By Wes Annac, Editor, Openhearted Rebel
I wrote the following for the 264th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.
Income from the guide helps me get by and ensures I can continue to offer free content, and every subscription is appreciated. The option to subscribe is given at the bottom of this post (learn about subscribing with cash/check here).
Concluded from Part 2
Small U.S. slaughterhouses in business for grass-fed ranchers have had to close due to being “pushed out by larger processors”, Dr. Mercola writes. This is all because of USDA regulations that severely restrict the production of American grass-fed beef despite the clear demand for it. (2)
Why not make it easier for small farmers to produce grass-fed beef and ensure the process is humane? It seems like common sense, but apparently, the USDA disagrees.
And finally, the elephant in the room:
The Industry Subjects Animals to Horrible Conditions
Ed’s story might have been a little hard to swallow, but this section will disturb anyone with the slightest bit of empathy.
The following section details the injustice and abuse the animals who become our food are subjected to. If you don’t think you can stomach it, feel free to read on. I have, however, left out many of the most disturbing facts so I could retain some semblance of the lightheartedness this guide is usually known for.
With that said, let’s get into it.
The ASPCA reports that over 99% of U.S. farm animals are raised in factory farms. (7)
The industry, they report, makes animals suffer by subjecting them to (among other things):
- Physical alternations like teeth clipping without anesthetic (7)
- Confinement indoors with “poor air quality and unnatural light patterns” (7)
- The general inability to do things normal animals do (7)
- Breeding, either for “fast growth” or higher yields, which risks the animals’ safety (7)
- Carelessness and neglect toward animals that are suffering, which is an apparent result of the “higher ratio of animals to workers” (7)
- Improper use of antibiotics to make up for unclean and unsafe conditions (7)
- Roughness and abuse from workers (7)
We’ll focus on what one animal, the chicken, typically goes through. We won’t be learning what other animals endure here, because the subject matter is difficult enough as it is. Although I recommend educating yourself on what all animals raised on factory farms experience, I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much depressing information.
I’ll leave it up to you to learn more if you’re interested and want to help make a change.
The ASPCA reports that chickens bred for meat are raised indoors in “large sheds” that contain more than 20,000 of them. In these sheds, the chickens are “crammed together” on the floor. They live in their own excrement and are constantly irritated by high ammonia levels that burn their throat, eyes, and skin. (8)
Factory-farmed chickens, the ASPCA reports, are nothing like the wild chickens that preceded them. Selective breeding, low-dose antibiotics, too much feeding, and too little exercise cause factory chickens to “grow unnaturally quickly and disproportionately”. Their breasts grow large, meeting market demand, but their organs and skeleton don’t follow the same pattern. As a result, some of them become crippled and “unable to reach food and water”. Heart failure, trouble breathing, chronic pain, and leg weakness are also common. (8)
According to the ASPCA, factory farms keep the lights on in the sheds nearly 24-7 to restrict the chickens’ sleep patterns, which ensures they continue to eat and grow. As you can probably imagine, the space becomes crowded as they grow. Thus, they’re forced to compete for space in what are already extremely difficult living conditions. (8)
Fortunately, animal activists are inspiring some companies to change.
The ASPCA reports that companies are developing policies and committing to addressing the problem of fast growth. Some companies and consumers are also committing to certification programs requiring proper space and natural lighting cycles. You can help too. With the Change Your Chicken Challenge, you can change this grotesque system by changing the chicken you purchase to those raised humanely. (8)
Dr. Mercola cites animal welfare activist Philip Lymbery, who believes in a solution rooted not in vegetarianism, but a return to old-school farming methods over mass industrial farms. He believes that as consumers, we can make a change by choosing what we eat carefully. We can help by ensuring we eat meet and eggs from farms free of the cruelty for which the meat industry is well-known. (2)
Lymbery’s idea is simple: return animals to a natural farm setting.
“This is not, in any way, a call to vegetarianism. This is a call to put animals back on the farm. Pasture is one of the most ubiquitous habitats on the planet, covering 25 percent of the ice-free land surface.
“This is about using that ubiquitous habitat to produce great food in a way which is environmentally friendly and kinder to animals, leaving much-scarcer arable to grow crops directly for people…
“Three times a day, through our meal choices, we have an opportunity to change our lives and thereby help change the world.
“It’s as simple as buying free-range eggs, pasture-raised beef and chicken, and looking for milk that has come from cows that have been able to graze… We’ll start to support family farms, will help to support a better environment, and will help to feed the world in a more humane and efficient way.” (2)
If this information doesn’t convince you that you should care just a little about the meat industry, I recommend digging deeper. This is a basic introduction to the subject with the implied encouragement to learn more and ultimately do more about it.
Like any industry, the meat industry would like us to believe they’re doing nothing wrong. Otherwise, we won’t give them our money. It’s true that they’ve improved since the early 1900s when factory conditions were much more appalling, but their modern-day treatment of animals is still far from humane.
The public can directly address the problems with the meat industry by buying our meat from humbler sources that, simply put, don’t have these problems. Responsible farmers that raise animals humanely and treat them with decency from the time they’re born until the time they die.
I think we can all agree – those who love meat and those who’ve sworn off it – that these animals’ suffering is preventable and unacceptable.
Do you care now?
(1) Henry Imhoff Helena, “Problems with the Meat Industry”, Independent Record, September 17, 2013 – http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/problems-with-meat-industry/article_387e394c-1f24-11e3-85b7-0019bb2963f4.html
(2) Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Shocking Facts About the Meat Industry” Mercola.com, November 25, 2014 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/11/25/shocking-facts-meat-industry.aspx
(3) Adam Voiland and Angela Haupt, “10 Things the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know”, U.S. News, March 30, 2012 – http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/03/30/things-the-food-industry-doesnt-want-you-to-know
(4) Sam P.K. Collins, “Pink Slime Is Making a Comeback”, ThinkProgress, August 20 2014 – https://thinkprogress.org/pink-slime-is-making-a-major-comeback-c58aa671f639/
(5) Joe Satran, “‘Pink Slime’ Ground Beef Product Returns To School Lunches In 4 States: Report”, Huffington Post, September 10, 2013 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/pink-slime_n_3900851.html
(6) Luke Runyon, “Fines For Meat Industry’s Safety Problems Are ‘Embarrassingly Low’”, NPR, August 10, 2016 – http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/10/489468457/fines-for-meat-industrys-safety-problems-are-embarrassingly-low
(7) “Farm Animal Welfare”, ASPCA – https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare
(8) “Chickens – Farm Animal Welfare”, ASPCA – https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare/animals-factory-farms#Chickens
About the author:
I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run Openhearted Rebel, a daily news blog dedicated to igniting a revolution of love by raising social and spiritual awareness.
I also have a personal blog, Wes Annac’s Personal Blog, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).
I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.
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