The Unpalatable Reality of Eating Animals

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These days—from birth to slaughter— the animals used for food live short, miserable and abnormal life. For animals, hell is definitely real and it’s on Earth. It’s called ‘factory farming’.

Factory farming, as opposed to traditional farming, basically means mass producing animals for human consumption and confining them in very cramp living spaces 24/7.

Many animals endure overcrowding; no space to move and play; deprived of sunlight; grown artificially to make them grow bigger and quicker; made to produce milk or eggs abnormally frequently than nature intended; unloved; abused… the list goes on.

Those in the know say this period has the most extensively exploited animals in Earth’s history.

Traditional farms allow and enable farm animals to roam, where they can take a few steps and do what their genetics dictate them to do in that limited space they have. Those places are said to be decreasing and factory farms are proliferating. These days, the meat you buy from supermarkets and those served in fast food shops and restaurants more than likely come from factory farms.

It’s common knowledge animals are fed antibiotics. In factory farms, this is to stimulate growth and stop the spread of disease caused by overcrowding. Animals are also injected with hormones and fed chemically-enhanced food. To make matters worse, as detailed here, animals are made to endure pain and terror by being de-beaked (chickens), ears clipped and teeth cut (pigs), tied at the neck and kept restricted to keep muscles from developing (calves)—and without anesthesia. All these so farm factories can keep costs down and gain maximum profit.

For factory farm animals, jail and hell are one and the same place.

Farm animals globally are languishing there right now, hundreds of billions of them. Now it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a few hundred or a few billion because less number of animals suffering doesn’t make it any less wrong. It’s wrong because the pain and suffering they are made to endure are too extreme and callous to be tolerable.

To rub salt to injury, we fork out money to buy dead animals’ whole carcass or body parts. We continue the abuse by gnawing on their bones; biting/tearing/chewing their dead flesh with gusto. I’m sorry if I’m being overdramatic and if you feel repulsed, but the reality of factory farming is far more repulsive and deeply disturbing.

It’s not so long ago that I was devouring delicious barbecued ribs and salivating over juicy hamburgers. Now I can’t stand the sight of raw or cooked meat, and often find myself mentally tracing the short but pitiful life of the creature that was once a living, thinking, feeling animal.

Without realising it, we are very much the cause and the reason why the abominable factory farming exist. The farm animals some of us claim we love are having nightmares and those nightmares are caused by us; by the food choices we make; by where we spend our money for food.

If you can afford to buy meat and you think you’re unable to give up eating meat at this time, then buying from more humane sources would, at least, be a better option. It costs more but the issue is much greater than saving money, more than putting a stop to animal cruelty or making intelligent choices of food for your health.

When it comes to food, there are three obvious positions we can align with, those who:

  1. don’t have any issues whatsoever with eating meat.
  2. eat or support eating meat provided the animals are raised, treated and killed humanely.
  3. call for a stop to eating animals and the protection of animals (and push for a vegan or vegetarian diet).

After being exposed to animals’ sad life, I found these compelling reasons to no longer eat meat:

  1. the callous modern methods of manufacturing animals for food (which I strongly disagree with, if not detest).
  2. the animals you could be eating come from unhealthy or deformed animals (but you’ll never know, would you?)
  3. the way some workers at slaughterhouses exhibit inhuman behaviour and can become de-sensitized from badly treating and slaughtering animals.
  4. continuing to patronise this industry makes me question my ability and capacity to feel empathy and compassion for the pain, suffering and sense of fear of others, even if they’re ‘only’ animals.
  5. the undesirable and deleterious effects of eating animals that ripple through the animals, ourselves, our loved ones, on others, and our planet.

Hence, I’ve withdrawn my support to the animal meat business by consciously choosing to stop buying, cooking, eating and serving meat, whether they are factory farmed, or reared and killed more humanely.

Letting animals experience heaven on earth by attending to their welfare and keeping them happy, then slitting their throats anyway when it’s time to eat them makes no sense to me now. I have learned to see animals, which St Francis of Assisi calls our brothers and sisters, in a different light.

The above are not even the full story of manufacturing animals for food. There are other compelling reasons for avoiding eating animals (and using animals in other inhumane ways) which I will try to tackle in future posts.

We’ve got to ask ourselves some questions:

  • Not all dogs, cats and horses are loved, but these species of animals are loved much more than others. We’ll condemn, if not beat the daylights out of anyone who tries to hurt our pets. Why not extend this love to other animals, more or less cuter/loveable/intelligent?
  • What happens in factory farms, where food animals live and where they sometimes die from stress and/or injury?
  • How about during transport on their way to slaughterhouses, where animals are sent to be killed?
  • What truly happens in slaughterhouses, where food animals die and where they sometimes survive or remain conscious when kill instruments fail, which sometimes happen during slaughter?

If you try and find out the reality of the extent of how animals suffer on every stage of their existence—chickens would apparently often defecate due to pain and terror—you will be in shock to see or read about the gory and despicable details, and I’m not referring to the sight of animal blood and exposed entrails.

All that I’ve seen on documentaries and have read in books and elsewhere were enough for a long-time meat lover like me to lose my love and craving for animal meat. Thanks to the courageous and caring people who did undercover investigations, animal activists and other people who used to work/are working in factory farms who take/took a lot of risks secretly filming or complaining about or divulging what goes on inside the high, windowless walls of factory farms and slaughterhouses, we now know what is going on.

So there is no more excuse for us to remain blissfully ignorant and apathetic about the life of the animals we kill for food because by doing so we become complicit in their current and continued abasement. Unless we change our diet or at least avoid buying meat from cruel sources, we are guilty of this untold cruelty inflicted on animals — whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, or whether you know it or not.

It’s hard to digest but it’s a reality that no amount of denial or turning a blind eye or dismissing it will erase.

The New Testament says it’s okay to eat animals, but no one in that time period predicted the rise and rise of factory farming towards the end of the 20th century. Factory farming is said to start to exist only in the 1920s and started to thrive in the last 25 or so years.

Don’t worry; no one is going to hell for this, not even to jail—except the animals.

It begs another question: Why are these defenseless, mild-mannered, harmless inarticulate animals in jail/hell?

Animals are factory-farm raised for maximum profit and sold to us…

We reward this cruel livestock business by our enthusiastic patronage…

The perpetrators get bloody rich… [pun intended]

And the cycle continues.

You and I — Let’s help the animals and stop this cycle of human-manufactured nightmare for animals. It’s time we rouse ourselves awake and open our eyes, mind and heart about the reality of factory farming. I now truly GET there is every reason for me—and you—to start caring. You may choose to continue to eat meat regardless of the ethical, moral, health and environmental issues, but there is more to these issues than you realise.

Learn more and see what truly goes on in the highly secretive factory farms through the eyes of those who have been there.

Read. Think. Feel empathy.

There are many literatures and documentaries to educate us and help us make better choices of the food we ingest and feed our loved ones. Please take a moment to consider the significance of meat eating and how we can make a difference by eating less or no meat.

‘When we eat factory-farmed meat, we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.’ ~ Jonathan Safran Foer.

* * *

Source:
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Other recommended reading:

Against Eating Animals:
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason
Dominion, the Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully
Why Animals Matter, the Case for Animal Protection by Erin Williams and Margo DeMello

For Eating Animals, with conditions:
Animal Rights and Wrongs by Roger Scruton

Updated: 27 May 2011

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Pleaaase Don’t Eat Me

Don't eat me

Cute Babe

If only the real Babe could speak…

I’ve been catching up on my knowledge on the loveable antics of animals, especially farm animals. Did you know that animals are much like humans in so many ways?

Animals form close, deep and long-lasting relationships not only with humans, but also with their own kind as well as other species of animals. Researchers and other observers say they love hanging out with their animal and/or human ”best friends”. They are playful and inquisitive, or get themselves into mischief. They feel joy, happiness, contentment, loyalty and love! They are capable of intense love and affection that humans could very well learn from them.

It’s not only feelings of joy though. They feel physical discomfort, suffer mental anguish, squeal in protest, feel terrorised, endure agony, scream in pain, get stressed, and also express extreme distress when separated from their loved ones.

So you can easily imagine how the deplorable and shameful situations in slaughterhouses take its toll on animals. They hold a grudge to those who hurt them. They have long memories, remember past hurts and some, like the chimpanzees, even after many years, don’t forgive. It’s not only elephants who mourn the loss of loved ones and friends, but other animals too.

These are just a few things we have in common with them. And yet, there are many more things we don’t truly know about them.

In her book, The Inner World of Farm Animals, Their Amazing Social, Emotional and Intellectual Capacities, Amy Hatkoff says animals with reasonably complex brains have ”vivid and distinct personalities, minds capable of some kind of rational thought and… feelings”.

Marc Bekoff, in The Emotional Lives of Animals notes that ”Careful scientific research is validating what we intuitively understand: that animals feel, and their emotions are as important to them as ours are to us… Their joy is the purest and most contagious of joys, and their grief the deepest and most devastating.”

Some of the things that farm animals are reported to do or possess, which many of us may or may not know:

We're not food

Loving pigs

• Pigs love video games. They are more intelligent than dogs; smarter than poodles.
• Even though pigs have small brain, they are teachable and are fast learners (what they call a ”one-trial learner”).
• Chickens can count and ”use their right and left brains for different functions”.
• Chickens and roosters have ”highly developed communication skills”.
• Ducks have good sense of humour, and are suspected to even have ”regional accents”.
• Turkeys recognise each other by their voices.
• Turkeys love human companionship and, armless as they are, love to hug and be hugged by humans.
• Goats are ”affectionate” and ”love attention”.
• Sheeps recognise faces and ”respond to emotional cues from both human and sheep faces”.
• Cows are perceptive, sensitive and are self-aware.
• African Buffalos were observed to be making decisions by, what else, ”voting”!

k.d. lang asked a good question, ”We all love animals. Why do we call some ‘pets’ and others ‘dinner’?”

Jane Goodall, a UN Messenger of Peace, shows us how she quit salivating for animal flesh: ”I looked at the piece of animal on my plate, and it symbolized fear, pain, death. I stopped eating it.”

Watching www.earthlings.com did it for me. In fact, it was not the merciless torture the animals suffer or the physical and/or psychological problems caused by unthinking humans shown on the video that stuck with me. It was the sight of a dog, perhaps bound to be euthanised, sitting in a corner of its cell with the saddest of eyes I’ve ever seen in a dog.

Unless we watch videos/documentaries or read books on animals and their rights, we’ll remain ignorant about their plight.

I feel so much love for animals now I lost my desire for eating animal meat, much less handle cooked or raw, dead, bloodied meat. Quitting eating meat is not that hard, at least from my experience, once you have a shift in your thinking about the true nature of and our relationship with animals. Once you realise what loving and respecting animals truly mean, you’ll lose your craving for animal flesh. This is coming from me, a one-time hard core meat lover right up to late last year and a picky eater one at that.

My eyes, mind and heart are now wide open. I look at animals in a new light. I now see what other long-time genuine animal lovers see.

Joe Hutto, a naturalist who studied and wrote about wild turkeys, sums it up nicely, ”The time I spent with them was this wonderful kind of humiliation. We are not superior beings, we are just different beings. We are not more interesting creatures.”

* * *

Sources and recommended reading:

The Inner World of Farm Animals, Their Amazing Social, Emotional and Intellectual Capacities by Amy Hatkoff.
Ninety Five, Meeting America’s Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs, edited by No Voice Unheard.
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
The Ten Trusts by Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff

Lovelier the Second Time Around

I’m funny like this. I shook my head vigorously when I asked myself silently, ‘Am I now a vegetable lover?’ I’m not a fan of vegetables!

I was a meat craver who is now learning to adjust to a non-meat diet. Add to this ‘comedic situation’, being a closet prima donna, if no one peels, de-seeds and slices fruits for me, I don’t remember to eat them.

How am I going to feed myself?

Once, several years ago, I attempted to become a vegetarian for health reasons, not for any moral, compassionate, empathetic reasons. But my first attempt didn’t last long.

Late 2010 and my once-held desire to be a vegetarian is re-awakened. This time I resolve seriously to eliminate all meat and some animal by-products, and possibly seafood, in my diet.

To help family and friends decide what food to prepare for me when I go over to their homes and visit, remember this:

I dislike zucchini, eggplants, okra, soggy capsicums, string beans and olives.

I eat but I’m not a big fan of corn, green peas and cucumbers.

I cringe at fresh or cooked tomatoes and has no intention to eat them for the rest of my life! Never mix them in your food or salads if you plan to share them with me.

So how do I intend to stay a vegetarian, if not a vegan, being very fussy with food?

Well, I like yellow squash, pumpkin, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, celery, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and potatoes. I love avocados. I don’t mind the different kinds of lettuces.

It’s not difficult to prepare food for vegetarians. Just cook some of your favourite food the usual way and just don’t add any meat or seafood! Voilà, you have a vegetarian meal!

My eyes light up when I see desserts. I hope to develop that feeling when I see vegetables.

I love some fruits. I love all kinds of nuts. I love pulses and legumes. I love brown rice. I just have to learn to love vegetables.

Surprisingly, I haven’t been craving for meat (granted, it’s just been a couple of weeks, lol). I can’t stand the thought now of what animals go through to serve one of my physiological needs. I no longer see animals as food. Would you care to join me in this lifesaving, cruelty-minimising crusade?

I’m no longer sure I can still handle raw meat and cook and serve them at home for family and guests.

When I think of a hamburger or any of my ex-favourite meat food, my face contorts. So it’s a good sign and I’m optimistic announcing this intention of giving up meat for good on my blog is not something I’d regret later on.

I’ve been reading on the many pros and cons on being a vegan or vegetarian and lots of advice on what supplements to take so as not to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.

My reasons for this life-changing decision is as I described in my Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is post, not necessarily for health reasons. So far, I feel good. In months to come, I’m positive I’ll even feel better.

By the way, I went to see an eye specialist. When I offered the information that I’ve become ‘a vegetarian’—which felt funny when I said it—he gave me more than a pat on the back. He replied, ‘your body will LOVE you for it! Hearing the word ‘love’, I took it somehow as an indication the universe approves!

I love giving up meat! It’s surprisingly easier for me this time around.

* * *

A friend let me know of these vegetarian restaurants. If you’re in Sydney, check them out too:

Green Gourmet
Bodhi Restaurant

Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen

Read if you will:

Animal Rights: The Abolitionist
ihealth Directory
Vegetarian Starter Guide
The Definitive Vegetarian Starter Guide
Vegetarian Diet: How to get the best nutrition

Put Your Empathy Where Your Mouth Is

Suddenly, drastically, I’ve become a ‘meat shunner’.

A ‘meat lover’ all of my life, I’ve now become an ‘animal lover’.

It literally happened overnight, after watching www.earthlings.com, a one hour and a bit documentary about the cruel, callous and disrespectful way humans treat animals for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation (research) and sports.

This five-year old film touched me emotionally and intellectually.

The result: I can never look at fried chicken; roast lamb, beef or pork; a whopper burger, beef steak and other meat and seafood with hungry eyes ever again.

I resolved to change my eating habits and attempt to become a vegetarian, if not a vegan, after only 20 minutes into the film.

Aside from the horrific images, there were three things from the film that stood out for me. Mind you, these are not secret information or new revelations. We all know these but we haven’t taken this knowledge into our heart and mind:

1. Animals are creatures who have a right to co-exist with us on Earth, free from deprivation, torment, maltreatment, pain and suffering.

2. Animals are beings who ‘live, breathe, eat, play, show emotion, experience pain, hunger, thirst’ like humans.

3. Animals are pitifully, horrendously and mindlessly maltreated and killed long before they arrive at our table, on our plate and into our mouth.

Some claim Earthlings is just a propaganda tool. I think those who say this are missing the point. It’s clear that killing animals for food or for other uses, whether painlessly or otherwise; or killing or maltreating animals for fun or in the name of research is seriously barbaric, inhumane and primitive.

So out of my belated respect, empathy and compassion for my fellow ‘earthlings’, I’ve started eliminating all meat and meat products in my diet.

There are those who say the animal carnivores are more cruel toward other animals. Perhaps the animal carnivores have no choice but to kill their fellow animals as a source of food for survival. Humans, however, do have a choice and can make one.

What can you do?

The next time you take a bite of that suckling roast or barbequed meat, spare a thought at what the animal may have endured before reaching your plate as described in ‘Earthlings’:

• “branded on the face with red hot irons [cows]
• dehorned with pliers and tail docked [cows]
• ears clipped, teeth cut, castrated – without pain killers or anesthetics [piglets]
• de-beaked and hoisted upside down and throats slit to bleed [chickens]
• electrocuted [food and circus animals]
• burnt [pigs]
• beaten
• shot
• tied at the neck and kept restricted to keep muscles from developing [calves]
• shackled alive, suspended on a bleed wheel where their throats are slit and immersed in scalding tanks to remove their bristle, with many still struggling as they are dunked upside down where they are submerged and drowned [pigs]
• skinned alive for furs and all leather goods
• harpooned [whales].”

And for dolphins unlucky enough to get caught in the waters of Japan? Some are cut in half while still alive!

Excluding the whales and dolphins, these are factory farm animals. What do you think happen to strays or once-loved pets which are impounded? Some are packed very tightly in gas chambers and gassed as this method is less expensive than the quick and lethal but more humane method of injection.

For the love of animals, face the inconvenient truth: partaking a piece of animal flesh—albeit in sanitised, spiced, cooked, packaged or beautifully-presented form— is tantamount to being complicit in their continued deprivation, suffering, abuse and painful death by human hands.

I no longer want to take part, even indirectly, in this sadistic and disrespectful treatment of animals.

I now refuse to be a part of the meat industry’s continued existence. [Watch Earthlings, Sam!]

And this without fully knowing yet the meat industry’s role in climate change and on the damage to our environment, water and air.

I feel genuine pity to those whose livelihood involve killing or butchering animals. Get out of that hellhole called abattoirs or slaughterhouses. Surely, there is a better way to make a living.

We are thinking, compassionate and loving human beings. We have the power to spare the animals their lives. Let them die a natural death and not directly or indirectly through our hands.

In human hands, animals suffer in millions, daily, all over the planet. It’s time to stop creating hell on earth for animals.

Open your eyes, heart and mind.

It’s time to decide and choose: either you’re FOR the animals’ rights or AGAINST them.

As far as the animals are concerned, there is NO in between.

For more information, check out:

 Jordanian Horror Slaughterhouse Closed 

Exposed: The long, cruel road to the slaughterhouse

Why Eating Meat is Like Butchering the Rainforest

Vegan

James Adonis, who I thank for sharing the link to the www.earthlings.com video which led me to open my eyes to this long-ignored reality.