Development officer Megan McGrath responds to Daniel Cross' rebuttal of her article on slaughterhouse protests.
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Development officer Megan McGrath responds to Daniel Cross’s rebuttal of her article on slaughterhouse protests.

I am extremely grateful to get the chance to reply to the recent article written by Daniel Cross responding to my article on veganism and the Save Movement.

Talking so publicly and matter-of-factly about a subject you clearly have not researched at all takes bravery, and for that I can do nothing else but commend you.

Daniel was apparently perplexed by the idea that animals slaughtered and abused for the unnecessary consumption of their products are victims.

Let me initially define the word ‘victim’ for his apparent lack of understanding: “something harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action”.

Daniel stated that pleasure plays no part in the consumption of animal products.

The industry indisputably breeds animals for the sole purpose of profiting from the retailing of their body parts or excretions. Their lives consist of suffering in the dire conditions standard in intensive factory farming, only to be brutally killed many years before their natural lifespan ends. If they are female, their reproductive systems are likely abused until their breast milk or ovum production rate declines and they are slaughtered.

I pose this question: are dogs bred and killed for dog fighting still victims? What about the dogs bred for meat in China? If your answer is yes, then the opposition to my reference of so called “livestock” as victims is due to cultural norms rather than a consistent moral standpoint.

Daniel stated that pleasure plays no part in the consumption of animal products. If people do not eat meat, eggs or dairy for their own selfish pleasure, then why do people eat them? We have no biological need to consume any part of or anything from an animal; all of the essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids can be provided from a varied plant-based diet. To answer the extremely frequent question of where my protein comes from, it’s where your protein gets its protein from.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions.

I do not ever intend to vilify farmers, but Daniel’s portrayal of them is utterly skewed. It is farmers who separate day-old calves from their mothers so they do not drink the milk she makes for them so humans can have it on their cereal instead. It is farmers that sell male calves into the veal industry or kill them as they are ‘waste’ due to not making milk like their mother. It is these farmers that will forcibly impregnate females of the species as often as is possible, using them as nothing more than breeding machines.

Daniel discusses the use of the term humane, which as I previously explored, is nothing but a comfort tool for the consumers. If Daniel is so certain that the method is painless and kind; I am keen to discover if he’d be happy to let a loved pet die this way.

I find the justification for animal agriculture – “it’s been happening for generations” – absurd. If we take even a very brief look into our country’s history, it is rapidly evident that law and morality have not always been compliant. Homosexuality being an illegal offence, women not being entitled to a parliamentary vote and the legality of human slavery are three quick, conclusive reminders why an outlook like this is nothing but regressive and ill advised.

If Daniel is so certain that the method is painless and kind; I am keen to discover if he’d be happy to let a loved pet die this way.

I particularly enjoyed the irony of Daniel’s statement: “select few cases… 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”. Daniel’s argument of the farms local to him apparently treating their animals well (it’s unclear what he defines ‘well’ as) and deducing that no animal killed for animal agriculture therefore suffers is exactly that.

If my hometown’s homeless population is not a great issue, does that then allow me to state that the issue is therefore obsolete nationwide? Of course it does not, but this baffling logic is what Daniel uses in his rebuttal. In fact, a slaughter house about 40 minutes from Sheffield was recently investigated for multiple cases of misconduct and workers purposefully abusing the animals whilst laughing. Many local stories such as these are easily found in a quick Google search.

I quote him here: “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”. This sentence both made me laugh and fill with despair. If he had taken the few seconds to Google this fact, the first results would confirm my statement. As he has evidently spent time looking at my various social media accounts from his rebuttal, I would have thought fact-checking would have also been part of his preparation.

All living animals have an innate will to live as well as the ability to feel pain and fear.

Daniel concentrated on the human cost of the loss of apparent skill of farming. Let me now place his concern into perspective. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, with its total output exceeding those of all methods of transport combined.* The real human cost surrounding animal agriculture are the thousands of people that are losing their homes to natural disasters, losing their families to malnutrition after droughts; all whilst humans in the west unnecessarily feed tons of grain to animals to eat. I personally find these costs to be far more pertinent than a farmer’s child opting for a profession other than agriculture.

Daniel, I too once thought that the animals, and their products, that I ate for 19 years had not experienced cruelty and did not suffer during death. But when you consider that all living animals have an innate will to live as well as the ability to feel pain and fear – which are unarguably a significant elements of the slaughter process – logic rules that taking away something’s life that wants to live can never be moral.

I notice no response was given to my offer of joining me on an animal save. If you are so sure that the animals are not suffering, please do join me one day and try to prove me wrong. Look into the eyes of an animal frothing at the mouth from prolonged dehydration (completely legal, by the way) and then watch them be beaten into a holding pen whilst they listen to the sounds of others screaming in pain during their death.

*This statement has been made in accordance with a 2009 World Watch study which claims that 51% of the world’s gas emissions are livestock-related. The study has not been peer-reviewed.

Comment pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the views of Forge Press.

Image credit: Gunnar Richter.

  • James Dunstan

    Solid points, but a bit patronising.