I’ve already written a post on veganism but I wanted to write something more specific about my passion and where I stand with animal rights and liberation. This post will involve writing about different myths relating to animal cruelty and then explaining the truth behind them.
I’ll start with… The Meat Industry
- The Myth
Animals used for meat are killed ‘humanely’
- The Truth
If you haven’t done your research, you are probably under the false assumption that cattle, pigs and sheep don’t ‘feel’ anything when they are slaughtered. This is far from the truth. Before being killed, the animals are stunned which essentially just puts them into shock, they are very much alive and conscious when their throats are slit and, eventually, hung from a rail, they bleed to death. The entire process is incredibly disturbing, frightening and painful for the animal.
Not only is this the case, but since CCTV cameras were installed in slaughterhouses something much worse has come to light. Animal Aid writes:
“We found evidence of cruelty and lawbreaking in eight of them. The problems are serious and widespread. Our films revealed animals being kicked, slapped, stamped on, and picked up by fleeces and ears and thrown into stunning pens… We filmed animals deliberately and illegally beaten and pigs burned with cigarettes.”
Further, before they are even slaughtered, many animals have to be exported to the place they will be killed, enduring a long, gruelling and torturous journey merely to meet their deaths. A lot of the time, animals die during the journey; squashed in on top of one another with no water and barely any room to breathe.
Compassion in World Farming highlights some of the tragedies of live exports:
- Overcrowding – Animals are crammed into vehicles. Many are injured or trampled to death.
- Exhaustion and dehydration – They can be in transit for days, suffering extremes of temperature and often without sufficient food, water or rest. Many die as a result.
- Animals’ immune systems are often reduced as a result of the hardship of long distance transport, resulting in diseases being caught more easily.
- Legal Protection – When animals are exported from Europe to countries outside the EU they leave behind them all the legal protection they once received. This means they can face terrible abuse during transport and at the time of slaughter.
- The Myth
Animal are not conscious beings like us
- The Truth
Just because animals don’t talk and walk in the same ways that we do; just because they don’t look the same does not mean they are not sentient beings. The dictionary definition of sentient is: ‘Having sense perception; conscious: Experiencing sensation or feeling.’
Despite the myth, animals feel pain, experience fear and feel love for their young. A lot of people use the myth as an excuse to eat meat, believing that because they are not conscious then they cannot experience pain in the same way that we do. This is simply not true. Animal Aid has published videos from many slaughterhouses, caught on CCTV on the internet. Take a look, see the look on their faces as they are about to meet their deaths. Look on Google images and see a cow bonds with her calf. The evidence is all there, all we have to do is choose to admit it to ourselves.
- The Myth
Being a vegetarian is enough: There’s nothing wrong with the dairy and egg industry
- The Truth
I have been a vegetarian since I was very young but I didn’t turn vegan until I was 20. I had no idea there was anything cruel about drinking milk and eating eggs. Then I watched a film called Earthlings which completely opened my eyes and exposed the terrible cruelty that goes on; equally as bad as what happens in the meat industry.
Let’s talk about caged eggs and then move on to (allegedly) ‘ethical’ eggs.
Caged hens are kept in battery farms. They are called ‘caged’ because they are stuffed, five at a time, into tiny cramped cages which are piled on top of one another in a large warehouse. In their natural environment, chickens spend their days eating grain and scratching the earth, they also spread their wings. None of this is possible in the cages. The space the hens are crammed into is around the size of an A4 sheet of paper, which is hard to imagine, even for me. Animal Aid writes:
“Hens are frequently cannibalised or crushed to death by their cage-mates. The decaying corpses of dead birds are not always removed as farm workers do not see them lying at the back of the cage. The top and bottom rows of cages, potentially housing thousands of birds, are particularly difficult to view simply because they are not at eye level…”
Let’s now talk about ‘ethical’ eggs.
I often see boxes labelled ‘barn’ eggs depicting hens roaming around a large green field. I’m not sure how the companies get away with it because the pictures are nothing like the conditions the birds are kept under.
Instead, the hens are still in a confined environment, able to stretch their wings this time but still kept under putrid conditions. They are still unable to exercise or exhibit natural behaviour. These hens will never see daylight.
As for ‘free range’ eggs, I’m afraid to say no happy hens exist here either. ‘Free range’ hens are still- for the majority of the time- kept in barns. On the larger scale barns, up to 16,000 hens can still be housed there meaning that they are still cramped together. Animal Aid writes:
“Some barns, for example, only have doors down one side – imagine the scrum trying to get through the holes to the outside; the hens at the back of the barn are unlikely ever to be able to pick their way through… Free range hens are frequently debeaked [so that they can’t peck each other to death] and, as with all commercial laying hens, they are usually slaughtered after one year of egg production.”
Let’s move onto the dairy industry.
Most people think that cows produce milk naturally, all the time and they are therefore willing to give their milk; in fact, most people think that we are doing them a favour by taking their milk. Unfortunately not. In actual fact, so that they produce enough milk for us to utilize, they are consistently forced into pregnancy, only for their young to be torn away from them at birth.
Of course, male calves are useless to the dairy industry and so they are taken from their mothers, just a day old and raised for veal. Veal calves are kept in tiny crates, in complete darkness so they are ‘tender’ as meat and slaughtered when they are just 4 months old.
Although- in a natural environment- cows live up to 25 years of age, their life span in the dairy industry only ever reaches up to 6 years before they then, too are taken to be slaughtered as they are too old and tired to produce any more milk, no less cruel and torturous than in the meat industry.
- The Myth
We need to test on animals, it’s the only way.
- The Truth
Again, if you haven’t done your research you might still be under the false impression that testing on animals is done ‘humanely.’ In truth, there is nothing humane about any form of animal testing and experiments.
Animals kept in laboratories, just like in other industries, are kept in confinement. They live in their cages all hours of the day apart from when they are taken out to be tortured. In the words of Peta they endure ‘…deprivation, isolation, and misery.’
Lab animals can be: ‘burned, shocked, poisoned, isolated, starved, drowned, addicted to drugs, and brain-damaged… pain-killers are not required. Even when alternatives to the use of animals are available, the law does not require that they be used—and often they aren’t.’ (Peta)
Animals used in laboratories include: Monkeys (non-human primates), dogs, cats, mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, farm animals, birds, mini-pigs and many more different species.
Worldwide, the number of animals used each year for product testing is 115 million.
Animal testing is often completely inaccurate and there have been many fatalities in people as a result; using products that have been tested on animals when they are not suitable for humans.
So, what’s the alternative?
For a start, new technology as an alternative to animal testing has already evolved, and it’s already advancing. Humane Society International writes:
“The sequencing of the human genome and birth of functional genomics, the explosive growth of computer power and computational biology, and high-speed robot automation of cell-based (in vitro) screening systems, to name a few, has sparked a quiet revolution in biology. Together, these innovations have produced new tools and ways of thinking that can help uncover exactly how chemicals and drugs disrupt normal processes in the human body at the level of cells and molecules. From there, scientists can use computers to interpret and integrate this information with data from human and population-level studies. The resulting predictions regarding human safety and risk are potentially more relevant to people in the real world than animal tests.”
Testing on animals- for any product- be it makeup or medication, is no longer necessary; they no longer need to endure pain at our hand. The only thing stopping scientists is that this new technology is more expensive than using animals, but should be really be putting money matters above the welfare of innocent, voiceless animals?