Issues in Factory Farming
In my studies this past week at IIN the subject was on livestock factory farming. I listened to a wonderful, very inspiring story told by Howard Lyman — a cattle rancher turned vegan who has been an big advocate for spreading information on what really happens at these factory farms.
Then I saw it for myself as I watched a series of horrific videos that showed the disgusting living conditions and awful abuse animals suffer in different factory farms.
This is not a new issue to me, nor was this the first time that I’ve watched realities behind what goes on with the animals at these factory farms, but seeing these images again have placed an imprint in my mind, triggering a series of bad dreams and a lost desire to eat any animal products.
Part of my assignment this week was to spread the word about this issue of livestock factory farming, so here I am doing my part — releasing these images as best as I can — in hopes that they will help you better understand this issue, and if it is not new to you then take it as a reminder that this is still going on.
Images of Cruelty at Factory Farms
I first learned about the realities of factory farming after watching the highly recommended film Food Inc.
One thing that stood out for me after watching this film was the fact that many commercially raised chickens are being fed antibiotics to make them grow faster. This fattens up the breast part of the chicken (since white meat is so desired), but so much so that theses chickens are no longer able to stand — crippled underneath their own weight.
After this week, I also learned that chickens are the most abused animals in factory farms. Often times they are stuffed into cramped areas with no access to sunlight. Many spend times in cages next to other dead or sick birds.
I watched images of chickens being slaughtered in a conveyor belt type system where they are hung upside down to have their heads chopped off, while some are scalded to death in de-feathering tanks.
Further images remain in my mind from a movie I watched awhile back called Vegucated of the cruelties that happen at factory egg farms. Little baby chickens came down the conveyor belt and workers pulled out the females (since they are the egg layers), while the little male chicks are chopped up alive.
One vivid image I hold from the videos this past week are of a little baby pig getting its ears and tails chopped (to prevent tail biting and to identify the pigs) with absolutely no anethesia or pain relivers. That poor little baby pig was just screaming….. Ugh.
I watched as mother dairy cows have their babies stripped from them as soon as they are born. Then these baby cows are put up for auction (as meat for veal) — so underdeveloped and cramped in areas that they are unable to stand.
I watched an episode on Oprah awhile back that went inside the convines of a factory cattle farm. I believe it was one in my home state of Colorado. While the conditions were slightly more humaine…. I could not get past the look in the eyes of the cows walking down the very silent pathway to their death.
That fear really resonates. One video I watched this past week showed a cow trying to turn around in the very narrow area before its death. Full of fear.
I think that this energy is passed along to the food. Have you noticed the difference in taste between factory farmed meat vs. responsibly raised meat? I have and think this has to do with the animal’s life and death.
Factory Farming and the Environment
Both movies Food Inc and Vegucated display rememberable aerial images of factory farms that raise cattle. When you look at this way, it is really quite jaw dropping. Are we really eating that much meat?
A quick glance across the American landscape says — yes we are. There are fast food restaurants on every corner — McDonalds, Burger King, etc — all serving up burgers for cheap. It’s come to a point where it is cheaper to have a meat filled meal than it is to have a salad or other veggie based dish.
This is a problem. Not only for our health but for the health of the environment.
I learned this week that the methane given off by these factory cattle farms is doing more damage to ozone than the entire transportation system combined, and that huge pieces of the Amazon rainforest have been cut down to support cattle farms.
The truth in these images is that we cannot sustain this way of living. The environment cannot sustain it. Something needs to change. But it feels kind of overwhelming. The issue feels far reaching — what can we do…
To Meat or Not to Meat?
I’ve struggled with the question — meat or no meat in the past. I have experimented with being vegan. And while these horrible, abusive images of animals — of living beings– are still fresh in my mind — I’ve been following a vegan diet ever since.
My past experiences, however, have taught me that this option is not sustainable for me. I feel like my body does feel better with a little meat in me, so I’ve included eggs, chicken, turkey and bits of bacon here and there — but I’ve kept my consumption down to a minimum.
Most of the time I refrain from eating any animal products.
I think that if every American cut down on their meat consumption that a lot of these farming practices would go away. We’ve been conditioned to think that it is alright to have meat for three meals a day, but that is just not sustainable for the environment. If we decrease the demand for it then we decrease (or better eliminate) the supply.
On the Positive Side?
There are responsible ways to choose the meat that we eat. One way is to look for those labeled “pasture raised“. This means that the animals were allowed to roam freely around the pasture, eating grass and overall having a higher quality life.
For those of us who do still eat (a small amount) of meat, I feel better knowing that there are a bunch of organizations that make it easier to find humanely raised and sustainable products:
- Eat Well Guide
- American Pastured Poultry Producters
- Sustainable Table
- Local Harvest
- Heritage Foods USA
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
What about you? Have you gone vegan? Tried it in the past? Do you notice that it has improved your health? I would love to hear from you.