Why Animals Matter

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I do not need to watch a video of cows being beaten with fists, feet and crow bars to know that horror exists within non-animal humans. Nor do I need a PhD in animal rights to know that the ongoing abuse and cruelty of factory farm animals is morally wrong.  (See ‘Slaughterhouse’ by Eisnitz or Animal Factories by Mason and Singer). Suffering, pain and evil exists in this world, the question is how much of this are you willing to tolerate for your food?

We were recently alerted to the horrendous (but not rare) abuse at Chilliwack Cattle Sales (CCS) farm in B.C.  (see story and video here: Farm Abuse)

Fallen cows get tangled in a rotating milking system at Chilliwack Cattle Sales in a video released on Monday June 9, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, SPCA ORG XMIT: CPW1311

Fallen cows get tangled in a rotating milking system at Chilliwack Cattle Sales in a video released on Monday June 9, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, SPCA ORG XMIT: CPW1311

The public was rightly outraged and comment boards across all newspapers lit up with statements such as “Who will speak for the animals?…”

Then outrage turned to relief when we heard that Saputo, (Canada’s largest milk processor) refused to continue buying dairy from Chilliwack farms and all eight employees caught on video were fired. Fast forward less than two weeks later, and milk pick up at Chilliwack was resumed after an initial boycott that lasted only a week.

The B.C. Milk Marketing Board stated that “rigorous monitoring and testing measures” are now in place to prevent future tragedies like Chilliwack. But six decades of unimaginable animal abuse at that farm are not easily changed within a week of improved ‘monitoring and testing’.

Abuse like this does not occur spontaneously. It is systemic and condoned, –a deeply engrained part of the ideology that animals have no vital interests (namely, a life).

Please know that trying to locate humanely raised and slaughtered animals is a futile odyssey. Do not forget that in the end, they are still being slaughtered, against their will, and for our very own non-essential needs. But meat tastes good, my carnivore friends say, ‘oh, I couldn’t live without cheese…”……”what will I put in my coffee?”…….. or my personal favorite, “where will I get my protein?”. 

If given the choice between supporting animal cruelty via the violent factory farm system and its accompanying slaughterhouse workers and eating a vegan meal every once in a while, I choose the latter. Before all the carnivores charge that I’m elevating animals above humans, I am not. All I am saying is that animals matter. They may not matter as much as humans, but they matter nonetheless.

Consider that 9.1 billion animals were slaughtered for food in 2013 according to the Humane Society of the United States, and globally over 59 billion animals are killed every year. We are immune to the numbers, alienated from ourselves, our fellow non-human animals and the product on our plates. Just as we are immune to the abuse of animals that happens on a daily basis in Canada.

Canada is no beacon of humanity for animals. Do you remember the documented horror of Marineland animals in 2012, the mass grave of 56 sled dogs from Outdoor Adventures in B.C., or ‘Canada’s shame’ in the notorious annual slaughter of seals?

Why is it that we know more about the Bieber’s antics or the hijinks of the Kardashian clan than we do about how the meat we eat arrived on our plate? I encourage us all to vote with our dollars and consider reducing our animal consumption and educating yourselves about animal issues. 

You don`t have to become a vegan.  I am a vegan. But, I also live in reality, not never-never land, and I understand that most people will not become vegans. But, will you consider reducing your animal consumption?

In the end, things will remain the same, the unthinkable will continue to occur, the animals will continue to be tortured and teased to death, and people will continue to super-size their meals and clamber to all-you-can-eat chicken wing night at the local bar, –until the public votes with their dollars. As Melanie Joy notes (author of “Why we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows”) our awareness of the realities of slaughter houses will not be sustained without active engagement of information.

We must stay informed lest we fall into complacency via denial of reality and the invisibility of pain.

Even though you call it beef instead of ground-up cow, it’s still slaughterhouse horror on your plate.

No manner of compartmentalization can eliminate this fact. There is a reason the Chilliwack videos were ascertained ‘undercover’. It is because we were never meant to see the inside of a slaughterhouse. Apparently it’s bad for business.

Jeremy Bentham, an early animals activist said: “The question is not can they reason? Nor is it can they talk? But can they suffer?”

And they do suffer, so very much.

Now that you know this information, what will you do with it?

The late great Maya Angelou said, “once you know better, you do better”, I ask you, what will you do better now?

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