As the holidays approach various sentient nonhuman animals (animals) including chickens and pigs are served up as special tasty meals around the world. Of course, billions of these and other nonhuman beings also wind up on platters of suffering and death throughout the year.
When I talk with meat-eaters the vast majority believe there are strict and humane standards of care for food animals that are enforced rigorously. This is not the case as shown by the number of complaints registered against slaughterhouses and the number that have been cited and/or closed down because of the reprehensible way in which their most unfortunate inhabitants are treated (see also and). And, when the heinous abuse is exposed, people care. Indeed, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act (63% to 37%; see also) in November 2008, described as "the most important animal law reform in the last decade."
Now, we're learning that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is preparing to implement a rule that will increase the number of chickens who whiz by inspectors from 35 per minute to 175 per minute. I'll spare you the gory details of the way in which the poultry killing machine heartlessly processes these highly sentient, emotional, and empathic birds, but many people fear that the increased rate of processing will result in much more pain and suffering and that millions upon millions of chickens will be boiled alive while conscious. According to this report, "Slaughterhouse workers call these fully conscious birds 'red skins' because they are still full of blood when they hit the boiling water. In one year that the government kept records for, 3,121,617 red skins were dropped into scalding tanks." After being scalded to remove their feathers they are dismembered, often while still conscious.
Not only will there be more suffering among the chickens when the processing rate is fivefold, there is also evidence that the meat will be less safe than it already is and that slaughterhouse workers will suffer more from processing 175 chickens per minute. To wit, "According to the coalition [of consumer, labor, public health and civil rights groups], 59 percent of poultry workers had definite or possible carpal tunnel syndrome when line speeds were 70-91 birds per minute. Those numbers would only increase as lines got faster."
You can do something to reduce the amount of suffering that chickens endure by telling the USDA not to implement this pending legislation here.
Babe, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches
The incredible inhumane treatment of pigs is also under investigation at a Puratone Corporation farm in Alborg, Manitoba, Canada. I always like to remind people that when they're ordering up a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich they're actually asking for a Babe, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Many gasp when they realize they're eating a relative of one of their favorite movie stars and many youngsters are appalled when they learn this fact about where their food comes from and who, not what, they're eating.
The footage of the egregious and repulsive abuse that is incredibly difficult to watch, obtained by an undercover investigator from Mercy for Animals Canada over a three-month period, "shows multiple problems ranging from downer pigs being kicked and pulled by their ears to get them to walk and piglets being slammed into the ground and being left to die slowly to pregnant sows being left with untreated prolapses and open wounds and pressure sores caused by rubbing against the bars of their gestation crates."
I'm sure no one would let a dog be treated with such horrific and intentional cruelty and these animals are no less sentient or feeling beings.
Cruelty can't stand the spotlight and we can all easily make huge and positive differences in the lives of billions of farm animals by registering our complaints and by choosing not to eat them.
The teaser image can be seen here.