[from COK's Vegetarian
The animals we eat are individuals who experience
pleasure, fear, and pain. Think about the
dogs or cats or other animals you may have
lived with. The animals we dont know
very well, like chickens, cows or pigs, are
just as capable of experiencing sorrow, terror,
joy, and other emotions as are those animals
we do know. All of them, whether chicken or
cat, pig or poodle, experience a wide range
of emotions and value their lives. Yet, the
animals who we eat in this country are treated
so abusively that similar treatment of dogs
or cats would be grounds for animal cruelty
charges in all 50 states.
In the United States alone, more than 10
billion land animals (and billions more aquatic
animals) are slaughtered for food every yearmore
than 1 million birds, pigs, cows, and other
animals every hour. The overwhelming majority
of them are kept on factory farms, where the
goal is to raise as many animals as possible
in the least amount of time and space.
The Free-Range Myth
Many of us may think of "free-range"
farms as idyllic places where pigs relax in
mud baths, chickens strut about, and cows
graze leisurely in lush, green pastures while
their calves romp playfully. We couldnt
be more wrong. There are few government regulations
or industry standards to monitor this profitable
myth, so inhumane conditions and mistreatment
of the animals are common. In fact, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture defines "free-range"
and "free-roaming" only for labeling
purposes and has no inspection system in place
to verify that those farms claiming to be
"free-range" actually are.
As with factory-farmed animals, "free-range"
animals can be subjected to the same physical
mutilations without painkillers and are still
sent to the same slaughterhouses as their
factory-farmed relatives at a young age when
their "productivity" wanes.
Dr. Charles Olentine, industry trade journal
Egg Industry editor, put it best in the October
2002 issue: "Just because it says free-range
does not mean that it is welfare-friendly."
Choosing Compassion Over Killing
The more we learn about cows, pigs, chickens,
turkeys, and, in fact, all of the animals
we confine and kill for food, the more we
realize they are not that different from us.
Certainly, they are no less worthy of our
concern than the cats and dogs we live with
and give our affection.
Most importantly, these "food"
animals feel pain just as much and just as
intensely as do dogs and cats. Sadly though,
they are treated horrifically by the industries
that turn them into nuggets, filets, or hot
dogs. When we eat meat, eggs, and dairy, we
are responsible for animal abuse. In order
for us to have their flesh, milk, and eggs,
farmed animals are denied nearly everything
that is natural to them and are almost always
abused in ways that would revolt us were we
forced to participate. Each one of us has
a choice: Do we want to support cruelty, or
do we want to support kindness and compassion?
What is exciting is that each one of us has
the ability to say no to animal cruelty every
time we eat. The next time you sit down to
a meal, please choose to eat compassionately.
Please choose the vegetarian option.