This story was shared by Robert Grillo, the founder of Free From Harm. Grillo started the nonprofit group to make people aware that their choice of food matters. “Food choice is the most powerful tool we have for creating a healthier and more humane world for people, animals and the environment, says Grillo.” The activist strongly believes in social justice for animals, especially farm animals that are seen as “commodities” rather than living beings. The vast number of animals slaughtered in the U.S. each year for food is mindboggling, but the millions that are allowed to linger until they die is beyond any sense of humanity.
FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) has released its report on animals killed for food in the US in 2010 based largely on the USDA’s own data. Of all the findings, perhaps the most mind numbing statistic is this: Of the 10,153,000,000 land animals systematically killed across the country, 875,000,000 of these animals died lingering deaths from disease, injury, starvation, suffocation, maceration, or other atrocities of animal farming and transport. Assuming that all of these practices were perfectly legal, we have an industry that exploits and abuses animals with impunity and a flagrant disregard for their most basic needs as sentient beings.
There is perhaps no greater example of speciesism in practice than this. A look at how the legal system in the US handles cases of criminal animal abuse proves that this speciesism against farm animals is not only accepted as the norm, but a legally protected principle over its actual victims. If these animals were cats, dogs or horses, their perpetrators could be criminally prosecuted on felony charges, but farmers and corporations are not held accountable for their abuses against farm animals, animals that are essentially equal in their level of sentience. And yet 91% of the 10,153,000,000 farm animals killed in 2010 are chickens with absolutely no legal protections whatsoever. This is, in no way, a rational or consistent application of animal protection law.
There is no moral or rational justification for causing suffering to 875,000,000 animals or even one of them. We do so not because we need to, not because animal products are essential to our health. We do so for no other reason than because we derive pleasure from eating them. If we follow this faulty logic, it would also be justifiable to maim a dog because we were angry at that dog. Following this logic opens the floodgates to legally sanction all forms of violence against humans and non-human animals that we are witnessing today.
The answer is not more welfare reform that will regulate the exploitation of animals while continuing to falsely objectify them as commodities (rather than acknowledge them for what they really are). The answer is not more “humane” ways of killing more animals through gassing, electrocution, poisons and other horrendous methods. The answer is not to seek false refuge in “higher welfare” products that (even if they were deemed acceptable) could never be mass produced to support the US population. Let’s stop deluding ourselves. We need to redirect our energies and focus on building a movement that educates people on why this kind of exploitation is wrong, fundamentally and rationally, because we are not dealing with widgets here. We are dealing with sentient beings who have interests of their own and who have at least one right, the right NOT to be exploited by an industry that has no legitimate moral claim for exploiting them in the first place-no more than an individual who abuses a dog or cat.
Photo: Free From Harm. Doris was rescued from a factory farm and now lives with Free From Harm founder, Robert Grillo