Humans like to play god. We like to think god gave us the power to be god on earth because according to some questionable archaic manuscript “he made us in his image” – whatever that is. We like to think we have superior intelligence, (god given or evolved) and should therefore be in charge of the world around us. Humans are control freaks and narcissists, and the millennia have shown us to be dominating, cruel, and destructive – to everything and everyone – including ourselves.
As we formed our respective societies and cultures, we graduated from hunter-gatherers, basically eating whatever came our way – to farmers: growing our food and learning how to utilize it in its various forms, how to store it to last us through cold, barren weather, and how to fine tune its basic nature to give us more variety and better quality. We are pretty amazing when it comes to stuff like that.
I mean, the things we are able to do to food today to sustain us all with healthful options is nothing short of god like. As a result of our smarts and our new and improved diet, we grew as a species exponentially. This of course, meant we needed more food.
One of our strategies in feeding ourselves to keep up with the increased demand was to eliminate hunting as a mainstay and adapt animal husbandry into our farming practices. (Note: in the 1300s a “husbandman” was a farmer, so this aspect of farming became known under this sobriquet) So we bred and domesticated the animals we used to hunt. This way, we didn’t have to brave the elements and rely on our accuracy with aim in order to eat meat. We just had to go outside to our field and there was a plethora of quiet, trusting victims we could brutalize to put on our plates. Our food production had changed to keep up with our populations and needs. Gradually, farms turned into factories, churning out animal products faster than we could use them.
Our species had erupted like a human Vesuvius, and dammit we were hangry! So food became mass produced and then transported everywhere, even into space. We became a raging inferno of consumption, not just food, in everything.
Animals weren’t considered living beings; they were commodities to be exploited for our own gain. They were disposable. They were products. They were the epitome of the “use and toss” mentality. Maybe once of a day, a farmer cared about the animals he raised, even though they still might end up as food, he may have provided them with the best care he could. He may have even shed a tear on slaughter day. Native Americans are said to pray to the spirit of the animal they hunt and kill, to thank it for it’s beneficence to their people. Today however, that is mostly not the case. Our meat is lined up in a grocery store freezer, wrapped in plastic and labelled neutrally. There is no comparison to the living creature it once was. No one thinks about the animal as a being, as a living creature who thinks, feels love, feels fear, is happy or sad – just like us. As long as an animal is the “commodity” on a farm, whether for it’s meat or other by-product, its value is only as good as the dollar value the economy places upon it.
No one thinks about the feelings of the mother cow as her baby is taken from her right after birth so we can harvest her milk; no one thinks about the baby, bawling for his mother as he is locked into a small container to confine his movements so his flesh will remain tender for veal. We turn a blind eye to truck after truck filled with living beings driving down the highway, eyes meeting ours through our windows; eyes that you couldn’t tell weren’t human except for the setting. Do you look away? Do you block it out? (Although once of a day, humans were pushed into containers en masse and transported to so-called work camps, and I’m pretty sure anyone meeting their eyes looked away too.)
And what’s sad about all of this is we don’t need to eat meat to survive. Our farming skills, our nutritional knowledge has also progressed to the extent we understand meat-centric diets are bad for us, and plant-based is not only completely doable, but also super delicious.
And no one has to die!
But whether a small family farm or giant farming conglomerate, one thing cannot be disputed: there is no humane way to die. Electrocuted, throat slashed, boiled alive, strung up then cut, gassed, it’s all cruel, painful, and unnecessary. These animals didn’t ask to be kept in a barn all their short lives; to be kicked and pushed into subservience; to be kept in small cages, lying in their own filth; to have their babies removed right after birth; to be artificially inseminated over and over again by men with tools and thick arms. They didn’t ask to be born into this world of cruelty and inhumanity. They didn’t agree to be oppressed and tortured for our gain. They have no voice to speak their truth. And because of that – because they can’t fight back – they are victimized again and again and again.
And I’m here to tell you, peeps, it doesn’t matter if the cow was “grass-fed” or the chicken was “free range”. It’s all the same when you’re loaded into the back of a truck with prods and jackboots only to end up at a bloody abattoir, smelling the carnage of others gone before you, facing the steely eyes of the executioner who just wants to get his paycheck at the end of the week and doesn’t give two shits whether he is careful in how he administers the coup de grace. (Holocaust survivors recounted similar reasoning.)
Don’t be fooled by big business propaganda: these positive terms used to convince us the animals led a happy life prior to dying is just so much hype. Like the term “Work Camps” during WWII, cartoon drawings of laughing cows; cute, chubby pigs standing before a grill in chef hats; chickens waving on a roadside sign wearing a napkin bib: these are gimmicks designed to keep us blind to the reality of what these beings go through, how they suffer, before being unceremoniously killed all in the name of feeding our families. (Funny, not funny, this excuse was used for the “work camps” too!)
Yes, the meat you feed your family was once a living, breathing animal – like yourself. Like your children. Like your pets. Where is our god-like intelligence now? Either we are not as smart as we think we are or we are purposely turning a blind eye to mass murder on a global scale – once again.