It starts with one person

While biting into a really good burger, or frying up bacon for breakfast, do you ever think about it ethically?

I didn’t either, until taking an Intro to Ethics course here at DMACC. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to preach about the evils of fried chicken; I enjoy it as much as the next person. But what do the animals we consume go through so we can get a little delicious protein?

I had heard, of course, that animals were ‘mistreated’ when being raised for slaughter, but that was all I knew. I was curious, so I decided to do a little research. I was horrified by what I found.

Let’s talk about chickens. According to PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), on a standard chicken farm, the chickens spend their lives suffering, 5-11 of them at a time crammed into a small cage, or sometimes even tens of thousands crammed into a filthy shed, where they are unable to even spread their wings. Under so much stress, they often die of heart-attacks and the living chickens are surrounded by their own waste and the corpses of the ones around them.

To avoid fighting, the chickens beaks are clipped off, painfully. They are fed growth hormones to make them grow too quickly for health. When deemed ‘ready’ for slaughter, they are stuffed roughly into moving trucks where they’ll be taken to have their feathers scorched off while they are still alive, and then their throats are slit by a machine.

Some don’t even make it to the slaughterhouse. The ones that are sick, and unfit for food, are beaten by workers with metal rods and left to die. This is legal and considered standard by the industry. That’s not even the half of it.

Cattle are treated just as badly. They are confined to such small stalls that they cannot turn around, or even lie down.  Their horns are sawed off, and they are branded many times, all without painkillers. In the USA, it is legal to slaughter cows with cancerous lesions and illnesses for meat, so when they are sick, they go untreated. By auction time, most of them can barely walk or stand, because their muscles have atrophied from disuse.

The workers use painful, electric probes on them when they fall, to force them to get up. After they are bought, they are put in trucks and taken to slaughter, but most are unable to walk so they are dragged from the trucks by one leg. For the dairy cows and their calves it is just as bad. The dairy cows are impregnated annually to keep up milk production. Mother cows have a strong bond with their calves, which are ripped away from them shortly after birth, causing both of them insurmountable stress. The male calves are sent to veal farms to be slaughtered while still in their first year of life, but only after weeks of the same mistreatment full grown cows have to go through to end up on our tables.

Finally, pigs. Kept in the same small confined spaces, many of them go mad. At birth, piglets have their ears mutilated, their teeth cut off, and are castrated, with no painkillers. Because they struggle and flail around, the workers often miss their mark, and the babies are unnecessarily injured. Piglets who are deemed unfit for food are killed by the workers lifting them up by their feet and slamming their heads into the concrete floor over and over. The pigs are fed growth hormones that make them grow so quickly, their legs cannot support them, and they are forced to lie in their own excrement.

The only time these animals experience fresh air, is in the back of a truck headed for the slaughter house. Before they are ushered onto the killing floor, they are stuck together in close quarters, and many of them have their limbs snapped under the weight of other panicked animals. Many are burned alive in the scalding tank for hair removal. Others are improperly stunned, and experience having their throats slit while they are still awake.

I have seen video evidence of this on PETA’s website. Sure, maybe any film could be cast in a bad light, but a video of a piglet having its head dashed against the floor can hardly be cast in a good light.These animals spend their entire lives in pain and suffering.

I have not yet made my decision about vegetarianism, but knowing what I know now, I’ll find it hard not to think about this next time I order food.

Most people rationalize, saying ‘I’m one person, it won’t make a difference if I stop eating meat, it’ll keep happening.’ This may be true, but I just think; it has to start with one person.

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