February 19, 2008

This morning I was shocked out of my sleep by the audio track from the video taping of the treatment of cows in the slaugterhouse involved in the recall of 143 million pounds of beef. I’ve never heard anything like it. Worse than my worst nightmares. What drives a human to be able to do such things to any creature is something I hope to never imagine.

I’ve not eaten any meat in over a decade. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I eat milk-products and eggs. In the last 2 years, in large part due to going to the farmer’s market, I’ve been able to see the places I get cheese and eggs from.

We’ve met the cows we get our cheese from and the chickens where our eggs come from. We meet the people who take care of these animals every week at the farmer’s market. The animals live outside in large spaces. When they get sick they get treated by a vet. When they are too old or hurt they are humanely put down. These animals don’t ever seem to encounter anything which causes them terror or shock. They will probably never have a reason to make the sounds that the cows from the video above made. I know we’ll never get to a point where people stop eating animals but I do hope we get to a point where all animals raised as livestock lead a life which is peaceful and as natural as possible. I also hope that when they die they can die a death which is as terror-free as possible.

If you can stomach it, watch the video in the article I linked to above. After watching it if you do not think you can be party to anything that causes that kind of terror then If you eat meat think about where you get your meat from and how the animals are treated before death. Think about if you would miss meat much if you stopped eating it. If you consume eggs, milk or cheese, make sure you know from where they come and if you have the chance go and visit the farms.

Follow your food chain, make sure you know what’s happening at all the links in the chain. Make sure you’re comfortable with being involved in those links.


15 Responses to “horrorshow”

  1. Ryan Tomayko Says:

    We had this conversation over dinner tonight. The news networks seem to be picking the videos up so they’re getting a ton of exposure. I haven’t watched them yet but I’m going to force myself to at some point soon. I eat all kinds of meat (and I like it) so I’m not excited about the prospect of what I’m going to see here.

    Anyway, we had homemade crab-cakes for dinner; which, combined with the cow videos, led to a few interesting bits of conversation.

    First, we decided that, on average, our emotional response to the treatment of animals is a bit unfair and hard to tie back to first principal. Lobsters are boiled alive. Farm raised catfish are often exposed to the same types of violent / shitty life experience but none of us were all that concerned about that. Who knows what the crab we were eating went through?

    We all agreed that this kind of treatment of cows was horrible and that we all wanted to look into alternatives. We also agreed that we didn’t really give a shit about the crab all that much. No one could imagine a video of people doing something harmful to a crab that would make us stop eating them. How screwy is that?

    My Mom, who was over for dinner, was the exception. She’s been really big on a mystical “energy of the earth” for a while now. She doesn’t like consuming anything that’s been treated poorly because she thinks that there’s some kind of toxic negative energy that passes into you. So, from what I could gather, she cared that the animals were treated poorly for the animal’s sake but she was more worried about ingesting them 🙂

    At any rate, it is really pretty sad that all our technology and wealth is focused almost entirely on efficiency. You’d hope that the treatment of the animals we eat would get better as society progresses but that is clearly not what’s happened.

    Crazy. Sad. We’re going to look into the farmer’s markets around here.

  2. Seth Vidal Says:

    When I was younger I caught crabs and fish with my dad down in wilmington, NC on the intercoastal waterway. I’ve seen crabs defend themselves when people try to pick them up and I know they’re responding to fright. That’s why I’m not willing to eat them. It’s still a bit unclear if a lot of seafood is capable of experiencing pain or the anticipation of suffering at all. I don’t know if the CNS of them is evolved to that point or not. However, I’m erring on the side of caution to not eating them. I am reasonably certain that okra and tomatoes know no dread before I munch on them.

    A good site to find local resources for pretty much anything is localharvest.org.

  3. thruhike98 Says:

    I saw that footage. Pretty awful. It’s a sad commentary on the “protein industry.”
    Yes, that’s what they call themselves, as in “we are the largest producer of protein in the U.S.”

  4. What strikes me that it has to be this bad to be considered inappropriate. I wonder if any TV would ever broadcast videos from any other slaughter.

  5. Seth Vidal Says:

    I don’t think they would air them, either. I’ve seen the cows at the dairy that produces our cheese being milked. It is not a scary experience. I’m comfortable with what’s being done there. I’ve seen the eggs being gathered on the farm where our eggs come from. If the hens notice it is not obvious how.

    I’ve read parts of “Animals in Translation” By Temple Grandin and I think her work with slaughterhouses should be lauded. If you’ve not read what she’s done you should pick up a copy of her book. It is worth the read and you’ll get a much better feeling for how animals who are being slaughtered using her methods are being treated. Cattle prods are not used yelling and beating the animals is not tolerated. The slaughter procedure is much more orderly and, most importantly, quiet. I don’t think I’ll ever eat any meat in my life and I’m fine with that but I am glad people like Ms. Grandin are working to make the slaughtering process as humane as possible.

  6. Hmmm I remember a study a couple of years ago that showed that plants had electrostatic reactions when parts were ‘harvested’ from them in a similar way that animals did. The researchers felt that this might show ‘pain’ was probably a very very rudimentary reaction evolved before CNS etc. How a creature dealt with the shock of harvesting was more nuanced in CNS creatures. However, I never found any follow up stuff so it could have been faulty science or just not exciting to keep going (I remember it actually got several vegans in our class to go off on rants about how the research had to be a conspiracy of the meat industry).

    Anyway… in the end, we animals mostly have to kill something to continue to live (carrion eaters are probably the exception.. but something had to die for them still). What matters is how we do it, and how we make up for it. And I am not meaning in the great negative energy of the universe part.. I figure we are just evolved cockroaches which is why we instinctively hate our un-evolved bunch so much (reminds us of the gutter we crawled out of).

  7. The Holy ettlz Says:

    Very disturbing viewing. “What drives a human to be able to do such things to any creature is something I hope to never imagine.” It’s probably the same thing that drives them to be able to do it to other people, cf. torture (which is how I’d describe those animals’ treatment).

  8. Seth Vidal Says:

    Holy Ettlz,
    I include humans in ‘creatures’. There’s no reason to separate them, imo.

  9. Axel Thimm Says:

    I believe that everyone consuming animals should be exposed to this experience. Today’s society has abstracted dead animal parts that much away that children don’t even associate where the meat comes from.

    Am I a radical in this respect? Perhaps – but we need to make people aware what meat means.

  10. Seth Vidal Says:

    If you get a chance read the omnivore’s dilemma by Michael Pollan, he makes your case fairly well. That people should be willing/able to perform all the tasks in their food production chain. If they are not willing to do so then they shouldn’t be willing to consume the food. He believes getting us closer to our food production processes is a good thing for society at large.

  11. loupgaroublond Says:

    It’s an interesting debate whether humans are meant to eat meat. From what I understand, biologically, we eat a lot more meat than our bodies traditionally would handle.

    Hopefully not too many people will use this to push an agenda against meat entirely, but will get people to consider the humane treatment of animals. When animals are treated humanely, the quality of the food goes up, nutritionally and in taste, and the overall lifetime of the species goes up as well. Feeding them the right foods reduces the chance of Mad Cow Disease and other bad protein problems, and controlling the sources encourages a replenishable green supply of food. It makes good business sense for meat eaters too, but unfortunately many meat eaters don’t seem to value these ideas too highly.

  12. Seth Vidal Says:

    I’ve found arguing intent from design or evolution is a bad position to attack from. It’s vastly easier and productive to argue from results. The results of large scale meat consumption are pretty bad for society and the planet at large.

    From a business sense standpoint I’ve found that a lot of business owners are unwilling to make investments and calculations for results > 50 years into the future. Which is the rub.

  13. Máirín Says:

    that video is absolutely horrific.

    what i do not understand is that it takes people who are not members of the media sneaking in with hidden cameras to expose this. why is the media ignoring this which affects everyone who consumes food products from animals?

    i’ve been ovo lacto veg for almost a year and i am quite certainly glad of it now.

  14. Pekka Pouta Says:

    Hi there! I’m from Finland and I just stumbled upon this sickening site about the state of the Finnish “protein industry”. http://www.oikeuttaelaimille.net/ttnet/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=154&Itemid=174

    It’s disgusting but I think people should see the reality. After seeing those pictures I really decided to give a go at being a vegan. I’m a 27 yo lad.

    Maybe the UN should give a “declaration of the animal rights”. Something must be done to stop this madness. The animal factories must be shut down, the concentration camps dismantled. The torture must end!

  15. Seth Vidal Says:

    Look around your local area. See if there are farms that are treating their animals ethically and acceptably. You may find there are more than you might know.

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