Why Veg: Compassion Toward Animals

To paraphrase Paul McCartney, "if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian." Indeed, the modern factory farm is a house of horrors. Chickens are killed by the billions for wings, breasts, and nuggets. Pigs are boiled and skinned while still conscious for bacon and ham. Egg-laying hens are crammed six or seven to a cage about the size of a small duffle bag. Dairy cows are strapped to a "rape rack" in order to artificially inseminate them for continued pregnancy and lactation. Read on to find out more about choosing vegetarianism for animals.

Other Reasons to Choose Veg

Saving the Animals, One Bite at a Time

[from COK's Vegetarian Starter Guide]

The animals we eat are individuals who experience pleasure, fear, and pain. Think about the dogs or cats or other animals you may have lived with. The animals we don’t know very well, like chickens, cows or pigs, are just as capable of experiencing sorrow, terror, joy, and other emotions as are those animals we do know. All of them, whether chicken or cat, pig or poodle, experience a wide range of emotions and value their lives. Yet, the animals who we eat in this country are treated so abusively that similar treatment of dogs or cats would be grounds for animal cruelty charges in all 50 states.

In the United States alone, more than 10 billion land animals (and billions more aquatic animals) are slaughtered for food every year—more than 1 million birds, pigs, cows, and other animals every hour. The overwhelming majority of them are kept on factory farms, where the goal is to raise as many animals as possible in the least amount of time and space.

The Free-Range Myth

Many of us may think of “free-range” farms as idyllic places where pigs relax in mud baths, chickens strut about, and cows graze leisurely in lush, green pastures while their calves romp playfully. We couldn’t be more wrong. There are few government regulations or industry standards to monitor this profitable myth, so inhumane conditions and mistreatment of the animals are common. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “free-range” and “free-roaming” only for labeling purposes and has no inspection system in place to verify that those farms claiming to be “free-range” actually are.

As with factory-farmed animals, “free-range” animals can be subjected to the same physical mutilations without painkillers and are still sent to the same slaughterhouses as their factory-farmed relatives at a young age when their “productivity” wanes.

Dr. Charles Olentine, industry trade journal Egg Industry editor, put it best in the October 2002 issue: "Just because it says free-range does not mean that it is welfare-friendly."

Choosing Compassion Over Killing

The more we learn about cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and, in fact, all of the animals we confine and kill for food, the more we realize they are not that different from us. Certainly, they are no less worthy of our concern than the cats and dogs we live with and give our affection.

Most importantly, these “food” animals feel pain just as much and just as intensely as do dogs and cats. Sadly though, they are treated horrifically by the industries that turn them into nuggets, filets, or hot dogs. When we eat meat, eggs, and dairy, we are responsible for animal abuse. In order for us to have their flesh, milk, and eggs, farmed animals are denied nearly everything that is natural to them and are almost always abused in ways that would revolt us were we forced to participate. Each one of us has a choice: Do we want to support cruelty, or do we want to support kindness and compassion?

What is exciting is that each one of us has the ability to say no to animal cruelty every time we eat. The next time you sit down to a meal, please choose to eat compassionately. Please choose the vegetarian option.