“The greatness of a nation…can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
When people think of a moral horror, we think of the Holocaust—the campaign of genocide in which Hitler and his Nazi regime starved, beat, tortured and murdered six million Jews.
But we do not think of factory farming.
Yet for every human being that suffered under Hitler’s tyranny, several thousands of animals have suffered in these factory farms the past twenty years. The Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote,
“In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.”
Factory farm meat production comes with a great cost to our animals, natural resources and environment. Billions of animals suffer in these conditions, and year after year nothing has changed.
They never see the light of day or touch the soil.
90,000 cows are slaughtered in the U.S. every day.
14,000 chickens are killed in the U.S. every minute.
The amount of land, food, water and energy used to raise billions of animals for slaughter could be used to grow enough food for all of the starving people in the world.
1.2 billion people are starving in our world, but more than 50 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is used for animal livestock.
Nearly 80 percent of U.S. land is used for factory farms.
Fifty percent of our food supply goes to feeding domestic animals, meanwhile people across the globe are starving to death, but our cattle are well fed.
“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat…vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.” ~ Paul McCartney
Cattle grazing is the number one cause of destruction of the rainforest.
And we are destroying the rainforest at an alarming rate of 75 million acres a year.
That is 144 acres per minute.
And 2.4 acres a second.
Every burger we consume destroys a small plot of land in the rainforest. Seventy percent of the plants identified by the U.S. National Cancer Institute as useful in the treatment of cancer are found only in the rainforest and the rainforest produces 40 percent of the oxygen we breathe.
Meat wastes water.
Dr. George Borgstrom of Michigan State University estimates that 2,500 gallons of water are used per every pound of meat, and staggering evidence suggests this number is even higher.
Not gallons of water per cow…per pound.
It takes 33 gallons of water to grow a pound of carrots.
To grow one pound of wheat requires 25 gallons of water.
One 16-ounce steak uses the same amount of water you need for six months of showers, and the average American eats 97 pounds of beef a year.
You’d save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you would by not showering for an entire year.
Although we do not think that our individual actions matter, perhaps in the grand scheme of things, in the struggle against the inhumane meat and dairy industries, all evidence indicates they do.
The U.S. also uses billions of pounds of pesticides every year on our food supplies. Often, the animals are given arsenic drugs and chemical pesticides sprayed directly onto their skin to ward off parasites, and higher demand for meat has led factory farmers to search for other dangerous ways to supply it.
Every time you consume factory-raised meat or dairy products, you are consuming the antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides administered to the animals.
The FDA lists 1,700 drugs approved for use in animal feed, and of these drugs, approximately 300 include “weight gain.”
Jim Mason and Peter Singer, authors of the book, Animal Factories, estimate 20,000 to 30,000 different drugs actually being used—which means, factory farm meat will clog your arteries and then some.
Of the billions of animals slaughtered each year, the vast majority of them come from factory farms—yet the Federal Humane Slaughter Act is virtually non-existent.
Instead we continue to pour more and more money into these industries to support their economic growth, and decline of the human race.
We must take initiative to pass a Federal Humane Slaughterhouse Act banning factory farms, or we can destroy the industry by refusing—simply refusing—to eat meat or consuming only organic products.
If you must buy organic meat products, buy only certified organic.
In history, people have had to take risks for what they believe is morally right, even at the expense of sacrifices to things we find pleasurable—destroying our planet’s resources doesn’t justify any cost.
“To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.” ~ Buddha
Across the world everyday wars are being fought, and meanwhile people are dying from poverty, famine, global warming and terror; perhaps together we can help save the planet, and liberate our animals from bondage and purgatory by outlawing factory farms.
Boycott animals and animal products. Pretending an animal does not suffer like humans does not justify cruel behavior.
“Animals are my friends—and I don’t eat my friends.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
Sara Jean Deegan lives in southern California, and when she’s not practicing or teaching yoga, she can be found writing poems or playing her guitar, and her tiger striped pit bull-lab is her best friend. You can find more writing and fun yoga sequences on her blog: dsarajean.tumblr.com.
Like elephant journal readers for animal rights on Facebook.
Editors: Jamie Morgan/Kate Bartolotta
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