by Serena Brown
Persuasive editorial to become a vegetarian
|My Beef with the Meat Industry|
I was watching a news story about a man who was arrested for organizing a dog fighting ring.
He had kept up to 20 dogs at a time in severely neglectful conditions and the dogs that were still alive
were dehydrated, injured and starved. It was a horrible sight and warranted the news's attention.
Although cruelty to animals is a recent issue in the grand scheme of things, Americans in general have
come to a consensus that cruelty to animals is wrong. Americans love their pets and they LOVE animals.
Of all households, 63% have at least one dog or a cat. About 75 million dogs and 85 million cats
are owned in the United States. We spend $40 billion a year on the pets we own. There is even a cable
network devoted entirely to animals and pet shows. Even though millions of animals remain in unlivable
conditions, society has become proactive in preventing animal cruelty, for animals we keep as pets.
It is because of that love and societies disdain for animal cruelty that prosecuting animal abusers has
become easier and the laws that protect them have become stricter.
Yes, we certainly love our animals we also LOVE to eat them. Americans consume 35 million cows,
115 million pigs and 9 billion birds, every year.Why is it that Americans are so solicitous when it comes
to our pets yet so indifferent to the animals we cook dinner?
The answer certainly has nothing to do with the animals themselves. Dogs
after all are said to be delicious and pigs are quite companionable. Our food choices our determined by
many factors but reason or consciousness are generally not high on the list. Yet meat is a part of our
evolution, our culture and tradition, people can not stop eating meat and many societies survive on it.
We can not stop eating meat, but to people with the choice, the reasons not to are overwhelming.
Arguments for and against eating meat are both viable. The fact is that while society has slowly
become proactive in preventing cruelty to pets we have largely ignored the abuses that occur to the
animals we eat. More than that society has ignored the irreversible pollution that the meat/poultry/pork industry is responsible for. According to the Environmental Protection Agency nearly 35,000 miles of American waterways have been contaminated by animal excrement. The issue of poop alone is reason enough for any educated average American to choose not to eat meat. "Concentrated Animal Feeding
Operations" or CAFO's produce the equivalent of an average human American city in excrement.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists for every household in America 20 tons of factory farm
manure is dumped into the environment. The only difference is that factory farm poop is untreated, left
in holding ponds to leak into waterways spanning the country. Another issue concerning the food that
ends up on our tables is antibiotics. People consume and excrete 3 million pounds of antibiotics a year.
According to the drug industry, Livestock are fed 28 million pounds of antibiotics a year. Livestock
farmers are hugely responsible for engineering new resistant strains of germs or superbugs. The Centers
for Disease Control have fought to end this indiscriminate practice but of course it continues.
Another issue is the suffering of billions of animals. Some argue that these animals have been bred to be stupid and don't experience suffering in the same way more intelligent animals do. But it seems we
know that these animals do experience great suffering in the same way that our household pets do (why
else would we spend billions on vet bills). Many of the pets we have in our homes are bred to be as
docile and stupid as the animals we eat. Most people look at meat and feel hungry. Nobody wants to think about the horrors behind the meat we eat. We should feel a responsibility to those we control, those who do not have a voice.
Some would say that these animals were opportunistic species that evolved and survived because
of their alliance with humans. For example domesticated chickens are more populous than ever unlike
their Burmese jungle fowl ancestors. The problem with eating meat is not the meat. Certainly we can raise meat without torturing it to death. The problem lies in the factory. A solution to all of this suffering is to eat grass-fed beef and organic free range chicken. Yes, it is expensive but at what cost are you willing to pro-actively support suffering, pollution and disease. Nature can be harsh and I'm sure it is no different if your skinned alive by a livestock farmer or by a lion in Africa, but to know the facts about where your food comes from would deter any reasonable person. And if we cannot change our standards for livestock at all, shouldn't we hold our household pets to the same standards. If dogs were allowed to be just dogs and interbreed without human interference we could, in theory, have a local, sustainable, low-energy meat supply (humans somewhere are doing it). The only thing Americans know about the meat they eat is that they don't want to know how it got to our plate, and we know that meat tastes good.
Even though we live in an omnivorous society some are trying to find solutions. A few farmers have
created agriculture without suffering, antibiotics and pollution. The solutions are too few, there just isn't
enough of it to effect the issue as a whole. Most of the animals subjected to suffering and pollution in
the factory farm industry aren't even the ones we eat. The Dairy Industry is fodder for a whole new
The point is the cost of the consumer society to the earth's 20 million non-human species goes way
beyond meat and dairy. Everything from fruit to paper to your computer has 'death and destruction'
written all over it. It may be too hard to go without the simplest pleasures in life. Turkey for
Thanksgiving, Ham for Christmas, these are irreplaceable pleasures to some.
We have the choice to be defined any way we wish, let us be defined not by what we choose to
consume but by what we choose not to consume.