“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” – M.K. Gandhi
It has been 5 and a half years since I made an active choice to not eat meat (other than unfertilized eggs) and yet I still occasionally get the concerning looks and commentaries from those around me. Why make such a drastic change in one’s life? And, really… what good is it even causing? Let’s take a look into some facts on factory farming and ethical eating.
Majority of the meat that is produced in North America comes from factory farms, also known as industrial farms. The meat that we generally purchase in our grocery stores and restaurants tend to be from such farms, unless it is mentioned otherwise. Factory farms do not raise – but rather manufacture animals – in closed environments that mimic warehouses. Chickens, pigs, and other animals are crammed into thousands of air-tight, windowless sheds, where there is no room to move around or breathe clean air. The purpose of having these industrial-like farms is to produce meat on a mass scale much faster than regular farming; in other words, to maximize output while minimizing the financial costs.
Living and breeding conditions are nothing more than pathetic for these animals. They are injected with hormones on a regular basis in the aim to advance their physical maturity, and to increase their fat – making the meat more juicy for consumers. Cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks and many others are kept in tiny cages or jam-packed sheds, where they cannot move around. Most of these animals will never experience the outside life or the sun’s rays until the time has come for them to be loaded on to trucks where they will be delivered to a slaughter house. They are intentionally deprived of exercise so that all their energy and time can be spent on producing eggs or milk. Many of these animals (especially chickens) tend to become crippled due to their weight and die shortly after. Michael Pollan has written a fantastic article for the New York Times, titled Power Steer, that describes his experience with factory farmers and the living conditions for cows on these sites. Click here to read the article; it is quite text-heavy but nonetheless I would definitely recommend this to everyone who want to gain more insight on this subject!
Another key issue that is involved in factory farming is corn. Rather than describing in my own words about corn surpluses and how it relates to industrial farming, I’d like to leave you with this YouTube link instead. Click here to watch “What is Factory Farming? Us and the planet”. This video provides basic but crucial information about industrial farming and its impacts on climate change, and discusses the issues of feeding corn surpluses to cows (far better than I can discuss it).
So, here’s a summary of the pros and cons to factory farming…
Pros to Factory Farming:
- It’s cheaper to produce on a mass scale
- Making use of the agriculture industry (i.e., feeding corn surpluses to animals)
- Increase in meat production, therefore allowing easy access for all consumers to purchase meat
Cons to Factory Farming:
- It’s only cheaper financially; heavy costs on animals (their health, living conditions, and emotional well-being)
- We’re bringing upon illnesses to the animals because they cannot digest the corn diet and thus require antibiotics. This is actually harmful to us because we eat the meat that may be effected by such illness.
- There is constant abuse taking place in such an atmosphere where living beings are treated as mere commodities
The idea of ethical eating is very powerful. I do not hold the view that animals should not be eaten for moral purposes and we should only consume plants and vegetables. Having protein in our diet is very important for our well-being and physical, emotional, and nutritional balance. However, it is also just as important to nourish our environment rather than abuse or misuse it. Just because it is alright to eat animals does not give human beings the right to treat them as commodities. Ethical eating promotes the idea of eating meat on an ethical and needs, rather than greeds, basis. We have the choice and power to vote with our dollar. Stop purchasing meat that is produced from factory farms. If there is no demand, then the supply is forced to be cut off. There are far more alternatives, such as buying from local free-range farms where the animals are able to live as living beings.
Why purchase meat that has been tortured… how can that make us healthy in any way? Eating healthy animals will also make us healthy too. The choice is yours.
Peace & Love!
Another great link to a documentary on the food production industry that can be found on YouTube: click here to watch “Food Inc.”