Animals As Food

The dominant global culture of eating meat ensures that farmed animals are the most exploited animals on earth. The routine brutality of farming them for food causes more individual suffering than any other human practice and abuse and cruelty are synonymous with the meat production process. Our habit of eating animals is a powerful and tangible example of how alienated we are from the way our food is produced.

In 2003 the number of land-based animals killed for food worldwide was 52.7 billion and that does not include non slaughter deaths (that is death due to injury whilst there) and underreporting of figures from smaller countries. Eating animals hides behind assumptions that animals which are not human are incapable of suffering.

We are somewhat hypnotised into believing things are not as bad as they really are. A slaughter house becomes a meat eating plant, dead bodies becomes meat, chickens become poultry, sheep become mutton and so on. To justify meat eating, consumers want to believe the killing process is a sanitised and humane affair. It is not possible in this day and age to take farmed animals from birth to death without inflicting suffering. If you treat slaves humanely, does this make slavery justifiable.

The government is solidly behind the meat industry and puts profit before social good and the general public interest. Our south african government is more concerned with animals being dead than wheN they are alive. For farm animals life is an eternal hell.

Chickens are produced for two kinds of food: Eggs and meat. In SA they are the most consumed animals and have been for many years. In 2003 the number of chickens slaughtered was 545 million. These animals are genetically engineered to grow unnaturally fast so that they become big, meaty and breasty. This laces a huge strain on their undeveloped limbs, causing painful cripling and deformities. Their bones are unable to form properly, often do not calcify and remain soft cartilage. Now because of this their little legs bend or break under their unnatural weight and so they cannot even get to the water in their sheds. They are dying like this but antibiotics are given to them to promote growth and keep them alive long enough to make it to slaughter.

To keep production costs down, the animals are given the bare minimum needed to survive. The happy farmyard scenes painted on egg boxes or in TV ads for meat and dairy products are marketing creations, the reality of modern farms is very different. Huge, dark, stinking sheds are crammed full of miserable animals, who never breathe fresh air or see natural daylight other than during transport to a market or slaughterhouse. They can hardly stretch their wings or legs and will never be able to roam freely. They often have to stand, and lie down in, their own waste.
Farmed animals are treated as though they are stupid and unfeeling, but they experience pain, discomfort, fear, loneliness and frustration in exactly the same way as all animals do, including humans. Most farmed animals are slaughtered at just a few months old.

Natural life span Age at which typically killed
Cattle 25-30 years 1-2 years
Sheep 15 years 3-10 months
Pigs 15 years 3-6 months
Chickens 10 years 6 weeks
Egg-laying hens 10 years 18 months
Turkeys 10 years 12-26 weeks
Rabbits 6-8 years 6-8 weeks

• the breeding animals are kept alive longer.

PIGS

Female pigs (sows) are subjected to an endless cycle of pregnancies to produce as many piglets as possible. The majority are forced to give birth and feed their young in cages known as furrowing crates, which prevent them from moving freely. After three or four weeks, the piglets are transferred to barren, concrete pens. At around six months of age, they are killed by having their throats cut. Pigs in factory farms suffer from boredom, frustration and health problems, such as lameness and viral infections. Contrary to popular belief, they like to keep themselves clean, which is impossible in the filthy conditions in which they are forced to stay.

BIRDS

In the wild, chickens like to dust-bathe, turkeys fly considerable distances, and ducks spend most of their lives on water. But in poultry farms, thousands are crammed together in dark sheds, unable to express their natural instincts. The birds are fattened up so quickly that their legs may not be able to carry the weight of their own bodies. Each year, millions die from thirst and hunger because they collapse and are unable to drag themselves to the food and water units. Broiler chickens reared for meat spend the whole of their short lives crammed inside sheds. Others die from suffocation and crushing. Broiler chickens reared for meat spend the whole of their short lives crammed inside sheds.
© Animals’ Agenda

COWS and THE TRUTH ABOUT MILK

Dairy cows produce milk only after giving birth. To keep up the supply, they are kept in a constant cycle of being made pregnant and then having the baby taken away so that the milk meant for their calf can be sold for human consumption. The calves are essentially a waste by-product. Separation is extremely distressing for both mother and baby. Dairy cows are so over-milked that most milk producing cows suffer painful infection of the udders, which causes traces of pus and blood to leak into the milk (a certain amount of pus per liter is allowed as infection is standard) . By five years old, they will be too worn-out to produce the quantities of milk required and are killed. The female calves are kept to replace the worn out cows and male calves are either killed or sold for ‘veal’ (calves eaten for their tender pale flesh).

Eggs and the ‘free range myth’

Egg-laying hens are a different breed from the chickens kept for meat production (known as ‘broilers’). Most eggs today come from battery farms where four or five hens are packed into tiny cages, barely bigger than a microwave oven. The EU has banned battery cages from 2012 but the containers they propose to replace them with, called ‘enriched cages’, are not much better. Some hens are kept in barns and although uncaged, the conditions are still filthy and overcrowded. Millions of ‘useless’ day-old male chicks are gassed or shredded alive because they can’t lay eggs and, being the ‘wrong’ type of chicken, won’t grow enough meat to be considered profitable.

The ‘Free-range’ myth

‘Free-range’ is a very misleading term – the animals are still usually reared in small living spaces with restricted access to the Outdoors. Organic production is more to benefit humans who do not want to consume pesticides and antibiotics. Organic and free-range animals might have a slightly better quality of life than those who are intensively reared, but they still die a bloody death at the slaughterhouse.

More, more, more!

Animals are now being genetically selected and manipulated to produce more milk, more meat and more babies.

• Battery hens lay 20 times more eggs than they would naturally.
• Dairy cows produce ten times more milk than their calves would ever require. This causes painful infections of the cows’ teats

Research is constantly carried out to increase ‘output’ – as measured by the volume of milk, the number of babies born and the speed at which they can be fattened for slaughter. This drive towards increased ‘efficiency’ is pursued regardless of the consequences for the animals’ own health or welfare.

FISH

So many fish are killed each year that it is impossible to put a figure on it. Fish can be dragged along the seabed for hours in giant drift nets. When hauled up from the deep, they undergo agonizing decompression. Frequently, the internal pressure ruptures their swim bladders, pops out their eyes, and pushes their gullets and stomachs out through their mouths. Factory ships process the fish at sea and they are often gutted alive. Industrial fish farms breed fish in huge pens with no room to swim. Disease runs rife in the crowded, dirty water. Sea lice pose a particular problem, eating the fish alive.

What you can do

(ANIMAL AID)The most significant and far reaching thing you can do is to go vegan stop eating animal products and boycott cruelty at every meal. this is possible, effective – read veg101 to get started.

* this information has been formulated and taken from Animal Aid.