The New York Times recently published a disturbing expose of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, a tax-payer-funded testing facility run the by federal government that is seeking to create bigger, better, more productive versions of farmed animals.
The NYT story is utterly horrifying in what it reveals about the callous treatment of individual animals–from hormone injections that spur faster, bigger growth, to selective breeding for greater litter sizes. to abandoning unwanted babies and allowing them to die. And much, much more. As the article states:
Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed.
Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop “easy care” sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.
Shown above: One days’ worth of eggs from the former backyard hens at Triangle Chance for All’s Microsanctuary roughly equals the number of eggs laid per year by one of their wild ancestors.
This pathological abuse is horrible and cannot be justified. Period. Others are recognizing this truth and seeing through the lies of animal agriculture. For example, Wayne Hsiung of Direct Action Everywhere wrote an enlightening response to the NYT article that highlights all of the problems with believing that this facility (and factory farming in general) is committing unique atrocities.
The reality of the situation is that these obvious tortures are not restricted to “factory” farming; they are inextricably connected to every farmed animal, no matter where they are living or how they are treated. Practically all farmed animals today grow at certain rates (like the “broiler” chickens raised for meat who are killed at six weeks old, long after they have become crippled by their own bulk), have certain numbers of babies, lay a certain number of eggs–all as a result of human manipulation–through selective breeding and more invasive genetic tinkering.
The resident hens at Triangle Chance for All are perfect examples. Almost all of them came from backyard flocks (not battery cages or “free-range/cage-free” farms), and each will lay between 250 and 300 eggs per year, unlike her wild ancestors, who lays between 10 and 15 eggs per year. All domesticated hens are victims of their own hijacked biology, and most will die well before their time because of this. In the case of other animals, their premature deaths typically come at the hands of a human–either because their flesh is desired, or their productivity (and thus their usefulness) has waned.
We can try to stave off this death, but there is only so much we can do. The only true way to stop the suffering of future generations is to go vegan and end the demand for ALL animal products, and if possible we can liberate animals from the oppression in which they live. But by going vegan, we take a huge step away from this endless torture by ending the demand for the altered, exploited bodies of the mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters.
Justin Van Kleeck has a Ph.D. in English but left academia in part to work on veganism, the environment, and other social issues. He is a freelance writer who, with his wife Rosemary, recently founded Triangle Chance for All (http://trianglechanceforall.org), a non-profit organization that runs a small “microsanctuary” for rescued farmed animals and promotes ethical veganism. Justin and Rosemary are working to build The Microsanctuary Movement (www.facebook.com/microsanctuarymovement) in order to help inspire others to use what resources they can to provide sanctuary to animals in need. Despite all of that, Justin is an extreme and unapologetic introvert.