Factory Farms

I saw the ad on tv last night. It made me cry, just as much as I cried the first time I saw it. I watched it again just now and again I cried. You can watch it here.

I am a meat eater and I am ok with that. However, more and more the cruelty of our meat industry tears at my heart. And more and more I can see that there really CAN be a world without factory farms.

Stop for a moment and think. What did our ancestors do? My mum was born on a farm in country NSW and I know they slaughtered their own meat. It was just too far to drive into town. Even after they moved into town they kept chickens for eggs and meat. My grandfather, her father, who was also raised on the farm would most definitely have eaten meat either raised by his father and older brothers (he was number 10 of 11) or at the very least, raised by his uncles. My father’s family were city folk but I reckon you wouldn’t need to go back too far to find backyard chickens raised for eggs and for a Sunday roast. It was just how it was done.

Nowadays, meat is something that comes in nearly bloodless form, definitely without skin or wool or hair, on an unenvironmentally friendly styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic, already cut into convenient sized pieces depending upon our need. The offasl is also dealt with quietly and away from our sensitivities. We are so far removed from the sources of our meat that we can just about ignore the fact that an animal has died to provide it. And the fact that we have allowed factory farms to proliferate shows that we do in fact ignore the origins of our steak or roast.

In factory farms animals are packed in to very tightly combined spaces. How many can we squeeze in the maximise production? Think of that crowded elevator at 5pm on a stinking hot Friday as everyone is making their way home. Squashed in with other people, everyone perspiring and uncomfortable. Now stop that lift, wedge the door open a mere 20cm and place a bowl of food for you to eat. But it’s not the meal you are used to eating, just a bowl of oats (not rolled or processed oats like we usually eat in our porridge either) with no milk or sweetenener or flavour. And that meal is placed there every time. It’s not food we are designed to eat. Now, you need to use the toilet… I won’t go on, but this is pretty similar to the life of factory farmed animals. Unnatural foods (cows are supposed to eat grass, not corn and neither chickens nor pigs are vegetarian in nature – both eat insects for starters), pumped full of antibiotics to prevent infections that are being shared in unsanitary and crowded conditions (think how cholera and dysentery spread in concentration and refugee camps) and no natural light, just artificial lights kept low to conserve electricity or switched on and off at unnatural intervals to convince you to lay faster.

We are already low meat consumers. We would have a meal with meat in it maybe once every 10 days with the exception of ham. We do eat a bit of ham. Our egg consumption is pretty high although I buy free-range eggs (I have my suspicions on how free range free range eggs really are though) or from our own backyard, mostly organically raised, free-ranging grass accessing and hiding their nests hens. I have no intention nor the inclination to give up eating meat, a personal choice that I hope can be respected. Believe me, it is something I have thought about and it’s not just a non-choice of that’s how I’ve always done it. The true test will come. I also believe for optimum health that animal products are required in our diets unless you try to substitute with synthetic ingredients but I also completely respect those that choose white meat vegetarian, full vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. It is a totally personal choice and it gets my complete respect. One day, in the not too distant future I hope to be able to raise most of my own animal products. That way I can ensure that they live clean and healthy lives, enjoying room to roam and be the animal that they are. In the meantime though I do pledge to you all to start making a change to eating non-factory farmed meat.

I urge you to watch this film, I really do. And I urge you to think about what you can personally do to make factory farms an embarrassing part of our history, not of our present.

Caged eggs. Makes you think twice about that omelette.

Or that Parma down at the pub.

Steak? Hamburger? More like sardines.

Christmas ham? This image is rather close to home for me as a breastfeeding mother.

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10 thoughts on “Factory Farms

  1. Paul - The Kind Little Blogger says:

    Argh! Sorry to let rip, but why is eating meat such a “personal choice” that ought to be respected? Honestly, I have read pretty much the same line a handful of times today. Why isn’t slavery a “personal choice”? Or sexism? Or racism? Or we could go further; why isn’t murder a “personal choice”? The principles are quite the same; exploiting one agent for another agents gain (perceived or actual).

    To me, with respect, it seems this line is used as a last resort. You know that slaughtering animals in unfavourable conditions is bad. You request more favourable conditions. But what is enough? Is there such a thing as humane slaughter? If so, and by law this can be done, you should have no problem with a neighbourhood dog being slaughtered and butchered for the same end as you benefit from slaughtering a cow or pig.

    • I choose to respect that people make choices that suit them and their lifestyle and for me I choose to eat meat. I believe humans were designed to eat meat, as a lion was built to be a carnivore, or a monkey an omnivore. Each species has its different needs and requirements and I believe that eating meat is beneficial to humans.

      Do you have an issue with a lion that eats meat? Or a cat? Or a dog? Yes, dogs can indeed be vegetarian ( I knew one who was) but most definitely in the wild these are animals that are predominantly carnivorous or at the very least, omnivorous.

      To me the idea of eating dog is an absolutely repugnant one and I am pretty hurt you would suggest that I would have no problem with it. It also seems to be the line most thrown at people who make a choice to eat meat. In all fairness though, ours is a culture that does not view dog as a food-meat, although a quick look at wikipedia shows that far more countries and a far wider range of countries than I could have believed have a history (including until recently or even currently) of eating dog.

      I understand that we have polar opposite views on this. I respect that. My journey to sustainability and to creating a better life for myself and my family is most definitely taking us down a path of better health, less processed foods and more local, sustainably and ethically raised foods and this is a place that I have reached by reading, researching and looking deep within myself. THAT is why I ask that this choice be respected. I have questioned my choices, questioned my beliefs, questioned what I was raised to believe was true or normal and I have found answers that make sense to me on all levels.

      I do not ask for that respect as a ‘last resort’ but as a courtesy that I have not made my choices lightly. But they are my choices.

      • Paul - The Kind Little Blogger says:

        Thanks for engaging with me on this.

        Firstly, I think your position is confused. As in one breath you say that it is a personal choice and in another you say it is a biological imperative.

        As for it being a biological imperative, there is good evidence to suggest otherwise. Even if we were meant to eat meat–for biological reasons only; I shan’t be appealing to any God here, as that begs even more questions–we don’t need to eat meat, or any other animal product for that matter. We differ from true carnivores in so many ways: biologically and intellectually. We have the capacity to reason; they don’t. They are merely doing what they need to do in order to survive. If we needed to eat animals in order to survive, I would wholeheartedly support it.

        I can understand why you are repulsed at the idea of eating dog. They have particular status in our society; for no good reason I might add. I love dogs and would never eat one–the thought repulses me–but I am not any more morally opposed to it than I am any other animal.

        I don’t doubt your commitment to living the good life. The fact that you think about your choices is a step ahead the vast majority of people. That’s one thing we have in common: we think before we act in every aspect of our lives, especially about important things like food.

        I don’t engage in these discussions to “turn people”. I engage in them to drill down on the reasons why people aren’t vegan and then share with them where their thinking may be wrong. I haven’t got all the answers. I may be wrong. But this should be a to-and-fro; not stagnant and exclusive.

        Thanks. 🙂

    • Killing dogs is already considered legal… Animal shelter kill millions each year. I notice the focus of this post and ad is australian but in the US over 6 million animals go to shelters each year and half of those animals are euthenized each year. So killing millions of dogs and cats is already legal. Further more, even with low-quality food do you know how many animals must die to feed the millions of animals in captivity? Try handing the tigers at the zoo some GMO soy-protien-isolate and see how much THEY like it.
      Also, we have the good grace of getting to choose what we eat. If Whiskers serves a purpose in my life, such as mousing or companionship, why would I kill her? If Spot is a great guardian and helps keep my bed warm at night so why would I eat my dog? And further more, both of these animals interact with me in a way I relate to, unlike chickens, because they litterally evolved to interact with humans. In other countries dogs and cats ARE considered a source of food, and I bet if you were starving to death you would think twice about Fluffy down the block. In fact in other countries, our way of keeping pets and treating them with respect as if they were humans is extremely offensive. Why are you feeding that stray mutt when what you’re feeding could be food for a starving child? Why build a shelter for those feral cats when you could be helping the elderly or homeless man down the street have a better quality of life?
      And in fact, sexism, slavery and racism exist in lots of places in the world. So does murder. So why are you out trying to bash on people who “abuse” other species by trying to give them a better life before you have fixed the abuse towards your own?

      Meat isn’t going away. It’s ingrained in our very genetic code to eat meat. We could not have evolved without it. So what this blogger has done is supported a practical way of treating animals which is something worthy of respect. They don’t say “Don’t eat meat, don’t do what you want”, they just say “do it better”.
      If you take a vegetarian-for-all stance you are not supporting a practical change, you are supporting an extreme change. You are not supporting changes towards a solution for all, you’re supporting changes towards your PERSONAL solution. I suggest to earn some respect of your own you open up your mind and stop being as extreme as the very rasicts and murderers you mentioned and move towards a more practical goal.

      • Paul - The Kind Little Blogger says:

        “So why are you out trying to bash on people who “abuse” other species by trying to give them a better life before you have fixed the abuse towards your own?”

        I’m not bashing anyone. Merely trying to engage in a discourse concerning a very important issue. I subscribe to the notion that we can walk and chew gum. Lots of issue need fixing. Some concern humans, others non-humans, others the environment. To say that we should concentrate on one and not the others is unnecessary. We ought to deal with them all.

        “Meat isn’t going away.”

        Yeah it is, at a rapid rate. People are becoming vegetarian at an increasing rate. Even more are reducing their meat intake drastically. This is all because of the awareness raising that is going on. (Usually lead by animal welfarist organisation staffed by vegans who think baby steps are the key.)

        “If you take a vegetarian-for-all stance you are not supporting a practical change, you are supporting an extreme change.”

        Quite right. Just as I don’t support “practical change” towards child abuse, sexism, racism, or homophobia. I am an abolitionist. To support “baby steps” is to say it is okay to do something you think is wrong provided you at least consider going all the way.

        “[S]top being as extreme as the very racists and murderers you mentioned.”

        That’s the most ridiculous thing to say. I’m extreme in the same way that a racist or murderer is because I ask for the abolition of violence and exploitation. This doesn’t even deserve to be addressed.

  2. narf77 says:

    Humans are actually omnivores…like it or not. I am a vegan and I totally accept Steve’s desire to eat the occasionally meaty meal. I even hold our roosters while he chops off their heads…I can feel a drumming out of the vegan confraturnity coming on but lets just say that some vegans tend to get rabid and frothy about all things to do with their point of view. Some of us drink…some smoke…some ride pushbikes in front of cars in tandem in a reckless disregard for life…people are going to get choices in life and to choose to eat animals that have been raised organically and in a happy healthy environment, you are choosing to eliminate the cruelty of battery and intensive farming. I won’t be judging you any day soon because of your degustory choices and applaud your honesty about intensive farming and where our nameless vacuum packed so far removed from our conciousness supermarket meat actually comes from.

    • Wow! I’m not sure I could even hold a rooster like that at this early stage in the game but I do eventually plan to be involved at harvest time. It’s a big change for me though and one I’m still getting my head around. Thanks Narf77.

    • Paul - The Kind Little Blogger says:

      We are omnivores insofar as we can eat both meat and plants. We can also thrive on a plant-based diet as you know being a fellow vegan. We are also moral creatures; we can make choices, even about what we eat.

      The choice argument doesn’t work. Because I can then use it as a defence for all sorts of horrific acts.

      • narf77 says:

        I prefer to show by my actions than pelt other people by guilt. It doesn’t work and it makes people hate vegans and dub us all fanatics. We can push what we believe but does that make us any better than religeous fanatics or terrorists when we insist on the entire world living the way that we do? We are going to have to learn with the fact that the world is never going to be 100% vegan and that ethical meat production with reduced consumption is probably the best outcome.

  3. Paul everything in life is a choice. We choose to get out of bed in the morning, we choose whether or not to have a shower, we choose whether or not to go to work, we choose whether or not to eat meat. EVERYTHING in life is a choice. You choose to be vegan. No one is condemning you for that, but seriously when you enforce your views on people that way you have on this page, it makes people question you. Quite frankly, if becoming vegan is going to make me as arrogant and narrow-minded as you, then I sure as hell won’t become one anytime soon. I suggest you start respecting peoples CHOICES or leave this page. Rabid Little Hippy does not deserve what you’re dishing out.

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