This blog is a tough one to read. And my god a tough one to write. Animal welfare and preventing animal cruelty is something I am strongly passionate about and the way in which animals are treated in the farming industry, in particular factory farming is heartbreaking. Things are not like they were back in the day when Ol’ MacDonald had a farm and the animals lived outside happily, grazing, with sunlight and clean healthy conditions. This blog focuses around the issues of factory farming and only some of the issues the animals and the planet face as a result of it (and for those of you who find you want to learn more I highly recommend watching documentaries such as Earthlings, Indigestible, Farm to Fridge, Cock Fight, Food Inc, and Vegucated).
So what meat and products actually comes from factory farms?
Most of the cheap meats, chicken, eggs, dairy products, beef, and pork products you have access to in the supermarkets (& in most fast food; always choosing the cheapest option isn’t the best as there is a reason it is cheap meat) come from factory farms (unless they state they are organic or pasture raised etc). In fact in the US, over 99% of farm animals are raised in factory farms, which focuses on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare (meaning animals aren’t given the right to proper humane treatment prior to their slaughter).
Times have changed and unfortunately the life and the health of the animal is one of the things most rarely considered. Animals are simply $ signs to most farmers. It’s barely even fair to call them “farmers” anymore, rather its multi-million dollar corporations that get subsidized by the government to pump out cheap meat and to provide pharmaceutical companies with more potential to make MORE money.
Did you know:
Antibiotics are used more commonly for livestock than for the general population. In the US alone around 80% of antibiotics are pumped in to the livestock’s water and food.
Since when did it become acceptable or normal for a cow to have more medications than humans?
At what stage during evolution did the animals stand up (learn to speak) and go ‘shit I’ve noticed this thing wrong with my belly, I can’t shake this flu, and I just feel down right depressed most of the time Doc, can you help me out?’
Clearly they didn’t. They get so pumped full of drugs to compensate for the lack of sanitary and inhumane conditions in which they are forced to live. Antibiotics are necessary because of the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions that the animals live in and are needed to ensure that diseases don’t spread – and this is then leading to issues like antibiotic resistant bacteria strains developing among other issues. Hormones are also thrown in to the mix to make the animals grow (fatten up) at an unnatural pace, to minimize ‘production’ time and costs of raising the animal.
Sadly, chickens are bred and drugged at a rate that their hearts, lungs, and limbs can’t keep up and they end up dying because they are often unable to move as their legs cannot support their weight. And that ‘free-range’ or ‘cage-free’ label – doesn’t always mean what you think it does. They may be free to range outside of a cage but this doesn’t tell you how much space, what drugs they are pumped and fed with, how much sunlight if any, and how many animals are crushed in around them – simply google free range and cage free to get the real idea!
Cows are also stuck standing in confined spaces often linked up to tubes and machines, and even given hormones that mimic pregnancy so that the cow just keeps on producing milk unnaturally.
This is the sad reality of the world we are living in.
Think this doesn’t affect you, unfortunately it does – whether you eat factory farmed meat or not.
Humans are becoming more and more antibiotic resistant, in fact around 60,000 Americans die each year from it, which leads us to begin to ponder ‘why’?
Whilst this is often partly due to humans over-reliance on taking antibiotics that we are so easily given (myself being someone who used to take them way too willingly), but could the inappropriate over-use and consumption of it being passed on to humans through our dairy and meat products be partly to blame? Research indicates yes.
Not only are we becoming antibiotic resistant, but research has started to point the finger at the hormones used for cows to links with increased rates of colon, breast, and prostate cancer, as well as having detrimental effects on our natural estrogen and progesterone levels.
I’m not even going in to some of the issues such as inflammation or digestive issues from over-consumption of animal products, this post is mainly to get you thinking about how you can help make a difference by starting with your daily choices like choosing organic, grass-fed, pasture raised and opting for meat-free healthy options. The world (& the animals) is suffering and the more each of us stand up and make more active choices in our daily life, the more things will eventually change. Did you know:
- 1/5th of the world’s greenhouse gases are produced by livestock production, which is even more than transport. And unlike the mining industries, the farming industry is not forced to pay for the detrimental environmental damage it is causing (again ask yourself why and who this benefits).
- Around 70% of forest land in South America has now been converted to land for grazing livestock… and we wonder why global warming is becoming such an issue.
- It is estimated that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat, and yet some countries don’t even have access to clean water.
- 35% of the world’s cereal (like corn and soy) is grown to feed livestock, and in the US alone, 80% of corn and 50% of soy grown is used to feed the livestock.
The numbers are frightening, saddening, and eye-opening.
Below, is a few short points to help you make informed decisions about the quality and the source of your meat products. The following is some sad realities of being an unlucky animal born in to the factory farming (be careful reading as this can be quite hard to read):
- Each day, millions of baby (often only a day old) male chickens are ground up/thrown in to machines alive because they are no use to the egg laying industry.
- Chickens that are used for meat are often still conscious after having their throats slit and dropped in hot water to have their feathers removed.
- Animals are mutilated so that they are suited to the farms conditions that doesn’t allow them to move or have access to fresh air and sunlight. This includes cutting off beaks, cutting teeth, amputating tails of cows and pigs (so that other animals stuck in the conditions can’t bite the tail that is stuck in front of them).
- Veal is a result of the male calves aged between 3-18 weeks (the females are either killed or used for milk production) who are taken from their mother at birth chained or locked in tiny stalls so they can’t move about much (this keeps the meat tender), and are fed a milk substitute which makes them gain 2+ pounds each day. They are also fed a diet that is low in iron so they become anemic, as this gives the meat that pinker/paler colour than normal beef products.
- In the dairy industry, the calves are rarely allowed access to their mother’s milk, which causes distress to both the mother and the calves. The calves that survive are often only given access to the milk that is unfit for human consumption (further reasons to avoid dairy products like milk other than us not being a baby cow – There is around 130 million pus cells per glass (250ml/8oz.) of milk. Gross huh? And we wonder why it has such an inflammatory effect on our bodies.)
- Cows are naturally gassy, but when they are fed a diet of grains and one that is low in roughage (aka grass) the gas does not expel naturally and often gets trapped. The cows either suffocate to death as their stomach expands and presses against their lungs, or they have a hose shoved down their throat to release the trapped gas.
The quality of your food source affects the nutrient density of it. Animals that live in fear, are killed inhumanely, and are forced to live in torturous conditions leads to meat that you really don’t want to be eating – meat that is filled with adrenaline (from so much fear at death), hormones, antibiotics and steroids (and yes this still transfers slightly to you when you eat it), and leads to future health complications for the person eating it (read this experiment here – again a word of warning as it is tough and traumatic to read).
What makes the life of animals used for meat production less important than any other – human or non-human. What makes us as humans so willing to go in to denial and turn a blind eye to what we all know is happening – we need to wake up, be more proactive, make more conscious decisions, and try to make a change even if it is only in our own lives – every little helps. Every single animal has a soul and every single animal deserves the right to a happy life free of cages, free of having their beaks, teeth, and tails cut off, free of abuse, free of horrific living conditions, and free of fear. I’ve had to tone this blog post down because I began to get so upset with the images I wanted to include to help you see what really happens but for some it would seriously be too heartbreaking and distressing to see (simply google image factory farming).
Now I’m not saying this to make you boycott meat – what you choose to eat is your decision – What I want you to do though, is really evaluate the sources of your meat and dairy products. Not only for the animals and the planet but for your future health. As tough as it may be sometimes seem to pay nearly 2 or 3x as much for a meat product (or eggs) just because it says organic over the super cheap product, you can see why this is important. Organic, pasture and grass fed are the way forward if you choose to consume it. And in reality you really don’t need to eat meat as frequently as most of us do – try swapping a few days a week for meat free options like beans, legumes, and plant based whole foods and you’ll notice the extra cost you pay for the organic options isn’t an issue and your health and energy (and karmic energy) will feel much more balanced.
This is an excerpt from one of the modules in the Wellness Revolution Program, and if you want more support, information, and food help – grab it here, or if you need more plant based food options and recipes check this out (also included free in the above program currently).
To go on a truly self-transformative journey and change your life with my guidance at my Yoga Retreat – check this out.
Sending you so much love and light,