Tonight I came across a video titled "I am scared and don't want to die." It was a secretly filmed segment of one cow's last few minutes of life. The cow knew of its fate behind the door of the slaughterhouse and very obviously did not want to go in for fear of impending death.
Our society is very far removed from the animals that we consume, whether in the form of meat, leather, or dairy products. It was not always this way, but as countries became more industrialized and focused on mass production, efficiency, and profit in the past few centuries, they also lost their connection with animals as they moved out of the agricultural and farming lifestyles. As the meat industry expanded along with capitalism, so did the forced breeding and killing of animals. As objects of investment, the animals' natural needs and wants became disregarded and secondary to what would make the most money for those running the meat business.
This led to maximizing the number of animals kept within a certain area of space and thus inhumane, overcrowded quarters for chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs. A lifetime of confinement in filthy, tiny cement stalls of farm factories is, to say the least, unnatural. This also led to feeding the animals unnatural foods including antibiotic and growth hormones to rapidly increase body mass and shorten the period between life to slaughter, again for the purpose of obtaining more profit per animal. Unnatural feeding not only harms animals and leaves them crippled and disabled due to the disproportionate weight of their bodies, but its consequences have also shown itself through the public health (for example through the rapidly increasing rate of weight gain and early age of menarche for young girls due to high level of estrogen).
Furthermore, the treatment of farm animals as objects of investment led to the most cheap yet most cruel methods of raising and killing animals. Aside from "living spaces" that often leave no room for animals to turn around, equivalent to a human living in something smaller and narrower than a public bathroom stall, other cruel methods include surgical procedures aimed to reduce fatality in the farm, which are often performed without anesthesia. Piglets have their tails docked off with scissors to prevent other pigs from chewing on them, a behavior due to stress. Baby chicks have their beaks seared off with a hot iron machine to prevent pecking and injuring other birds, which is again a behavior caused by stress. These are but a few examples of how our farm animals suffer a lifetime of invasive and forced procedures aimed to protect their value as products.
The final strike of our mistreatment of farm animals ends with their murder, which I need not go into detail here- all you need to know is that this kind of slaughterhouse murder would be punishable by law if it occurs to any human being or pet animal in many countries. Finally, the manipulation of the consumer market, which limits consumer knowledge, and promotion of meat and animals products through sales strategies and marketing by the meat industry is another issue that contributes to farm animal cruelty- however, it is a topic for another day.
We humans have unnaturally caused the existence and also suffering of hundreds of millions of animals through artificial insemination (or forced breeding) and cruel methods of farming all tailored towards human benefit. That is selfishness and a disrespect to the gift of sentient animals provided by the earth. The video that I posted above of the frightened cow refusing to enter the slaughterhouse is a perfect illustration of what I mean by sentience. You may take this with a grain of salt, but I have heard from others that cows not only cry (with tears in their eyes) but also talk as if they were begging for their lives when they realize they are meeting their end.
Furthermore, our farm animals share a similar basic nervous system with us and our pet cats and dogs and other mammals, which means they can think, feel, understand and plan. Although their cognitive abilities are relatively limited when compared to humans, there is no factor that will be good enough reason enough to condemn them to (for lack of better terms) a life of hell.. unless you believe that infants or mentally disabled people of less developed cognition deserve less than a fair chance at life and personal happiness. People who have interacted with animals know that cats, dogs, cows, chickens, and pigs are social animals that share close bonds with their companions and hold the capacity to feel pain, suffering, and happiness.
Before I end this note, I want to touch on one more thing. Where does this "value" (that I mentioned three paragraphs ago) for animal meat come from? The economic value of something is determined by what a consumer is willing to pay for a product, thus how much profit a company can reap through the production of something. It can be influenced but is not ultimately decided by the supply or corporate end of the market. Instead, it is decided by the choices of those with purchasing power- both you and I.
This post is based on my understanding and research over the last few years of the present day meat industry. It is a simplified overview of the development, nature, injustices and tragedies of our farm factories where innocent souls are brutally mistreated by the hundreds of millions. Modern farm factory practices are truly an atrocity for the disadvantaged whose voices and lives are sealed behind slaughterhouse doors.
If you have any thoughts, questions or feedback for me at all, please comment below- an Google account is not required.