Animal Welfare in Factory Farms and Slaughterhouse Psychology
Nearly forty-four percent of Americans claim to own a pet(Gallop Poll). It even seems most of the Internet is comprised of people’s pets doing something funny like running around the house with toilet paper or eating peanut butter. The animal videos would not be so popular if these animals were being abused because that’s not what humans like to see. Humans are compassionate and are usually against unwarranted violence especially if it were to come to defenseless creatures. Yet why do we allow the gross treatment of animals in the factory farms? Is it ignorance? Is it lack of empathy? Because it would be hypocritical for us to care about the welfare of some animals and not others. However, it is most likely a combination of different factors that have lead to the lack of conversation(despite government attempts against it). The issue of animal mistreatment should be at the forefront of our mind in terms of ethics and environment as well as considering the effects of what is called slaughterhouse psychology.
From an ethical perspective, farmhouse factories are in severe violation and have suffered no consequences. The general population is unaware of the abuse animals face while being “raised” inside these factories or in transportation to the slaughterhouse. The mistreatment they face includes being hit, kicked, and smacked against the floor in order to subdue them(Fiber-Ostrow, Behind a Veil of Secrecy)Another cruel fact is the utter disregard that the male equivalent of dairy and egg-producing animals face since they can’t produce what their female counterparts can. Everyday male chicks are being shredded for this exact reason. However, the females aren’t getting off easy either; female cows are being artificially inseminated so that their bodies can produce milk that these farmers then extract from them until their utters are bleeding. The female animal body is being exploited for corporate gain and for the population to enjoy without knowledge of the origins of their meal.
In addition, there are other terrible ramifications of the livestock business which effects our environment. One of the leading causes of global warming is centered in agriculture(NASA). Cows are releasing an extraordinary amount of methane gases into the atmosphere which then becomes trapped and add to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is what we know to be as the gradual warmer summers we are experiencing and the melting of our ice caps. So not only do our current practices affect the animals directly but it also affects our planet and us implicitly now and in the future.
Furthermore, when thinking of the interpersonal consequences of the meat industry there is slaughterhouse psychology to consider. Studies have shown that in the communities where there are slaughterhouses, there are higher amounts of reported cases of domestic abuse, PTSD, and anxiety(Lebwohl, A Call to Action). Though correlation does not always directly imply causation it does make sense to those people who have to kill living creatures on a daily basis is more prone to violent tendencies. Also, crime rates do tend to increase within a close proximity of these institutions. So what scientists are seeing is the increasingly violent behavior that these slaughterhouses are having on the surrounding area. Also, much of the time these places employ those in desperate need of a job like immigrants and low-income individuals who then suffer the effects creating a cycle of inequality.
Now with this information highlighted naturally the next step would be to discuss the possible resolutions to this multifaceted issue. A solution for the individual: Be a conscious consumer. The average American ate nearly 270 pounds of meat in 2017 which makes us the second highest meat-consuming country in the world(Barclay, NPR). This means that we have room to improve. Not everybody has to go vegan or vegetarian. But everyone can start to think about how they can change the way they eat or buy in order to push against the systematic abuse of animals inside these factories that provide all the animal products Americans are consuming. One way can be a conscious consumer is to start replacing 2-3 meals a week with meatless meals. These meals can range from salads to burritos to pasta dishes. Another idea is to switch from dairy milk to almond/cashew/soy milk. Most of the time these dairy substitutes offer more vitamins and health benefits. Even buying products like meat, eggs, and dairy locally can help the cause since the animals are able to live in better living conditions. They will not be pumped full of hormones. So not only does it benefit the animals and your health but it also benefits the local economy.
On a larger scale, the government may need to get involved so that it may incite social reform leading to a healthier population along with a better environment in the future. Regulation for these factories can include a code of conduct when it comes to animal handling. The government can also repeal their legislation known as Ag-gag which prohibits the undercover filming of these farm factories. This only protects the abuse of animals because none of the companies is going to willing display the horrific conditions that both their employees and animals have to undergo. And once the government takes that first step in regulating, the public would then notice all of the negative impacts that are resulted from cultivating these animals products. I believe in the good of people and their choices as a whole there just needs to be some guiding and conversation to start the change for a better tomorrow.
All things considered, there is significant data to support the plethora of negative effects that the farm factories, slaughterhouses, and animal exploiting companies in general produce. A call for regulation within these institutions is necessary for change. And as for what each person can do to contribute to a better future for upcoming generations is to just be more conscious of what one eats and what they support. A conversation needs to be started most importantly. There are plenty of reasonable alternatives to traditional animal products that do not come at the expense of another living creature’s pain and suffering.
Barclay, Eliza. “A Nation Of Meat Eaters: See How It All Adds Up.” NPR, NPR, 27 June 2012, http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/06/27/155527365/visualizing-a-nation-of-meat-eaters.
This article is where I got the statistics how much meat the average American ate in 2017 which helped my case(in my opinion). It helped me put into perspective the impact every person has and as a whole population.
“Climate Change Causes: A Blanket around the Earth.” NASA, NASA, 10 Aug. 2017, climate.nasa.gov/causes/.
In the article, NASA lists out and describes the leading causes of climate change. The intended audience was the general public and those who actually believe in global warming. I used this article to get information on the environmental perspective for my essay. The major fact that I extracted is the serious issue of livestock being the main contributor to the change of climate.
Fiber-Ostrow, Pamela and Jarret S. Lovell. “Behind a Veil of Secrecy: Animal Abuse, Factory Farms, and Ag-Gag Legislation.” Contemporary Justice Review, vol. 19, no. 2, June 2016, pp. 230-249. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10282580.2016.1168257.
In this journal, the authors outline the horrors that animals and humans experience inside the factories. They also discuss the new Ag-gag law that most deem unconstitutional since it’s the government trying to cover up animal abuse and silence any conversation about it. I’m using this in my article to emphasize the importance of conversation itself and how government regulation can hugely influence social reform.
Gallup, Inc. “Americans and Their Pets.” Gallup.com, 21 Dec. 2006, news.gallup.com/poll/25969/americans-their-pets.aspx.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I had an idea of how I wanted to start my essay and I had to look up a reliable source for statistics in order to do so. I wanted to use this statistic to show how much humans especially Americans love animals. And if we love animals then we should care about all of their collective welfare otherwise we’re hypocritical.
Lebwohl, Michael. “A Call to Action: Psychological Harm in Slaughterhouse Workers.” Yale Global Health Review, 25 Jan. 2016, yaleglobalhealthreview.com/2016/01/25/a-call-to-action-psychological-harm-in-slaughterhouse-workers/.
Lebwohl talks about the psychological harm that is caused by working in a place of violence towards other living creatures. He highlights that most experience PTSD and violent tendencies, Although my writing covers many aspects of sociology I wanted to dive into the interpersonal and worrisome effects of slaughterhouses.
Solotaroff, Paul. “Animal Cruelty Is the Price We Pay for Cheap Meat | Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone Magazine, 10 Dec. 2013, www.rollingstone.com/feature/belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists.
This is what I used for background information and initial research because it mentions the other points I bring up in my essay so it was great for that. Though it’s a popular source it does mention relevant issues. It incited some of the pathos aspects in my essay and made me more passionate about it considering the number of visuals the author used. The intended audience would be subscribers to Rolling Stone which is mostly music listeners but apparently, they write articles on social issues as well.