Sure I’m only three days in and I probably shouldn’t be calling myself a Vegetarian yet but I think I’m set.
And why am I doing it, out of love for animals, not wanting to eat them because I feel that eating meat is murder? Nope. Well not completely.
After reading “Fast Food Nation” and watching “Food Inc”, “Jamie’s Fowl Dinners” and the other show Jamie Oliver did about the pork industry in Europe, I’ve been questioning a few things. The way animals are farmed, the lack of care the big businesses have for our welfare in the way they produce the meat products and yeah, in part, the fact that I’m contributing taking the life of another creature.
Quality of life
We love to have a good quality of life, we want to be free, we want our own thoughts and ideas and we want to be able to act upon them as we see fit. We want the best life we can get and or make for ourselves. And as humans, for the most part, we can have that.
Other animals don’t have much of a choice. Because as humans we believe we’re more intelligent and we have a right to take whatever we want from the animal (and natural) world, and we do. We do it well, but we do it with very little intelligence and we do it with zero remorse.
A majority of the animals we farm live a very poor quality life. Chickens are packed in cages to restrict their movement, they suffer from deformities from being bred to grow to eating size in just 35 days. The average lifespan of a wild chicken or one not grown for meat is actually ten years. These chickens live in their own feces and are burnt by the ammonia that builds up as a result.
Cattle don’t fair much better, their feedlots are overstocked, herbivorous creatures who’s natural diet is grass and nothing but grass are instead fed feed that is actually corn (which is hard for them to digest) and pelleted animal remains (mostly other cows).
Dairy cows are sometimes injected with hormones to make their bodies think they are pregnant so they produce more milk. Other dairy farmers artificially fertilize their cows and abort the fetuses again to make their bodies produce more milk.
These animals have no quality of life. They have no choice in the direction their lives take. And maybe it’s true they don’t have the level of intelligence required to make decisions for themselves. Maybe they are just stupid animals but they do have minds. They do think and they certainly do feel. And I can no longer justify the killing of them for me to eat while there are vegetables that can sustain me.
Lack of care from big business for our welfare
Both “Fast Food Nation” and “Food Inc” detail the make up of the meat industry. In the US it is controlled by around three companies. The farmers who run the farms on which the animals are raised often don’t own their farms. The farms and the equipment they use are mortgaged to the hilt. They are pushed by the meat producers to constantly upgrade their equipment, keeping them in debt. In the old days they used to buy their own livestock (cattle and chickens) raise them their way and sell them to the meat processing places for a fair and just price.
These days the livestock is owned by the big businesses, the feed the farmers feed is bought directly from the same businesses. The farmers get to make no decisions about their livestock and are often so in debt they have no choice but to continue in the cycle they are part of or lose their livelihood. A lot of them are multi-generational farmers, they know nothing other than farming and so are locked into that life.
Further on the welfare front, these businesses don’t care about their customers. The person eating their product. There are quite a few E.coli breakouts each year in the States. People are dying from the poisoning. The companies know about these and have even gotten legislation in place by lobbing to ensure they don’t always have to announce recalls of their product.
The E.coli outbreaks occur because the animals are kept in their own poop and aren’t cleaned properly before processing. The feces ends up in the meat product and produces the E.coli.
Yet more welfare, in the States, illegal immigrants are brought in to work for these companies. They are underpaid and treated poorly. When US authorities come looking for illegal immigrants they are taken without objection by their employers, not paid for their time and easily replaced by other immigrants chomping at the bit for a life in the US.
Boy do we like to waste things and meat is no exception. We over produce meat supplies for our “developed countries”. Each week we’d throw away enough meat to feed the third world. That’s a lot of animals that die needlessly, just to become landfill.
I already talked a little about this. But for me I can’t think about eating another living creature. Just because they aren’t able to talk to us doesn’t mean they don’t feel. I get that as humans we’re built to eat both meat and vegetables. We have the teeth and the organs built to process flesh. But we aren’t animals driven purely by instinct. We have the means and the ability to source other foods to get the nutrition we need to survive without harming another creature.
I’m not out to save the world, I know most of the stuff I wrote about up there is hearsay and my interpretation of what I’ve heard and seen. I’m not out to make life more difficult for those around me and I won’t insist on vegetarian meals being prepared for my benefit. I figure this is like a religious argument. I won’t push my beliefs on others and it is a belief. I don’t know conclusively that animals think beyond instinct, that they want for more than to breed and keep their species going on. But I know conclusively that they do think. That they do feel and they they hurt when injured, treated bad and killed for us.
Far too many of us humans take where our meat comes from for granted. We don’t think about the animal that had to die for us to eat. For as long as I have understood the food chain, I have understood the sacrifice of the animals I’ve eaten. But I haven’t always know about the abhorrent way that some of the meat I consumed is now produced. I’m more informed (yes possibly by extreme views) and I’ve made an informed decision.
Again, I’m not saying everyone should stop eating meat, it’s a massive decision and an massive undertaking. But I do ask that you become more aware about the process and have a little more thought about the animals that form the food chain.
Like all my writing of late, this one is a little muddled. It’s just a string of consciousness, not really edited, just put out there. Sorry about that. I may well get around to editing in the near future.