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Animals as Food

By       Message Tina Volpe       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   35 comments

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Animals as Food

   Regrettably, animals that are raised for food have very few laws protecting them from abuse, overcrowding, filth, and neglect, not to mention the complete lack of exercise, access to practice their natural instincts, and void of sunshine, dirt and fresh air.   The absence of legal rights for farm animals -- as opposed to domestic animals is appalling.

   Cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, turkeys and other farm animals are deprived of legal protection against abuse, beatings, scalding alive, gestation crates (crates that don't allow pigs to even turn around), veal crates (baby cows chained on ground and can't move) battery cages (cages that are so crammed with chickens so they can't move) and so much more that is hidden from the public eye.   They endure more than any creature should ever have to live through.   They are sentient beings just as humans, who feel pain and suffering. (Sneddon)

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   Although, the " Humane Slaughter Act of 1978" exists, which states that animals in slaughterhouses are required to receive "proper treatment' and "humane handling' whatever you believe that to be, this law does not apply to fowl.   And sadly, it is rarely, if ever, adhered to in any farm animal or fowl factory farm- because the numbers of animals slaughtered are too great to allow any kind of humane treatment.   (USDA)

   Ten billion (10,000,000,000) land animals are slaughtered each year, in the U.S. alone.   The numbers for chickens slaughtered each year is around 7 billion ( 7,000,000,000. ) 98% of animals raised for food are killed and processed in a slaughterhouse.   The other 2% are slaughtered in backyard butcher shops, organic farms or grass fed farms. The extremity of these numbers make it impossible to "do the right thing' when an animal is hanging by one leg on an assembly line, and perhaps didn't make the stun gun which is meant to render them unconscious before the knife slits their throat.   Some animals even make it to the "scalding tank alive' as evidenced by many slaughterhouse workers' testimony.

   According to slaughter plant worker, Tommy Vladak, "After they left me, the hogs would go up a hundred-foot ramp to a tank where they're dunked in 140 - water...Water any hotter than that would take the meat right off their bones...There's no way these animals can bleed out in the few minutes it takes to get up the ramp. By the time they hit the scalding tank, they're still fully conscious and squealing. Happens all the time." (Eisnitz)

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   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 results in neurotic coping behaviors such as bar biting, dog sitting, and "mourning". Investigator Lauren Ornelas said, after visiting several pig factory farms, "what will remain with me forever is the sound of desperate pigs banging their heads against immovable doors and their constant and repeated biting at the prison bars that held them captive. This, I now know, is a sign of mental collapse." (Compassionate Action for Animals)

   A pigs' life isn't their own, in any sense of the word.   Pigs are known to be intelligent, loving, playful, curious beings, that need stimulation, love and to be treated with some semblance of respect.   This is not the case whatsoever" the horrors they experience in factory farms and slaughterhouses is abominable.   " Approximately 100 million pigs are raised and slaughtered in the U.S. every year. As babies, they are subjected to painful mutilations without anesthesia or pain relievers. The piglets' tails are cut off to minimize tail biting, an aberrant behavior which occurs when these highly intelligent animals are kept in deprived factory farm environments. In addition, notches are taken out of the piglets' ears for identification."

   "At 2 to 3 weeks of age, the piglets are taken away from their mothers, by which time, approximately 15% will have died. The surviving piglets are crowded into pens with metal bars and concrete floors. A headline from National Hog Farmer magazine advises, "Crowding Pigs Pays...". The pigs endure overcrowded confinement buildings for their entire lives - until they reach a slaughter weight of 250 pounds at 6 months of age."

   "Mother pigs (sows), spend most of their lives in individual "gestation" crates, which are approximately seven-feet-long and two-feet-wide--too small for them to even turn around. Just before giving birth, they are moved to "farrowing" crates, which are not large enough for them to even turn around or build nests for their young. According to a March 2004 article in the Des Moines Register, "A pregnant sow's biological need to build a nest before having her litter is so great that some sows confined in modern hog buildings will rub their snouts raw on the concrete floor while trying to satisfy the drive." (Compassionate action for Animals)

   Is this humane behavior in any sense of the word?

   Chickens don't have it much better.   From Virgil Butler, a Tyson Foods worker: " Some nights I worked in the kill room. The killer slits the throats of the chickens that the killing machine misses. You stand there with a very sharp 6-inch knife and catch as many birds as you can that the machine misses because the ones you miss go straight into the scalder alive. You have to cut both carotid arteries and the jugular vein for the chicken to die and bleed out before hitting the scalder. This requires quite a bit of skill and entails quite a bit of risk. It's the most dangerous job in that department. All but one of the most serious accidents I saw the whole time I worked for Tyson occurred in the kill room due to the killer having to cut the throat of a one-legger. Some of those accidents happened to me. I have scars all over my hands from working the kill floor."   Virgil Butler, Tyson Food's worker. (Poultry Press)

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   The fact is, they feel the pain.   They not only feel pain, they are frightened constantly, and they suffer tremendously at the events that take place in a factory farm, or slaughterhouse.   They never breathe fresh air, but air laden with ammonia and other chemcials -- rending them sick with lung infections and other diseases due to the filthy conditions they are forced to live.   According to the "Sustainable Animal Production" author, Lynn Sneddon of the Roslin Institute, animals feel extreme pain and can suffer for extended periods of time.   Their emotions and pain mirror that of humans. (Sneddon)

   So, the reality that abuse, blatant torture and extensive pain occur regularly on these condensed animal farms should trigger an empathetic cord in all human beings.   Humans are mammals, and the connection to other mammals is undeniable.   If our food choices are causing this kind of pain, how can we, as fellow mammals, accept this so readily, and go on with our carnivorous ways?  

   Laws need to be enacted to either stop the barbaric slaughter process and the factory farm environment, or soon our food won't be safe to eat nor will it be nutritious enough to swallow.   Animal deaths caused by illness and lack of nutrition is commonplace as the numbers can attest -- only about 75% of them make to slaughter alive.   They are sickly, diseased, weak and shot with hormones, antibiotics and eat food that isn't fit for a rat.   Something has got to change to enable them a better life, as well as a healthier environment for them as well as humans.

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Tina Volpe is the author of The Fast Food Craze, Wreaking Havoc on Our Bodies and Our Animals, Canyon Publishing LLC, 2004; and co-author (with Judy Carman) The Missing Peace, The Hidden Power of Our Kinship With Animals (a Silver winner in the (more...)

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