Did you know that almost every time you eat a piece of cheese you are supporting the cruel practice of raising veal calves in crates?
Did you know that the ham in your sandwich most likely came from a pig who never saw the light of day and couldn't even turn around in her narrow crate?
Did you know that the average egg comes from a de-beaked chicken crammed with 7 others in a cage the size of a microwave oven? WATCH ANIMATION
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Farmed animals are the most exploited and least protected group of animals in the world. 27 million are killed in the United States alone each day, nearly 19,000 per minute – equating to a tragic total of 10 billion animals per year.
Conclusion & More Info
Over the past 50 years, animal agriculture has evolved from small, family farms to large corporate factory farming systems. Modern agribusiness corporations are built upon the cutthroat attitude of increasing profit margins at all costs – which has had devastating consequences for the animals in their care.
Farmed animals lead a life of misery from the moment they are born to when they are slaughtered. Every day, everywhere across the globe, millions of these animals are mishandled, kept in confinement, mutilated as part of routine husbandry practices, and deprived of basic necessities.
Despite the common belief that drinking milk or eating eggs does not kill animals, commercially-raised dairy cows and egg-laying chickens, whether factory-farmed or "free range," are slaughtered when their production rates decline. The same factory farm methods that are used to produce most meats are also used to produce most milk and eggs -- only worse.
On U.S. farms, an average of 7 egg-laying hens spend their entire lives in a battery cage with a floor area the size of a vinyl record cover. These chickens live on wire floors that deform their feet, in cages so tiny they cannot stretch their wings, and are covered with excrement from cages above them. Lameness, bone disease, and obsessive pecking are common. Pecking is curbed by searing the beaks off young chicks. Although chickens can live up to 15 years, they are usually slaughtered when their egg production rates decline after two years. Hatcheries have no use for male chicks, so they are killed by suffocation, decapitation, gassing, or crushing.
As with any mammal, dairy cows produce milk only when pregnant and stop after their calves have been weaned. When a dairy cow delivers a female calf, the calf becomes a dairy cow herself, born to live in the same conditions as her mother. But when a dairy cow delivers a male calf, the calf is sold to a veal farm within days of birth, where he is tethered to a stall, deprived of food and exercise, and soon slaughtered for meat. Life is only a few years longer for the mother. Because it is unprofitable to keep cows alive once their milk production declines, dairy cows are usually slaughtered at 5 years of age. Thus, a cow's normal life span of 25 years is cut 20 years short just to cut costs and maximize production.
300 million turkeys and 9 billion 'broiler' chickens are slaughtered for human consumption each year in the US. These birds represent over 95% of all land animals slaughtered for food. They are crowded into large, dimly lit sheds that hold as many as 10,000 birds. Because they are bred to gain weight quickly, many birds are crippled by their own weight and unable to walk. They are then unable to get to food and water or to defend themselves from the other birds who trample them on the way to the feeding station. Over time, the building fills with the poisonous stench of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane. After seven weeks, the animals are crammed into wood cages for transport to slaughter.
Beef cattle are typically enclosed in feedlots, which pack tens of thousands of animals per unit. Cows have no protection from rain or snow, freezing wind, or searing heat. They are castrated, dehorned, and branded with no anesthesia or surgical training.
Modern breeding sows are treated like piglet-making machines. Living a continuous cycle of impregnation and birth, each sow has more than 20 piglets per year. After being impregnated, the sows are confined in gestation crates — small metal pens just two feet wide that prevent sows from turning around or even lying down comfortably. At the end of their four-month pregnancies, they are transferred to similarly cramped farrowing crates to give birth. With barely enough room to stand up and lie down and no straw or other type of bedding to speak of, many suffer from sores on their shoulders and knees.
Numerous research studies conducted over the last 25 years have pointed to physical and psychological maladies experienced by sows in confinement. The unnatural flooring and lack of exercise causes obesity and crippling leg disorders, while the deprived environment produces neurotic coping behaviors such as repetitive bar biting and sham chewing (chewing nothing).
After the sows give birth and nurse their young for two to three weeks, the piglets are taken away to be fattened, and the sows are re-impregnated. When the sow is no longer deemed a productive breeder, she is sent to slaughter. When the piglets are able to eat solid food, they are transferred to large, crowded pens. Here they are fed for six months until slaughter.
Transport and Slaughter
Animals are hauled to slaughter for many hours without food, water, or rest, while exposed to extreme temperatures. Many die in transit, and those too sick or injured to walk are dragged with chains to the kill floor.
Consumers have no clue about the cruelty they subsidize. At the slaughterhouse, some of the animals are skinned, dismembered, or drowned in boiling water while still conscious. They are then cut into smaller pieces, wrapped in cellophane, and presented at the supermarket counter.
In addition to the ten billion animals killed by animal agriculture each year for human consumption, hundreds of thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, bison, and other wild animals are shot, maimed, poisoned, and burned alive by farmers and government agents to keep them from interfering with agricultural operations. Tens of millions of starlings and blackbirds are poisoned each year to keep them from eating animal feed.
An even greater threat to wildlife is posed by the destruction of their habitats. Animal agriculture turns hundreds of acres of forest, wetlands, and other habitats into grazing and croplands to feed farm animals.
The consumption of animal fats and proteins has been linked to heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions. Cows' milk contains ideal amounts of fat and protein for young calves, but far too much for humans. And eggs are higher in cholesterol than any other food, making them a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease. The American Dietetic Association reports that vegetarian/vegan diets are associated with reduced risks for all of these conditions.
The most comprehensive study to date regarding the relationship between diet and human health found that the consumption of animal-derived ‘food’ products was linked with "diseases of affluence" such as heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer. T. Colin Campbell's landmark research in The China Project found a pure vegetarian (i.e. vegan) diet to be healthiest. Dr. Campbell estimates that "80 to 90% of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other degenerative illness can be prevented, at least until very old age - simply by adopting a plant-based diet."
The meat, poultry, dairy and egg industries employ technological short cuts— as drugs, hormones, and other chemicals — to maximize production. Under these conditions, virulent pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics are emerging. These new ‘supergerms,’ whose evolution is traceable directly to the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming, have the potential to cause yet unknown human suffering and deaths.
Peculiar new diseases have been amplified by aberrant agribusiness practices. For example, "Mad Cow Disease" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE), a fatal dementia affecting cattle, spread throughout Britain when dead cows were fed to living cows. When people ate cows with "Mad Cow Disease," they got Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a fatal dementia that afflicts humans.
Another farm animal disease beginning to jeopardize human health is avian influenza. In Hong Kong, where scores of people have died from the so-called "bird- flu," over one million chickens have been destroyed in the panic to stop the spread of the disease.
Millions of Americans are infected, and thousands die every year from contaminated animal ‘food’ products. Despite repeated warnings from consumer advocates, the USDA's meat inspection system remains grossly inadequate, and consumers are now being told to "expect" animal products to be tainted.
Meanwhile, the agribusiness industry, rather than advising consumers to curtail their intake of animal products, has devised extreme measures (overcooking, antibiotics, etc.) to help consumers circumvent the hazards of animal products and maintain their gross over-consumption of meat and dairy.
Sadly, these issues are not discussed in our nation's schools or universities, and they are barely discussed by national decision-makers. Nutrition education has been largely relinquished to the very meat and dairy industries that create these problems, and we are left to consume the harmful products of these industries. The responsibility for this tragedy must be shared by individuals, Congress, USDA, and of course, the meat, egg, and dairy industries.
For more on the health benefits of vegan diets, visit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
There is no such thing as a meat-eating environmentalist!
Today's factory farms leave behind an environmental toll that generations to come will be forced to pay. Whether it's excessive water use or contamination, excessive soil use or erosion, excessive resource use or air pollution, America's meat addiction is steadily poisoning and depleting our water, land, and air.
Animal agriculture is an inefficient way of producing food, since feed for farm animals requires land, water, fertilizer, and other resources that could otherwise have been used directly for producing human food.
Animal agriculture's dependence on higher yields accelerates topsoil erosion on our farmlands, rendering land less productive for crop cultivation, and forcing the conversion of wilderness to grazing and farm lands. Animal waste from massive feedlots and factory farms is a leading cause of pollution in our groundwater and rivers. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has linked animal agriculture to a number of other environmental problems, including: contamination of aquatic ecosystems, soil, and drinking water by manure, pesticides, and fertilizers; acid rain from ammonia emissions; greenhouse gas production; and depletion of aquifers for irrigation.
In a time when population pressures have become an increasing stress on the environment, there are additional arguments for a vegan diet. The United Nations has reported that a vegan diet can feed many more people than an animal-based diet. For instance, projections have estimated that the 1992 food supply could have fed about 6.3 billion people on a purely vegetarian diet, 4.2 billion people on a 85% vegetarian diet, or 3.2 billion people on a 75% vegetarian diet.
Caring for the environment means protecting all of our planet’s inhabitants, not just the human ones.
Worldwide, nearly a billion people suffer from chronic hunger. 24,000 people per day or 8.8 million per year die from hunger or related causes. Three-fourths are children under five. Chronic hunger causes stunted growth, poor vision, listlessness, and susceptibility to disease.
Global malnutrition is largely the consequence of inequitable distribution and waste of food resources. Only 10% of hunger deaths are attributed to catastrophic events like famine or war. Hunger is a complex problem, but huge amounts of waste occur because of non-sustainable practices related to animal agriculture, such as depletion of cultivable land, topsoil, water, energy, and minerals, and the extremely inefficient process of converting plants-based foods into animal-based foods.
A meat-based diet requires 10-20 times as much land as a plant-based diet. Nearly half of the world's grains and soybeans are fed to animals, resulting in a huge waste of food calories. The extent of waste is such that even a 10% drop in US meat consumption would make sufficient food available to feed the world's starving millions.
"If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you can do." -Paul McCartney
Moreover, animal agriculture has been devastating the world's agricultural land. The process begins with clear-cutting of forests to create cattle pastures. Eventually, the pastures are plowed under and used to grow animal feed crops. Depletion of topsoil and minerals begins soon after the trees are cut down and escalates with tilling. Without the plant growth to hold it in place, topsoil, laden with minerals, fertilizer, and organic debris, is carried by the runoff of rain and melting snow into nearby streams. The insatiable demand for animal feed crops leads to the use of sloping land with greater runoff and arid land requiring irrigation. Irrigation accounts for more than 80% of all water available for human use, leading to widespread water shortages. More information is available from goveg.com.
Conclusion and More Info
Every day, several times a day, we make dietary choices that directly affect our health, the health (hunger) of others, the environment, and of course animal suffering. Individually and combined these issues are overwhelming, but changing our food choices to wholesome and compassionate plant-based foods is the best way to help ourselves while helping others.
Information provided by Farm Animal Reform Movement, Veg News and Farm Sanctuary.
From Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary