Factory farming is a defined by Merriam Webster as “ : a large industrialized farm; especially: a farm on which large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost” (Webster). These factory farms are where most of the United States get their meats. In a 2016 article “Behind a Veil of Secrecy: Animal Abuse, Factory farms, and Ag- Gag Legislation” the numbers show that “On any given day, a single one of these establishments ‘produces’ in excess of 1000, cattle, 2500 swine, 55,000 turkeys, 125,000 chickens, or 82,000 laying hens”( Ostrow ). According to What’s Wrong With Factory Farming, “the practices that comprise factory farming evolved as a result of competition between firms to produce commodities- mainly milk and meat-at minimal cost”(Anomaly). The fact that consumers are unaware of how their meat is treated prior to and during slaughter didn’t happen by chance. There are three major problems with factory farming. First, factory farming is regulated by federal government as agriculture product as opposed to viewing the animals as the sentient beings they are. This leaves animals intended for meat consumption unprotected under animal rights laws. The second problem is the environment we share with these animals and how these factory farms and slaughterhouses are impacting not only the animals heath but the ignorant consumers’. The last notable issue is the inhumane treatment of the animals and the cruelty they are forced to endure throughout their life cycle.
The agricultural industry is a for profit business. Their goal is to make money. The animals they breed, raise, and kill are seen as product not the living breathing animals they are. According to Ostrow, “replacement are the core values of animal husbandry with values of efficiency and productivity, where instead of farmers addressing the needs of the animals to produce a quality product, it is animal that must meet the need of the industry” (Behind A Veil of Secrecy: Animal Abuse, Factory Farms, and Ag Legislation). The federal government has no laws specifically designed for these animals because “Historically, a harm caused to an animal was viewed as harm to the animal’s owner and to his propriety interests, not as harm to the animal itself since property can have no self interest” ( Ostrow 2016). Due to the federal government viewing these animals as products instead of animal “ not one federal law relates to the condition in which farm animals are handled, housed, and raised” ( Ostrow 2016). The federal government has left each state to enact laws to protect each individual states animal rights as they see fit. While some states like California have passed laws for the interest of their factory farms animals,the agriculture industry who oversees factory farms have found was to get around laws. If state laws make it difficult for factory farms and slaughterhouse to operate the farms simply move to states with laws to protect the interest of the farmer.
Another major problem with factory farming and slaughterhouses is the birth of bigger stronger viruses that multiply and live on our share earth. These virus are a direct result of factory farming and the attempt to keep their product marketable. In Anomaly’s article he explains “the advent of animal agriculture brought a steady supply of protein to people, but it also increased the transmission of viruses carried by animals, and spurred the evolution of existing viruses” ( What’s Wrong With Factory Farming ).Anomaly say there are a multitude of reasons that animals on these farms get sick unlike animals in the wild. “Crowding animals together in close condiment can induce stress and suppress their immune system”(What’s Wrong With Factory Farming ). In addition to these animals being so stressed to the point of getting sick, because these animals are housed so close together virus transmit more easily. “ Viral transmission is facilitated by animals being kept in proximity to one another” ( What’s Wrong With Factory Farming). The close contact where the animals are housed indoors coupled with lack of sunshine or ventilation between different species “allows viruses to survive longer without a host” ( Anomaly, What’s Wrong With Factory Farming ). Due to outbreaks in viruses it is common practice for factory farms to give animals antibiotics.”Nearly half of all antibiotics worldwide are given to farm animals to promote growth and prevent diseases” ( What’s Wrong With Factory Farming) Theses antibiotics aren’t given to animal if they are sick, they are given before the animal gets sick. This is know as “sub therapeutic” The thought process behind giving animals these preventive antibiotics is if the animals have the antibiotic in them already they will be less likely to get sick. Unfortunately the use of sub therapeutic antibiotics has started a chain reaction that can be described as unsavory. Using sub therapeutic antibiotics provokes bacteria to evolve. This evolved bacteria become antibiotic resistant bacteria. These bacteria manifest into illness that there are no antibiotics to cure. In an article titled Do They Not Bleed “The uses of non therapeutic antibiotics in farmed animals contributes to anti microbial resistance in humans, where critical drugs lose effectiveness” (Brown 2011). These super bacteria not only effect those who work on the farm but those who consume the meat. Anomaly states “animal waste from factory farms that contain antibiotic resistant bacteria is often used to fertilize crops, and some of these bacteria infect people who either work on crops or consume them; and finally, as bacteria do not respect physical or biological borders, some are transferred to animals and streams around factory farms” ( What’s Wrong With Factory Farming). This is how these farms are effecting our shared environment. It’s left upon unsuspecting consumer to be aware of what they choose to consume.
“ A recent poll of 2000 people revealed that 36% of 16 to 23 year olds did not know that bacon comes from pigs, and 40% of respondents could not link milk to dairy cows, linking instead to wheat” ( Ostrow 2016 ). This ignorance from the consumer lends way for factory farmers to mass produce meat products with little to know dispute from the majority of their customers. In the 2005 documentary entitled Earthling, cameras uncovered ubiquitous practices utilized throughout America. They took hidden camera into slaughterhouse. The documentary shows how slaughterhouse go about killing then animals we eat. According to Do They Not Bleed “More animals are killed in agricultural production than in hunting, shelters and research combined” ( Brown 2011 ). The hidden camera in Earthling shows as newly hatched chicks beaks are ground down and cut off in a process called debeaking. “Beaks are seared off when they are just a few days old to prevent “feather peaking… a consequence of living in crowded, close confinement” ( Brown 2011). The chicks are housed in overcrowded cages where they will wait for slaughter. “The typical chicken kept for meat, know as broiler, lives less than six weeks. For some birds, it is as few as 30 days” ( Brown 2011). Once the chicken is ready for slaughter, the chickens throat are slit and the chickens are left to bleed to death. “Although pigs naturally nurse their offspring for as much as three months, at factory farms piglets are removed after several weeks and fed solid food to artificially hasten growth” ( Ostrow 2016 ). Piglets will have their tails cut or “docked”, ears cut, and teeth ripped out of their mouths without anesthetic drugs. “The industry chooses to dock their tails as piglets rather than enrich the animals’ environment” (Brown 2011).
When it’s time for the pigs to be slaughtered the pig gets an electric probe inserted into the anus, and the pig is forced to bite on a steel rod. Another common practice to kill pigs is a steel bullet to the head. This bullet doesn’t kill the pig but renders them immobile. Next the pig is hung upside down and the pigs throat is slit. This leaves the pig to die from blood loss or choking on their own blood dripping into their snots and mouths. If the pig doesn’t die from blood loss or asphyxiation, they will soon die from drowning in the gigantic vat of boiling water. The pigs are submerged in the scolding water to burn the hair off the pigs so that the skins is also marketable. “Cattle raised for beef typically have their horns amputated to reduce the chance of injury. Male pigs and beef cattle are also castrated” (Ostrow). Once the cow is ready for slaughter the cows are shot with a steel bullet. Like the pigs the steel bullet only makes the cow disoriented and helpless. “ Processing animals at a rate of about one every 12 seconds, it is common for cattle to proceed to slaughter while still conscious” ( Ostrow). Next the cows throats are slit and hung upside down on a conveyer belt of metal shackles. These cows will die a slowly, and painfully of blood loss or asphyxiation.
Although some individuals that consume meat may be unwilling to give up meat cold turkey, meat eaters can rejoice because there is a vast spectrum of options other than supporting the inhumane, unhealthy, cruel and unusual punishment these animals endure at the interest of the consumer. On one side of the spectrum there are options like eating responsibly raised meat. On the opposite end of the spectrum is not eating any meat or meat byproducts at all. Singer, songwriter, vegetarian Paul McCartney put it eloquently when he said “You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals” ( Quotes About Vegetarianism ). If as consumers more citizens took a stand against the practices utilized in meat production then less animals would suffer for our benefit.
While some carnivores might not be convinced to eliminated meat from their diets, their are other meat producers that use meat raised in a more natural, humane, and animal friendly environment. These farms give animals the freedom to live and die in a more humane way unlike the overcrowded slaughterhouses and factory farms. In Meat to Eat the article supports “sustainably raised meat” ( Food Program 2017 ). Some of the factors that set sustainably raised meat apart form factory farm meats is the superior taste, health benefits, and health of the animals. According to the article they compare sustainably raised meat vs factory farmed meat to the “ comparison of a fresh tomato from a farmers market to a tomato grown on a megafarm shipped before it’s even ripened tomato“ ( Food Program 2017 ). They go on to point out that “Compared to factory farmed meat, sustainable meat from animals raised on a pasture contain less fat, fewer calories, and a higher level of essential omega 3 fatty acids” ( Food Program 2017 ). The last major benefit to eating responsibly raised meat is the animals health. “ On sustainable farms, animals are treated humanely; they’re able to graze on pasture, carry out natural behaviors, and live without stress or cruel treatment “ (The Meat To Eat ). The article concludes that if as a consume someone might not want to eat factory farmed meat to look for labels on meat products that say grass fed, pasture raised, or organic. These are all indicators of meat raised outside of the factory farming industry.
Webster’s defines a Vegetarian’s diet as “consisting wholly of vegetables, fruits, grain, nuts, and sometimes egg or dairy products” ( Webster’s ). While some people may think that by consuming a vegetarian diet one might miss vital nutrition obtained by consuming meat. This has been proven to not be true. A well balanced vegetarian diet can be just as healthy as a meat eaters diet. According to Health Benefits of Vegetarianism “ There are many health benefits associated with vegetarianism. Researchers indicated that vegetarians have lower levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and obesity rates are generally lower among vegetarians than their meat eating counterparts. In addition, vegetarians have reduced incidences of type 2 diabetes and lower blood pressure than meat eaters “ ( The Athens News 2012 ). A multitude of researcher agree that you can have a well balanced diet consuming no meat. In Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet Timothy Key explains that “ In pooled analysis of cohort studies there were 2264 deaths from Ischemic Heart Disease before the age of 90 years. In comparison with non vegetarians, vegetarians had a 24% reduction in mortality from this disease… The reduction in mortality was confined to vegetarian who had followed their current diet for more than 5 years “ ( 1999 ). Who wouldn’t want to live longer by simply switching their dietary habits? Although some meat consumers may think that you need meat to get protein they would be wrong. According to Health Benefits of Vegetarianism “ The amount of protein needed varies by one’s body weight, age, and activity levels. A person who is 150 pounds should eat roughly 55 grams of protein each day. A 200 pound person should eat around 75 grams. An ounce of meat has 7 grams of protein per serving “ ( The Athens News ). Although vegetarians don’t get that protein form meat it doesn’t mean that they have no means to get the protein. The article goes on to say that 1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein, 1/2 a cup of cottage cheese contains 15 grams of protein, and 1/4 cup of peanuts contain 9 grams of protein. The possibilities of a balanced diet are endless on a vegetarian diet. The search shows that vegetarians are as healthy if not healthier than those that consume meat.
Another option and possible the most drastic option available in the fight for animal justice is the option to go Vegan. Webster’s defines Vegan as “ A person who does not eat or use animal products “ ( Webster’s ). Along with all the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, a vegan diet is more strict than a vegetarian is on thier diet. Not only do Vegetarians not consume meat, they also don’t eat any meat products such as eggs, milk, or honey just to name a few things. Vegan’s also don’t use any products that animals have had a part in making. These included produces such as leather goods, or any product made by animals or where animals were used in their testing process.
With over “ 265,500 “ ( Ostrow ) animals are killed each day, it’s a persons own individual decision to determine if they put those product in their body. Knowledge is power, and the knowledge that farm factory animals are being inhumanly bred, housed, and killed is an issue that their is a solution for. The facts are in, and each day animals suffer for the benefits of consumers. One meal at a time is the advise my vegan brother gave me after I watched Earthling. That was over 2 years ago. I decided to go vegetarian and haven’t looked back. Each individual has their own moral campus guiding them on what is right to put in their bodies. If you wouldn’t want you own pets treated inhumanly, why is it acceptable to support an industry that treats you meat with such disregard?
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