Do you realize that every time you eat cooked meet you are eating a dead animal? A steak on your plate is a cow that died in torments, with its eyes still blinking after a knife was stuck in her or his throat. A chicken soup is a killed chicken whose legs were still twitching after the butcher broke its neck. Still looking for a sausage for lunch? Think again.
Let's put aside arguments that meat is unhealthy; it's not convincing enough for the most of us. Let's look at the moral side of the meat diet. After all, we can't ignore our own immorality. At least we shouldn't.
Most animals are mammals just like us. They have gone far up the evolutionary ladder and thus, they can feel pain and fear. They also can suffer, just as much as people can suffer. And they do. Most people don't know the conditions animals are kept in. Even less people know how they are killed. We prefer not to know. But here it is, the in-your-face truth.
Cows. Kept in cramped buildings, they stand tight side to side and snout to rump. First thing, they are branded with a scorching iron. On the face. A cow bursts in wails of pain, while other animals look and wait for their turn. To pack up more cows in the building, people then dehorn the animals. The horns are chopped off with a large pair of pliers. Of course, this is done without anaesthetics, and the animal with red holes in the head is screaming in agony. Some of the cows die on their way to slaughterhouses, because they are packed so tight during transportation, that they are literally on top of each other. At a slaughterhouse, they first receive a shot in the head by a captive bolt gun. These guns stun animals by damaging their brain, but don’t kill them. Then a butcher hangs the cow and slits his or her throat. The cow hangs until dead, while a worker is filling up a can with blood that runs from the cow’s throat and nostrils. It is not uncommon that a cow is conscious during this process. Moreover, many cows are still alive when they are fully bled and are on their way to be butchered. Hanged by one leg, with their throats and bellies slit and blood all run out, the cows are writhing from pain and trying to free themselves.
Humans do similar things to pigs. They dock pigs’ tails because of the lack of space and the stressful living conditions in the factories, where pigs can bite each other’s tails off. The tails are chopped off without anaesthetic. Ear clipping, teeth cutting, and castration follow. Forget about anaesthetics or painkillers. On their way to become your sausage, many pigs are still struggling with pain after they are slit, shackled, and dunked upside down in steaming water to be removed of hair.
Chickens don’t have an easy life either. Set apart the awful factory conditions, chickens are killed in some more of the inhumane ways that humans could think of. Chickens are either clubbed to death or have their heads cut off. They can also be dangled upside down on a conveyor belt, where a butcher slits their throats one by one. The chickens are moved along on the conveyor, still alive, until they bleed to death.
All that sadism is imposed on animals so you can eat a beef Stroganoff or a chicken potpie. Now, knowing what torments living creatures had to undergo before ending up on your plate, will you deliberately go for it? Make them suffer so you can enjoy twenty minutes of doubtful pleasure? Maybe it’s time for us, humans, to rearrange our priorities.
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)