We are good at seeing things clearly…in retrospect. We get an idea, and without hesitation, we march forward with it, consequences be darned. When the consequences end up being devastating, then we learn from our mistakes. This is a system that works pretty well. But some mistakes are so bad that there’s no coming back from them.
Our hubris has had a devastating effect on this planet. We have caused deforestation so we could grow more cattle. We’ve created pollution and caused climate change, issues directly related to the cattle industry. We’ve allowed (and even sometimes purposely caused) many species to become extinct, and others to become endangered. We are a planet headed toward less and less biodiversity. Will we only allow animals to exist if they are for our use? Do the other animal species even have a voice? Is our treatment of animals the critical social issue of our day? When will we take the blinders off of our eyes and see how devastating our use of animals can be? Quoting from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, “Eating Animals,” “We have waged war against all of the animals we eat. This war is new and has a name; factory farming.”
What is a factory farm? It is a system of industrialized and intensive agriculture in which many animals are genetically engineered, restricted in their mobility, fed unnatural diets (which often include various drugs, like antimicrobials), and live in crowded and filthy conditions. Factory farming is the rule when it comes to producing meat, dairy and eggs. In the U.S. 99% of our milk and eggs come from factory farmed animals. 99.9 % of chickens for meat, 97% of laying hens, 99%of turkeys, 95% pigs, and 78% cattle are raised on factory farms. There is no tally of fish. Foer comments again; “Factory farmer’s success depends on consumers’ nostalgic images of food production. (The small farm, the individual fisherman with a fishing pole, etc.)” If you want to quickly see how animals are treated on factory farms visit "Meet Your Meat."
Animal husbandry is the management and care of farm animals by humans. There are no animal husbands, or wives for that matter, who work on factory farms. They are run by businessmen. Their goal is to produce as much meat as possible in the smallest amount of space, for the lowest price possible. The health and comfort of the animals is not a top consideration. And what about the health and comfort of the creature who eats meat produced in this way? Is this something we should care about? Foer reminds us in his book that, ”What we forget about animals, we forget about ourselves.” We have forgotten that we all live together on this planet, that other species have rights, that how we treat the animals who become our food affects our health, and that these animals should, at the very least, be able to live and die with some respect.
How we are producing our meat, dairy, and fish and eggs is ruining the planet that we share. It effects our tropical rain forests that continue to be leveled for grazing cattle. It puts a heavy toll on the water supply. It produces huge quantities of animal waste runoff and leeches into the water supply. It effects air quality, and even earth’s climate. 90% of the fish in the ocean when I was a child are now gone and many scientists predict a total collapse of all fished species within less than 50 years. Have we gone too far? What does this mean? Did we ever stop to ask ourselves what the impact of factory farming would be? It is time for a grass roots level “come to Jesus” talk with factory farmers by refusing to purchase their meat. We need to change things and it needs to happen soon before it’s too late.
“Perhaps in the back of our minds we already understand, without all the science I've discussed, that something terribly wrong is happening. Our sustenance now comes from misery. We know that if someone offers to show us a film on how our meat is produced, it will be a horror film. We perhaps know more than we care to admit, keeping it down in the dark places of our memory-- disavowed. When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals