The human race has a violent history. Ruins around the world bear testament to countless wars fought and lives lost. There was a time mutilation and chopping off limbs were acceptable forms of punishment, and a fight to the death was a form of entertainment in some cultures. Now, things have changed; violence is a thing of the past. Or so we think.
“We go into the natural world and plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”Joaquin Phoenix
These were the words Joaquin Phoenix used during his powerful Oscar speech that left him teary eyed and shook the conscience of a nation. From the moment a calf enters the world, its fate is sealed. If it is male it is sold to the meat or leather industry, or abandoned. If it is female, she will share the same fate as her mother. She will be impregnated again and again only to be separated from her calf so we can steal her milk.
We don’t want to change our habits. A glimpse into our past shows us how violent humans can be. There was a time the Colosseum echoed with cheers every time a gladiator was killed. We look back and wonder how humans could have been so heartless, but violence was a way of life back then. It was normal, so no one thought it was wrong. For a thousand years, there were those protesting this practice, and those refusing to hear anything against it. Today, we think ancient humans were barbaric. And I have no doubt there will come a time future generations think the same of us. Animals were boiled alive? Skinned alive? Beheaded? For their skin? For their meat? For their bones? If that isn’t barbaric, I don’t know what its.
If there is a murky side to the dairy industry, the meat industry is far worse. Animals are bred and forced to spend their entire lives caged up side by side, packed so tight they barely have space to move. Living in such tight quarters breeds diseases, and to keep diseases under control, animals are systematically pumped with antibiotics which humans unwittingly consume. These antibiotics are also expelled with animal waste and find their way into the soil and waterways directly leading to another crisis: that of antibiotic resistant bacteria and superbugs. Before long humans may once again be powerless against simple ailments like urinary tract infections.
Soil and water degradation
Large tracts of land are cleared to grow corn and soy to feed these animals, and these crops are laden with pesticides, which find their way into the soil and groundwater. Even if we disregard the environment impact of soil and water degradation caused by these practices, let us not forget that this pesticide laden corn and soy ultimately ends up in our bodies when we eat meat. Due to to animal agriculture, our water contains not just heavy metals, but also pesticides, antibiotics, nitrates, arsenic and manure.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Worried about greenhouse gas emissions and think you should walk instead of driving? Yes, use your car less, but did you know that animal farming contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than all the automobiles in the world combined? When manure from animals in a factory is collected in lagoons for extended periods of time it ferments and releases copious amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Heavy rainfall sometimes causes these lagoons to overflow into nearby water bodies, killing thousands of fish. This goes to show just how toxic it is.
Factory farms require copious amounts of water for the animals to drink, to grow the water-intensive crops of corn and soy to feed the animals, and to clean up the quarters, putting a serious strain on the world’s water supply. To put it in perspective, it takes close to 7000 litres of water to produce half a kg of meat, and 100 litres of water to produce the same amount of wheat.
If the havoc factory farming wreaks on the environment is not enough to make you pause before biting into that bacon, here’s some information meat manufactures don’t want you to have.
Terrified piglets are castrated, have their front teeth pulled out and their tails cut off, all without anaesthesia.
They spend their entire lives standing or lying down on a grilled floor, as their waste collects in troughs underneath them.
Their pens are cleaned once a week by men wearing masks because it stinks so much.
When they are so fat their legs can’t carry their weight, they are dragged and flung into trucks and sent to a slaughterhouse. For many, this journey to their death would be their first and only glimpse of sunlight.
At the slaughterhouse they are electrocuted by placing electric pliers on their temples to render them more or less immobile, then they are strung in a line upside from a conveyor belt which takes them to a butcher who slits their throat – one after another.
They don’t die immediately. They are then dropped into boiling water where they kick and scream and uselessly struggle to get out, until they finally see release in death.
And then we record someone kicking a dog and post it on social media, naming and shaming the heartless, barbaric person, for we have empathy. We are a woke, civilised society and yes, we know about factory farming. We’ve read all about it on social media with our progressive lenses fitted on designer frames. Yet, we refuse to see.