“Yet on some level we do know the truth. We know that meat production is a messy business, but we choose not to know just how messy it is. We know that meat comes from an animal, but we choose not to connect the dots. And often, we eat animals and choose not to know we're even making a choice. Violent ideologies are structured so that it is not only possible, but inevitable, that we are aware of an unpleasant truth on one level while being oblivious to it on another. Common to all violent ideologies is this phenomenon of knowing without knowing.

Melanie Joy in “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows:
An Introduction to Carnism, 2010

 

The average British meat-eater consumes around 1,200 animals (excluding fish and other aquatic animals) in his or her lifetime, including 1 goose, 1 rabbit, 4 cattle, 18 pigs, 23 sheep and lambs, 28 ducks, 39 turkeys and 1,158 chickens. Every single consumer of meat is contributing directly to the suffering experienced by these animals in their short lives and during slaughter.

To meet the demand for meat and other animal products, livestock has to be increasingly intensively farmed. Today, a very large percentage of animals destined for the table in the UK spend their short lives in factory farms and on top, the UK imports huge amounts of meat from countries with much lower production and welfare standards. And anyone who thinks they can buy themselves a good conscience by choosing organic meat should realise that the organic livestock industry is in many cases not much different from the conventional livestock industry and that many organic meat farms today are run as large-scale operations. There is no such thing as “ethical meat”, “humane meat” or “happy meat”. These macabre, oxymoronic labels cannot hide the simple truth that no animal bred to be killed for food has ever been stroked to death. It takes an act of extreme violence to turn a living, sentient creature into a piece of meat – an act that raises the fundamental questions of how we can, firstly, assume the right to kill for human consumption sentient beings with a capacity for suffering (or have them killed on our behalf), and secondly, morally justify this – and to do so even though it is wholly unnecessary and entails such serious negative consequences.
And when we talk about suffering and violence, we should never forget that the production of animal products such as dairy and eggs is no less cruel than the production of meat. “Milk cows” are kept in a near-permanent state of pregnancy to keep their milk production going because – just like female human animals – they only give milk when they have offspring to feed. Their calves are then taken away from them right after birth so that their mother’s milk can be consumed by humans. The male calves are of no use to dairy farming so they are either slaughtered immediately or fattened up and then slaughtered and their flesh is sold as veal. Their sisters suffer the same fate as their mothers and, just like them, end up in the slaughterhouse as soon as their bodies are spent and can no longer produce enough milk. Chickens are sexed (separated by gender) after hatching and the brothers of “laying hens” are either gassed or shredded right away because they are of no use to the industry. The hens themselves are turned into egg-producing machines just like their mothers and sent to slaughter as soon as it is no longer profitable to keep them alive. Most of these and other animals who are seen as mere livestock live under horrendous conditions right up to the day when they are killed to be eaten by humans. Often, they see the sunlight for the first and only time when they get herded into trucks for the journey to the slaughterhouse.

The truth is that these animals do not give us their flesh, their skin, their wool, their mother’s milk, their eggs and so on voluntarily – we breed and keep them so that we can take from them whatever we want.

Farmed animals are slaughtered at a mere fraction of their natural lifespan

Small children have no concept of, and are not in a position to reflect upon, the consequences of their actions. They are entirely at the mercy of their parents’ decisions for or against a particular diet. It is up to us to make these decisions, to be answerable for them and to be able to justify them to our children as they grow up and start to ask questions and demand answers.

 

 

And finally, the Summary