As chickenswho run wildly about, and the pink
As children, one of the first things we learn is to recognize the friendly barnyardanimals.
We easily can spot the furry cow with the gentle eyes, the feathery chickenswho run wildly about, and the pink pigs that roll in the mud. We may also sing about thatnice farmer, Old McDonald, and all of his nice animals. The truth is that Old McDonaldwith a straw hat has been replaced by a business man in the hard hat.Ninety-five percent of the meat we eat does not come from Old McDonald’s farm.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 farmingmethod finds blue skies, tall silos, and grassy hillsides good for calendars but, bad forbusiness. Those pictures are not cost effective. Animals are not treated with the lovingcare 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 thelight of day until they head to the slaughter house. Hens are frequently crowded intosmall cages which they may not leave for a year or two. Pregnant sows are often put installs that are their homes for three months at a time.
After having her piglets, a sow maybe pinned to the floor for four to seven weeks in order to keep the sow from rolling overon her babies. Cows may be fed steady diet of molasses laced saw dust, shreddednewspaper, plastic pellets, poultry manure, and processed slaughter house wastes in orderto gain weight faster. Confinement is so complete that the animals do not have room tomove (206).
Not only are the animals forced to live in this unnatural environment, they arealso pumped full off antibiotics, hormones, steroids, and are dipped in pesticides. Overhalf the cattle and nearly all pigs, calves, and poultry are fed a steady diet of antibioticsand related Jarboe 2medications 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 truckerhauling livestock can legally drive two to three days nonstop leaving the creatureswithout food or water.
Truckers who do stop to rest or water their cargo do so becausethey choose to, not because the law requires it . It is not surprising that much livestock isdriven through days of suffocating heat and below zero nights uncared for, crowded, andsometimes literally frightened to death. Some of the animals arriving alive at theslaughter house have broken limbs or other injuries due to crowding and piling. At thejourney’s end the cattle are already confused and frightened at their treatment and strangesurroundings. Now they must be sent through such procedures such as castration,dehorning, branding, and injections and various chemicals (Null, 86-87).The four slaughtering methods the government has declared humane are captivebolt, carbon dioxide, electrical stunning, and gunshot. The methods were devised fromthe Humane Slaughter Act of 1958.
The Act says that all livestock must be unconsciencebefore slaughtering. Unfortunately, the act has not provisions for punishment of thosewho choose to use an inhumane slaughtering technique (Sussman, 223).Captive bolt gun, which is usually used on cattle, uses compressed air or blankcartridges.The device fires a thick bolt into the animals’ forehead. Some bolts aredesigned to stun the animal by concussion rather than penetration of the skull.
Carbon dioxide is used on swine and sometimes sheep and calves. The animalsride on a conveyor belt into a pit filled with 65-75% concentration on carbon dioxide. The gas causes the animals to become unconscience.The electric stunner is handled by a packing house worker on any kind of animal. The stunners are shoved against the animal, shocking it into insensibility. If not handledcorrectly, the electical stunner can cause temporary paralyzation. Jarboe 3The gunshot method is preferred among small operations and most farmers.
A.22 or .38 caliber bullet is shot into the animals brain. Unfortunately, if the animalmoves it’s head at the wrong time, the bullet can miss the desired spot causing the animalto bleed in agony until another bullet is fired (224-226).Chickens continue to be treated like dumb birds.
In large poultry packing houses,birds are attached by their feet to a moving belt or chain. Conscience birds are movedalong upside down to a motorized revolving blade that slices their neck just short ofdecapitation. Some operations force a knife blade into the birds mouth, piercing the baseof the skull, and causing a fatal hemorrhage (Null, 136).Foodborne illnesses are the most common non-fatal diseases in the United Statesaccording to the U.S.
Public Health Service. Food poisoning, with symptoms like thoseof the 24 hour flu, often goes unreported or undetected. Although not that harmful to ahealthy adult, a mild case of food poisoning can be fatal for an elderly person, a baby, orsomeone who is already ill (245).Bacteria are easily transferred from raw meat to other foods. Unwashed utensils,cutting surfaces, sloppy meat markets, and restaurants may spread salmonella and otherfood poisonings. People who eat raw meat may also ingest beef tape worms.
When barbecuing, the drops of fat dripping off of the juicy steak onto the burningcharcoal and become superheated causing the fat’s chemical properties to change to theform of a carcinogen. A grilled steak coated with greasy smoke can contain as muchcarcinogens as thirty packs of cigarettes (232).Dr. Michael Jacobson, the co-director of the Center for Science in the PublicInterest, calls bacon “the most dangerous food in the supermarket.” Bacon, sausage, andlunch meat contain sodium nitrate which, when hitting the human gut, form nitrosamines,the deadliest family of carcinogens (234).
Jarboe 4If a group of health educators, home economists, and average individuals wereasked the question, “What is the most important nutrient to a person’s diet?” most of theresponses would be “protein.” Most people associate protein with meat cheese, milk, andeggs. Due to a person’s need for protein, the USDA says that the average Americanannually consumes 93 pounds of beef, 57 pounds of pork, 45 pounds of chicken, ninepounds of turkey, and 12 pounds of seafood. Dr. Mervyn Hardinge, a medical physicianwith degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities, says that the animals you are eatingdid not get their protein from eating other animals.
If we think about it logically, theanimals received their protein from the green or leave portions of the plant. Therefore,we should also get our protein by eating vegetables. The essential amino acids that makeprotein complete can only be received through plants (Sussman, 12).Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Desk Dictionary defines “healthy” as having goodhealth and having characteristics of a sound condition (296). Some people consider”healthy” to mean eating right and being at a “correct” weight. With planning to meet therequirements for calcium, iron, and B12, a vegetarian diet can be perfectly healthy andwill reduce obesity and cholesterol.
The use of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit willcover the recommended daily allowance for the nutrients found in meat without theheavy cholesterol count. Vegetarians take in fewer calories and fat and more complexcarbohydrates and fiber (Interview,Kevin Vance). Although calcium and riboflavin tendto be lower, the vegetarian diet is closer to the diet recommended by the U.S.
Departmentof Agriculture than the average American diet which consists of Big Macs, chickennuggets, and Oscar Meyer wieners.Vegetarian diets depend heavily on four groups of plant foods; grains and cereals,legumes (including beans and peas), fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. Includingsomething from each of these four “vegetarian” food groups at every meal guaranteesmaximum nutrition (Interview,Kevin Vance). Jarboe 5Besides the nutritional benefits of the vegetarian diet, the human body isnot suited for meat. For example, our teeth structures are those of herbivorous, or planteating, animals. Although our bodies are designed to rely on vegetarian foods, modernman has changed his dietary habits to those of the carnivore, or meat eater.
We maythink of ourselves as carnivores but, our flat teeth are not designed to tear through hide,flesh, and bones. Tenderizer is put on meat so that it will be more easily chewed. Furthermore, the digestive system of the carnivore is designed to get rid of the meat iteats before it decays. The human digestive system is designed to break down complexcarbohydrates and fibers like those of the herbivore (Sussman, 300).
Taking a look past the cruel treatment of animals and the nutritional value of thevegetarian diet, maybe God did not intend for us to eat meat at all. In Genesis 1:29-30God said: I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be your for food.
And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every plant for food. And it was so.