Allow me, Daniel Cross, to paraphrase a recent article written in Forge Press by Megan McGrath and start mine in a similar fashion.
Upon first reading it I was initially dubious about what had been written. As someone who has grown up with an agricultural background the comments struck a loss with me across the board. So I’m here to offer an alternative side to the story, rebut some of the points she made and hopefully demonstrate that the meat industry and animal farming in general is not as abhorrent as has been made out.
The article suggested that animals are victims of industry and as a result are being harmed for pleasure. I struggle to understand who Megan thinks is doing this – I can tell you for a fact that it is not the farmers who raise them. They are people who at times put aside their own lives and families to ensure their animals are put first; who get up every morning at dawn to make sure they are fed; and who know that the profitability is not brilliant but farm anyway because their families have been doing it for generations.
Ask any farmer and they will laugh all the way home at the suggestion they would harm their animals – and be gone well before you could suggest it is for pleasure. They get their pleasure out of the art of farming, dedicating their lives to something that keeps skills alive and allows millions across the country to be able to eat – a luxury that some countries can only dream of. To suggest the industry is merely there to harm animals “for pleasure” is quite ludicrous.
Any farmer will laugh all the way home at the suggestion they would harm their animals.
The Save Movement asks truck drivers to spare a few minutes to record the animals. They have schedules to keep to and late deliveries are bad for the company and could risk them losing their jobs. Of course they’re not going to hang around for people to record the animals because why would they? Their job is more important to them than letting activists record audio of the animals in their trucks.
In the article, Megan claims to bond with the animals before they enter the abattoir but she also says that “their only experiences of humans” are negative. So why does she assume they feel any differently about her? If they think all humans mean negativity then surely running up to them and shoving cameras in their faces only worsens their mood.
Of course, this country’s eating habits would be different if people had to kill animals with their own hands, but we don’t all have time to go to abattoirs and pick out the cow we’d like for tea. The animals’ deaths are quick and painless. I have friends whose families raise these animals and can tell you in absolute certainty that they are given the highest levels of attention and care during their lives because they are put above everything else.
In response to your comments regarding the use of CO2 as part of the slaughter process, a study by the University of Copenhagen has concluded that it is a “humane way” of anaesthetising the animals. The Humane Slaughter Association, who promote the humane treatment of all animals used for food, even go as far as saying that it may have “some welfare advantages”. Furthermore, to suggest that pigs have the same general intellect as chimps and dogs is about as ridiculous as finding meat from BoJack Horseman in a Tesco lasagne.
It’s not rocket science to work out that Megan is against the killing of animals, but what I’ll say is this: in order to have zero animal killings you would have to change the eating habits of billions of people across the world. Whilst being entirely possible it’s also horrendously difficult to achieve.
The majority of animals are killed quickly and painlessly.
Yet rearing no livestock at all is not the answer. The skill and work farmers put into their animals is exemplary and benefits a whole range of things. The faeces you talked so negatively about – excellent, natural fertiliser for plants which reduces the need to produce hazardous, expensive artificial fertiliser products which arguably do more damage to the environment. That’s just one example but there are many more out there.
The majority of animals are killed quickly and painlessly – yes it’s a somewhat traumatic experience for them immediately beforehand but the overwhelming majority lead excellent lives being reared outdoors in superb facilities. The meat farming and slaughter business is not as completely repellent as you made out but there will always be the select few cases that slip through the stringent legal and humane regulations. These shouldn’t be blown out of proportion and made to represent an entire industry or be used in conjunction with misleading claims and information to support your argument.
Yes, they slaughter animals – but it is the most humane and respectful way in which to do it where most animals don’t suffer and has been backed up by scientific research. This works alongside the farmers who have spent generations perfecting the art of rearing and keeping animals – something that people should bear in mind when you slaughter the industry that helps keep the majority of the population alive.
This article is in response to one published in Forge Press’ 107th issue, which can be read online here: The hills are alive with the sound of slaughter
Comment pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the views of Forge Press.
Image credit: Cally Lawson