Is Factory Farming the Greatest Evil Ever?
Contemporary animal agribusiness is the greatest evil ever perpetrated by humanity. There have been many horrors that were evil acts, but in scope and brutality perhaps none exceeds factory farming.
1. In the United States, over 1 million land animals are killed per hour. The vast majority endured lives of unrelieved suffering and abuse in factory farms. Humans have abused humans and nonhumans for millennia, but in terms of numbers, no human atrocity comes close to the contemporary institution of factory farming.
2. Genocides usually end with the extermination of the victims. In contrast, nonhumans are continually being bred in response to an insatiable appetite for flesh. Of course, there have been times when human slavery has persisted for centuries, so the perpetual nature of factory farming is distinctive but not unique.
3. In general, when humans have killed or abused fellow humans, the intended reasons (however misguided or flatly incorrect they might be) related to important concerns. For example, many of the perpetrators of the Holocaust against the Jews, the Rwandan genocide of Tutsi, and the American extermination of most of the Native Americans believed that their crimes were necessary to preserve societies against major threats. In contrast, factory farming serves only to meet a food preference. Moreover, the extreme brutality of factory farming reflects a desire to obtain flesh and other animal products as cheaply as possible. If people were willing to pay a little more for these products, their procurement would still entail abuse, but the degree of abuse could be far less.
4. Victims of human abuse have not deserved their ill-treatment, but often they were not completely innocent. For example, the lighter-skinned Tutsi, arguably benefiting from racist policies of Belgian colonials, exploited Hutus, leading to resentment that culminated in the massacre of Tutsis by Hutus when the opportunity arose. Factory farmed animals are totally innocent. They never intentionally harm anyone (though, in their effort to escape pain or death, they do occasionally hurt farm workers).
5. Humans can often struggle on their own behalf, arguing against institutions that mistreat them or even fighting against their tormentors. In contrast, nonhumans have no effective means of resisting their human oppressors.
6. The preference for flesh is a leading cause of human-caused misery. Consuming flesh and other animal products has contributed heavily to global warming, squandering of limited natural resources, and reducing food security.
Farming has been drastically changed over the last 25 years. Small farms have been replaced by large, industrialized factory operations, and animals and the natural world have become mere commodities in the process. While agribusiness has mastered the art of “growing” and killing animals faster and on a larger scale than ever before, the costs and negative results of this so called “cheap” food system are severe for us all.
Against Our Better Natures
Factory farms confine animals by the thousands in massive warehouses, treating them like production units rather than as living, feeling individuals. Millions are packed in cages and crates so tightly that they can’t walk, turn around or even stretch their limbs. Mahatma Gandhi was correct when he said, “The moral progress of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated.” We have some soul searching to do here in the U.S., where we currently subject more than 9 billion farm animals to appalling cruelties. Acting with callous disregard for the feelings of other animals undermines our empathic natures and humane sensitivities.
Recent research conducted by representatives of the meat industry surfaced our feelings on this matter. More than 40% of consumers surveyed agreed that our country was on the wrong track in terms of how we produce food, with another 20% uncertain about the soundness of our food supply. We feel that there is something wrong but we may be too busy, tired or confused to do much about it, so we have accepted the status quo without appreciating its long term implications. Agribusiness counts on our complacency.
Against Our Better Interests
Animals who are raised for food are denied their most basic needs and suffer both physical and psychological disorders as result. Stressed and confined in filthy, cramped quarters, the animals we eat are constantly at risk for disease. In response, agribusiness depends on regular quantities of drugs and other chemical inputs to keep the animals alive and productive. The majority of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to farm animals. This excessive and irresponsible use of antibiotics has contributed to the development of virulent, antibiotic-resistant pathogens, which render these formerly life-saving drugs useless for treating illnesses in people.
The spread of disease from factory farming is exacerbated when waste products, including manure and the remains of animals who have died, are used to feed animals being raised for meat, milk and eggs. Hundreds of millions of farm animals die in the factory farming system each year, and by turning their carcasses into feed, the animal agriculture industry can save on disposal costs and feed costs at the same time. The whole system is unhealthy and irresponsible. Disease is so rampant, that the U.S.D.A. explicitly allows diseased animals to be slaughtered and sold for human food, because excluding these animals would result in financial losses for agribusiness.
We subject animals to unnecessary suffering and early deaths, and in turn, we experience the same. Food-borne sicknesses infect millions of Americans every year, killing thousands, and whether these illnesses spring from animal products or other foods, the source of the contamination is often traceable to factory farms. Consuming too many animal products also clogs our arteries and leads to heart disease, which is our nation’s number one killer. We suffer from preventable illnesses and premature deaths, while heath care costs skyrocket. Leading health experts estimate that 70% to 80% of U.S. health care costs could be eliminated by replacing animal products with a whole foods, plant-based diet. We eat food that makes us sick, then take drugs to keep us alive. This system makes no sense.
Against Our Future
Factory farming is one of the top contributors to our planet’s most significant environmental problems according to a report by the United Nations, which cited “problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity.” The report said that the livestock industry is a greater contributor to global warming than the transportation industry. It’s important to lessen our transportation footprint, but we could have an even larger impact by changing the foods we put on our plates.
Raising animals for food is terribly wasteful. It demands vast quantities of increasingly scarce resources, including water, topsoil and fossil fuels. Growing plant foods and consuming them directly is much more efficient and sustainable than growing corn and soybeans to feed animals before we consume them. Industrial animal farming depletes and squanders precious natural resources, and pollutes what remains. The amount of manure generated by animals in factory farms is too much for the environment to absorb. It poisons the land and water, and sends noxious fumes into the air, threatening ecosystems, wildlife and people who live nearby.
Our food system is in desperate need of reform; people, animals and the Earth are suffering. Thankfully, we are beginning to pay attention. Many citizens are demanding more transparency around how food, and especially animal products, are produced. We are no longer comfortable accepting how agribusiness keeps animals who are raised for food hidden from us. When agribusiness has introduced legislation to ban the average person from documenting abuses on factory farms, their proposals have triggered widespread popular revulsion and have been defeated. We are waking up to the cruelty inflicted on animals and demanding better for them, and for ourselves.
And, we should continue to press producers, distributors and our government representatives for even more transparency about animal agriculture and healthier food options. Each of us should speak out about local legislation exempting factory farms from environmental standards, subsidies in the upcoming Farm Bill that favor producing crops for animals on factory farms instead of for people, and the lack of legal protections for farm animals, which allows the meat industry to neglect cows, pigs, chickens and other animals in ways that cause contamination, illness and egregious suffering. Encourage your grocery store to carry more plant-based alternatives to common animal products. Choose a veggie burger, instead of a beef one; soy milk, instead of cow’s milk. These individual actions can make a tremendous difference.
In fact, more people are opting out of our industrialized food system in favor of local and sustainably produced foods. Farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are sprouting up across the U.S., while restaurants and other food retailers are providing more sustainably produced healthful plant food options. As I drove across the country earlier this year, on a culinary tour of vegetarian eating, I also saw community gardening projects sprinkled among urban and suburban areas. These programs allow us to grow healthy foods and recreate a sense of community. I am very happy to see more citizens thinking about their food choices and making decisions that are more aligned with their values and interests.
By learning about factory farming’s impact on your local community and our country, urging our elected representatives to support reforms and requesting more plant-based foods in our grocery stores and restaurants, we will be the change our food system needs. Through our farmers markets, CSAs and community gardens, we can share foods, recipes and meals that represent a better, healthier and more humane food supply. One that centers on eating plants instead of animals; one that supports our health instead of undermining it; and one that helps us preserve the natural world, and our relationship to it, in a way that connects us to our better natures and the best we have to offer each other.
Factory farming is the biggest evil in the world today. Each year billions of animals are subject to the most cruel forms of treatment for their whole lives and then mercilessly slaughtered. There is no such thing as a humane kill. As one ex-cattle rancher who has become an animal rights activist says “they know what’s coming and will fight with all they have to the end in order to try to preserve their life”.
Animals value their lives just as much as we value ours. There is no enzymes in meat to break down the substances it has in order for our body to digest them. Instead what we put in our bodies by eating animals is saturated fats and cholesterol which clog our arteries and is the reason for the number one killer in the USA which is heart disease. Many other illnesses such as diabetes, stroke and cancer is also the result of eating animals. Conditions on factory farms are terrible and this leads to high levels of bacteria which we also wind up ingesting. The hormones which are forced upon these poor animals also get passed to the consumer. There is 0 compassion at these places towards animals who are living, breathing, thinking, feeling and aware beings. Beings who want to live and be happy just we do. Who can feel pain just like we can.
70% of what we grow – mostly GMO soybean and GMO corn goes to feeding animals on factory farms. The environmental consequences of this is enormous as GMO seeds infiltrate other areas.
If we quit eating animals and grow natural produce instead not only would we be healthier but we would have more food.
98% of the meat in todays supermarkets come from factory farms. Supporting such an abhorrent depravity and eating the chopped up animals coming from there is not only physically bad for you but spiritually bad for you.
The battle is against greed and indifference and ignorance.
We expand our soul by extending love towards our precious animal friends!
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