By Vesanto Melina, MS RD
I recently received a newsletter advertising local organic food that was subject to “humane slaughtering practices”. I found that phrase disturbing; still do. It arises from a mentality or perspective that considers it alright to slaughter another group of sentient beings. Yet the people arranging or financially supporting the slaughter are aware that the victims do not choose to be slaughtered and are capable of suffering. Another phrase used by meat advertisers to describe the killing of farm animals is “respectfully harvested”.
I have seen that phrase used in situations of genocide, where some prefer the genocide to be done with the minimum of fear or pain during the killing process. It is used in relation to pigs, though these animals are capable of using computer joysticks, outdoing chimpanzees, and are at least as intelligent as dogs. (In an experiment at Penn State University, the dog hadn’t developed equal capability after a year.) Pigs have been known to save children’s lives.
Enjoy a 6 minute video by Wendy Webster. Click Pigs Playing Video Games! – Pigs More Intelligent Than Dogs, Farm Animals and Us
Farm animals are treated in ways that those regarding themselves as animal lovers would never dream of treating their pets. Male calves, destined to become veal, endure brief lifetimes of solitary confinement in tiny areas, so that their muscles do not toughen before slaughter. See an article, click CALF IN A BOX: INDIVIDUAL CONFINEMENT HOUSING USED IN VEAL PRODUCTION
Chickens can learn by watching television programs to determine which bowls will deliver food. Yet they are denied opportunities for normal behaviours, such as pecking in the dirt or raising their young. Overcrowding occurs to a degree that they are unable to raise their wings; some go mad and peck their cage mates to death. “Free run” chickens are housed in barns (not outdoors). “Free range” chickens have at least some access to the outdoors. Even these labels are not regulated or verified by third party inspectors, so actual conditions can vary. For eggs to be certified organic, the chickens must have at least 16 inches by 16 inches of living space. Organic or not, after the egg-layer is “spent” she is strung up by her feet and sent down the line. Back in the days when one could go into a slaughterhouse and observe conditions, I was told by a Vancouver worker that “organic” chickens went down the same line and fell into what this worker described as a fecal soup. Click to read an EarthSave article here: What about Chicken?
One might ask for better conditions for animals during their lives, transport, or time of slaughter; various organizations are doing so. (A Canadian examples is Canadians for Ethical Treatment of Food Animals ). But why not go one step further? We have no need to eat these animals. We know that red meat is linked to increased risk of colon cancer and other cancers; that chicken is a major source of pathogenic bacteria and other unwelcome components, that animals about to be butchered are frightened and often undergo prolonged suffering. When we buy meat we financially support slaughter.
None of this would happen if people did not buy the products. Tasty as animal products can be, there are now excellent meat alternatives (try Gardein’s Golden Fishless Fillets, and Szechuan Beefless Strips). Explore natural foods markets for many new products. Whole plant foods are superbly healthy; we get abundant protein from legumes, grains, and vegetables. Check out vegetarian, vegan, raw, and veg-friendly restaurants at HappyCow and VegDining websites and and explore meetups (click Meetup, then type in “vegan”). Explore Vegfest Vancouver and similar events in your location. Delicious food and compassion can go hand in hand!
Vesanto’s Becoming Vegan: Express Edition, with Brenda Davis, is winner of the 2014 Canada Book Award; is finalist with honorable mention for IndieFab’s book of the year, and is given start rating by the American Library Association as “the go-to book” on vegan nutrition. The very new Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition (2014) is heralded as the new classic for health professionals.
For absolutely delicious, as well as healthy and easy recipes, see Cooking Vegan with chef Joseph Forest, book Publishing Co, (in Canada, Cooking Vegetarian, Harper Collins. Websites: www.nutrispeak.com and www.becomingvegan.ca.