non-slaughter deaths, at a staggering 64%, due to the practice of deliberately suffocating all males at birth (because the males don’t lay eggs).

These are mind-boggling numbers, yet so few people make a conscious connection between the meat on their plate and the slaughterhouses. At your next meal, consider the suffering endured by the animal you are about to eat. And consider that you have a choice.

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” -Paul McCartney

“I’m no shrinking violet. I played hockey until half of my teeth were knocked down my throat. And I’m extremely competitive on the tennis court… But that experience at the slaughterhouse overwhelmed me. When I walked out of there, I knew all the physiological, economic, and ecological arguments supporting vegetarianism, but it was the firsthand experience of man’s cruelty to animals that laid the real groundwork for my commitment to vegetarianism.” -Peter Burwash, champion tennis player

A veteran USDA meat inspector from Texas describes what he has seen: “Cattle dragged and choked… knocking ’em four, five, ten times. Every now and then when they’re stunned they come back to life, and they’re up there agonizing. They’re supposed to be re-stunned but sometimes they aren’t and they’ll go through the skinning process alive. I’ve worked in four large [slaughterhouses] and a bunch of small ones. They’re all the same. If people were to see this, they’d probably feel really bad about it. But in a packing house everybody gets so used to it that it doesn’t mean anything.” –Slaughterhouse, 1997
Breakfast: Bagel with “Better Than Cream Cheese,” a non-dairy cream cheese substitute
Lunch: Pasta with pesto
Dinner: Veggie pot pie


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