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Vegetarianism - to Meat or Not to Meat

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As children, one of the first things we learn is to recognize the

friendly barnyard

animals. We easily can spot the furry cow with the gentle eyes, the

feathery chickens

who run wildly about, and the pink pigs that roll in the mud. We may

also sing about that

nice farmer, Old McDonald, and all of his nice animals. The truth is

that Old McDonald

with a straw hat has been replaced by a business man in the hard hat.

Ninety-five percent of the meat we eat does not come from Old

McDonald's farm.

Hens, chickens, turkeys, and over half of beef cattle, dairy cows, and

pigs come from an

"animal factory" (Sussman, 95) which is a mechanized environment. This

new farming

method finds blue skies, tall silos, and grassy hillsides good for

calendars but, bad for

business. Those pictures are not cost effective. Animals are not

treated with the loving

care of a farmer but, are treated like inmates on death row.

Poultry, pigs, and calves are forced to live in total confinement

never to see the

light of day until they head to the slaughter house. Hens are frequently

crowded into

small cages which they may not leave for a year or two. Pregnant sows

are often put in

stalls that are their homes for three months at a time. After having her

piglets, a sow may

be pinned to the floor for four to seven weeks in order to keep the sow

from rolling over

on her babies. Cows may be fed steady diet of molasses laced saw dust,


newspaper, plastic pellets, poultry manure, and processed slaughter house

wastes in order

to gain weight faster. Confinement is so complete that the animals do

not have room to

move (206).

Not only are the animals forced to live in this unnatural

environment, they are

also pumped full off antibiotics, hormones, steroids, and are dipped in

pesticides. Over

half the cattle and nearly all pigs, calves, and poultry are fed a steady

diet of antibiotics

and related

Jarboe 2

medications to help control diseases. No one is sure what the long term

side effects may

be for people who consume these meat and dairy products (145).

Have you ever seen a big rig driving down a highway hauling

cattle? A trucker

hauling livestock can legally drive two to three days nonstop leaving the


without food or water. Truckers who do stop to rest or water their cargo

do so because

they choose to, not because the law requires it . It is not surprising

that much livestock is

driven through days of suffocating heat and below zero nights uncared

for, crowded, and

sometimes literally frightened to death. Some of the animals arriving

alive at the

slaughter house have broken limbs or other injuries due to crowding and

piling. At the

journey's end the cattle are already confused and frightened at their

treatment and strange

surroundings. Now they must be sent through such procedures such as


dehorning, branding, and injections and various chemicals (Null, 86-87).

The four slaughtering methods the government has declared humane

are captive

bolt, carbon dioxide, electrical stunning, and gunshot. The methods were

devised from

the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958. The Act says that all livestock must

be unconscience

before slaughtering. Unfortunately, the act has not provisions for

punishment of those

who choose to use an inhumane slaughtering technique (Sussman, 223).

Captive bolt gun, which is usually used on cattle, uses

compressed air or blank

cartridges. The device fires a thick bolt into the animals' forehead.

Some bolts are

designed to stun the animal by concussion rather than penetration of the


Carbon dioxide is used on swine and sometimes sheep and calves.

The animals

ride on a conveyor belt into a pit filled



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