Wednesday, 13 June 2012

All those playing the game of "Animal Life"

All those playing the game of "Animal Life" 

Basically, we have four different categories of those involved throughout the whole business of Factory Farming. There is the government, the employers/workers in the factories and slaughterhouses, us, the consumers and the animals.

Government

Isn't it funny how everything boils down to the big guys on the top of the hill? Canadians think they run the show, but we are so wrong. Anyways, that is a small portion of all this mess. What I want to talk about concerning the government—besides my bitter attitude towards them—is my bitter attitude towards them. I mean, come on! These people are feeding us information like: "You need meat to be strong!", and "You need dairy for healthy bones!". Really? Because I'm vegan and I am extremely happy about my great health and have you seen these abs? No, you haven't, and that's ok, but they are pretty great... you know, not to brag. And what about this guy?

http://fitvegan4life.tumblr.com/post/16260735633/name-edward-james-goins-age


What I'm trying to say, is that the government is giving us these food pyramids that typically have a dairy and meat section, as if that is going to save our lives, or make them a little longer if we follow the pyramid top to bottom. Well, no. Thanks, but no thanks.

All of these messages from the people in the big chairs are because factory farming is a very large part of our economy right now. Sad, but true. However, if we stopped demanding the product, we would force them into finding something else to sell. Simple, really. We just have to do it.

Employers/Workers

Alright, now I can stop being bitter about the government and be bitter about these guys. What's great is that these people are about as powerful as we feel most of the time. If we stopped buying their product, they would be out of the job. They would not be able to get away with what they are currently doing to farm animals, fellow workers, or the environment. Also, many workers have no idea that they would have rights outside of their situation, or don't think they are qualified anywhere else. In truth, they could work jobs on the same sort of level with a little training—for example, construction—in a by far healthier environment where they are treated equally, respected and have proper, much higher pay.

Consumers


This is us. The most powerful humans in numbers. It is always up to us to make the decision: What do we support? What do we not support? Here's the kicker, and the most important point I can make in this post: Whether we like or not, we are in this. We either support meat and dairy, or we don't. Hard to face, but every single dollar counts. It is a vote, and one we should treat seriously and responsibly. If and when we make the decision, we need to be able to know why we made the decision, and be able to back it up logically. This is not something which should be treated apathetically. Animal welfare, environmental sustainability, human rights. These should not be tossed aside.

Non-humans


Finally, we are at the focus of the subject. They hold no stakes, even though we hold steaks. They have no say about what happens to them. They never do. Look at dogs, who are bought into homes where they may or may not be fed every night. Or horses, where very few people actually understand how to take proper care of them. Animals never get the say, so it is up to us to use compassion towards them, because studies upon studies—never mind our intuition—prove that these living beings are sentient. Now I sound like a PETA supporter. I'm not trying to, I swear!

What more can I say? The government's best interest is not our best interest; the workers tend to feel stuck because their employers tend to be little red guys with pitchforks most of the time; we hold the power but don't seem to realize it, nor what our dollar means; and animals have no voice of their own. I think I covered it.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Environment

Environment

http://economics.illinoisstate.edu/


When we ask the question "What is the world's biggest pollutant?", the ideas which strike us first are usually things like vehicle fuel or anything oil use related. In truth, though, Factory Farming poses the largest threat to our environment. There is no greener movement than taking away animal products from our diet. When we apply an animal-free diet to our lives, we are not only covering animal welfare and human rights, but we are doing the best thing we can do personally in order to fight against climate change. 


Air


According to the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), some factory farm sites are filthier than America's most polluted cities. Factory farms are known to emit thousands of pounds of ammonia and hundreds of pounds of hydrogen sulfide every day as well as an absurd amount of methane. These toxins not only threaten the health of the people nearby with heart diseases and lung disorders, but are destroying our environment at frightening rates. For once, we need to set aside the worry that too many people are driving cars, because in truth, the youth of today are biking and walking now much more than they were 10, 20 years ago. The real issue that no one seems to be aware of is the insane amount of air pollution caused by factory farming. The way our society, and most societies around the globe operates livestock farming accounts for nearly two thirds of the nitrous oxide in our ecosystems as well as two thirds of the ammonia in our air. These gases are major factors in climate change, acid rain and the acidification of ecosystems.


Land


It takes approximately five square metres of land to produce one hamburger. This means it takes seventy acres of land every day in order to keep the production of meat going. Sustaining a meat-based diet as the "normal diet" is destroying our rainforests. The use of this land aside, the amount of manure which is put in the ground to grow other food is over the top. In the beginning, farmers had the right idea: use a little bit of manure here and there, that is healthy. Now, however, the mass production of farm animals means mass production of farm animal crap, which begs the question: where do we put it all? We are overcompensating. As if grinding up male baby chicks wasn't bad enough, we are also throwing in as much cow dung as we can muster up to throw in to the soil. Through the soil it all goes and straight into our water…


Water


That's right, manure in our water. The USDA—an organization which, although despicable at times, comes out with some great statistics—reported that sixty million tons of manure from farm animals is produced every year, 130 times more than human waste. Just take a moment to think about that. How many humans are there? Now how many animals must that mean we are mass-producing and slaughtering? Now, what does all this mean for our environment? Well, it takes about 5000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Eating that beef represents the same effect as driving a car for three weeks. Put that into perspective: how much distance can you cover in a car over three weeks? And how much time does it take to eat a pound of beef. And yet, they are the same. Still, once someone has eaten five pounds of beef in one week, they have used 25000 gallons of water to produce those five pounds and have done the equivalent of expelling gasoline into the atmosphere continuously for nearly four months.


I would like to direct your attention to this article: http://boingboing.net/2007/01/20/big-factory-pig-farm.html


It is short and precise, and she says it a lot better than I ever could without straight out copying what she has written. Also, if you scroll down a little farther, you'll see a picture of a satellite image with pink "lakes" on it, take a look!




Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Humans


Humans



The thing people generally relate veganism or anything about factory farms to first is animal welfare or animal rights—understandably. However, the discontinued support of factory farms is the support of human rights as well. Not all farms and slaughterhouses, but numerous factories hire immigrant workers. The problem is not that they come from other countries, of course, it is that they do not usually understand the working conditions they will be exposed to once they start. The workers fall victims to lung diseases because of the excessive amount of toxins floating through the air such as dry fecal matter, feed, animal dander, feathers, fungi and other sources. All of these create airborne particles which get caught in the lungs of the workers as they breath. Consequences of their work include chronic respiratory disorders, exacerbation of asthma, cardiovascular complications and premature death.

One afternoon, Enrique Araiza was trying to clear a blockage in a manure pit pump when he was overcome by the gases and collapsed facedown in the manure. Attempting to rescue his co-worker, Jose Alatorre entered the pit but was also asphyxiated by the gases. Tragically, both men died. Enrique Araiza was 29 and Jose Alatorre was 24. ~Food Empowerment Project. 

To top it off, factory farm workers are given little pay and often feel unqualified to work anywhere else. The farms have no regard for their workers' health or financial security, as well as their families.

Workers in slaughterhouses—in fear of being fired as they can be let go at any moment by their employers—refrain from reporting injuries and safety concerns. They are always aware that there are many other people who can step in for them at any point if they do not meet "company standards", so they do what they need to in order to keep their job, despite having to work with highly dangerous tools at extremely fast paces. In one case, a poster in the break room read "0 complaints = End of month BBQ"

Slaughterhouses have regulators to make sure everything is going smoothly and functioning properly as well as meeting the standards of a good workplace environment. In most cases however, their office is out of sight of the workers, which means they are turning a blind eye to the situation on the kill floor in order to not have excuses to slow down production. The work on the kill floor is very stressful and workers tend to get tired quickly. They are often forced to work overtime, and when they are working in such dangerous conditions to begin with, imagine what it's like when they are tired. 

One of the most unfortunate facts about the life of a slaughterhouse worker is not the physical toll their work takes on them, but the psychological effects.

A former kill floor manager gave the following account: "The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. . . . Pigs down on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them-beat them to death with a pipe. I can't care." ~Food Empowerment Project

After working all day in environments where animals are struggling, terrified and stressed out themselves through being gutted and dumped in boiling water while alive, these people who must do the work often arrive home angry, stressed and in many cases, violent towards those around them. The problem goes much deeper than the scars on their skin.


Much of the information I posted here comes from: http://www.foodispower.org
It is a great website with lots of information about many different topics and is a great place to learn about social justice issues in depth. Take a look!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cows

Cows

http://www.timos.com

Cows, as we know, are very large creatures. This means they take up much more space than the pig, not to mention a chicken. This costs us in many ways. Cows eat 110 lbs. of food and drink 30-40 gallons of water each day. The sad fact is that we could feed whole and multiple villages with the food we give the obscene number of cows in America alone. Instead, we are supporting the growing industry of factory farming, where the cows killed for our society's stomachs are much smaller than the amount of feed produced for their stomachs. Once the day is done, each cow urinates about 30 lbs. of water and releases around 60 lbs. of feces. The consequences of this are depleting the health of humans and non-human animals alike, as well as aiding in our environments destruction. All of this is because of the over-population of one very large animal. I suppose it is a good thing we don't factory farm elephants, but this issue is ridiculously huge nonetheless.


Dairy Cows

This is something most people want to avoid looking at. As if realizing what it takes to put meat on the plate wasn't bad enough, right? I mean, taking away the beautiful image of green pastures when talking about milk and cheese and yogurt and butter—well, that's just stepping too far over the line. 
By now it should be evident that in order to get the fruit of their labor, according to humans their labor must be hell. Recent studies have shown that cows bond with other cows more than others, just like humans with other humans. This means that cows have strong emotions which dictate their moods. This means they have best friends. So what did humans do about this? We turned the discovery around for better profit, suggesting we place these bonded cows side-by-side in order to increase milk production. 

Courtesy of chooseveg.ca
A cow suffering from the common disease: Mastitis
Another way to increase milk production—well, actually in order to keep it in existence—is for the cow to be pregnant or to have recently given birth. What this means is that workers come behind the cows with what are called "rape racks", long needles with bull seamen; the cows have been so intensely farmed that their bodies cannot support the weight of a bull. The workers reach their arm up the anus of the cow and insert this "rape rack" into her uterus. The cow begins to produce milk and farmers are happy. However, this cow eventually has to give birth. When the time comes, she is taken to an open concrete floor where the calf comes out and within minutes to a few hours, the calf is dragged away, still wet and calling. Of course, they both call. The bond of mother to her calf is so strong and instantaneous that often she will try and follow her calf who is being dragged by the hind legs as they both loudly call to each other. Would it be too soft of me to say they cry? The mother cow is then lead back to her stall where she continues to produce 110 lbs of milk every day, and right after giving birth she is inseminated once again.

Cows face many diseases because of the altered feed they are given in order to yield such high profits such as "Milk Fever", where the cow's calcium depletes faster than it can be restored. Another is Laminitis, which causes lameness. When an animal is lame—cannot walk because their legs will not move—they are called "Downers". This happens in both dairy cows and cows raised for meat because of improper treatment. Half of the dairy cows in the US suffer from Mastitis, an extremely painful infection in the utter. There are many more disease caused by factory farming which are preventable, curable and/or treatable, yet nothing is done about them.



Calves


http://www.animalliberationfront.com

What people do not realize is that the dairy industry literally fuels the industry which puts cow meat on the plate. By eating or drinking dairy, people support the production of meat. Every calf in these factory farms come from dairy cows. The half who are born female are separated and raised to replace older dairy cows in the future who are spent and can no longer produce milk. The half who are boys are no use to the dairy industry. Instead, they are placed in separate pens and are fattened over the 18 to 20 weeks of their lives where they live in wooden crates in which they cannot turn around, lie down comfortably or stretch. While humans are busy drinking their milk, these calves are given a milk substitute which is deficient in iron and fibre. This substitute is made to make the calf anemic which creates a lightly colored flesh known as veal.




Slaughter



Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary
Because cows are so large, their process is somewhat different from what you know about that of a pig's. Once the cow has arrived at the slaughterhouse after many hours of transportation in a truck, they wait their turn to enter the slaughterhouse. They are usually all placed together on a large field where they are officially exposed to daylight for the first time in their lives. It is an interesting idea—if not a distressing one—to think that something we find so wonderful and yet the sign of just another day is for them something to fear. The cows are herded through pens and wind up single file outside a door. It has been noted that cows tremble while they wait for their turn. Once they enter the door one by one, they are placed on a conveyer belt where along the way there is a worker with a gun on a catwalk above. This gun quickly shoots a metal bolt through the brain of the cow which should render them brain dead. Unfortunately, because of the speed the workers must meet to reach a certain number of cows every day, sometimes the bolt misses where it should hit.  Chains are then attatched to the cow's hind legs and she is pulled upside down. At that point her aorta is cut so as to bleed her dry, except that she is still kicking and struggling. Often still moving, she then goes to the tail cutter, the belly ripper and the hide puller.



I encourage you to visit this website just to look around: http://www.animalsuffering.com/animal-cruelty.php


Friday, 4 May 2012

Pigs

Pigs
http://czthomas.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/flu-pigs-cartoon.jpg

A study on pigs in recent years demonstrated through the use of food and a mirror, that pigs are smarter than they lead on. Conductors of the study placed a mirror in the same enclosure as 4-8 week old pigs. The piglets would walk up to the mirror, nuzzle it, vocalize, and move in different positions as they watched what happened in their reflection. The 4-8 week old pigs had only hours with the new toy. The next day, a mirror was placed in a pen with a piglet already accustomed with the mirror, and another piglet which was not. When food was placed in the enclosure where it could not be seen without the mirror, it took the experienced pig a matter of seconds—about 23, to be exact—to find the food. When we find out it takes 4-8 week old pigs to be able to demonstrate mirror self-recognition, it may come as a shock to find that it takes humans at least 18-21 months to demonstrate the same thing. Not only that, but pigs take one day to learn how to use a mirror, when it takes weeks for the infant human. 

“[Pigs] can learn something on the first try, but then it’s difficult for them to unlearn it,” said Suzanne Held of the University of Bristol. “They may get scared once and then have trouble getting over it.” ~"Pigs Prove to Be Smart, If Not Vain", http://www.nytimes.com/

 Birth

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/05/02/article-0-04C7324C000005DC-710_468x300.jpgJam-packed piglets on a pig farm
At 4 weeks old, piglets are taken away from their mothers who might be 7 months old by the time they are fertilized. The sows which gave birth have no access to her piglets—as her cage is almost the same size as her body—however her piglets can reach her teets. As soon as they are taken away, the sow is fertilized again. The piglets are transported to a room where workers pick them up by the back leg, holding them upside down and/or by the head as they squeal at full volume. Their ears are cropped, their tails docked, teeth cut and they are castrated, all without anaesthesia. 

Piglets are then either grouped together in secluded areas, or are individually placed in gestation crates where they cannot move around for the months they are alive. Thus commences the fattening. 

"Life"

Gestation crates are pens made up of metal bars and concrete floors. They are so narrow that the pigs cannot turn around, which means they face one direction from weeks old to their transportation to slaughter months later. The pigs are fed an antibiotic-filled diet, much like chickens from the previous post as well as every other factory farmed animal. Pigs have no outdoor exposure until their last day of life.

Slaughter

Pigs walk into a stun pen, where two pads are placed behind the ears of the pig and shock them with electrodes. Once stunned, the pig is chained by the feet, hung upside down and an incision is made to bleed the animal. The pig is then placed into a scalding tank where extremely hot water burns the fur off it's body. If the pig was not already dead, it has definitely been drowned by now. The rest of the process at this point is irrelevant.
Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary
Sorry for posting this one, but there's no nice way of showing it.


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Birds

 Birds
http://landscapeandurbanism.blogspot.ca/
A good laugh

The problem with birds, is that humans have a hard time relating to them. As soon as the similarities between a human and non-human animal is lost, compassion is easily forgotten. The scaly legs, the feathers, the beaks and the abrupt nature of birds helps us to ignore their individuality. The fact is that every bird is an individual, and if you were to spend an hour with a chicken, you would probably be able to see different characteristics and different personalities; this is when an animal becomes a someone instead of a something. Being individuals is one things, but another factor which relates birds to humans is the clear ability to feel pain. The big question—not only relating to birds, but to every conscious being—is if someone can feel pain, why would we want to hurt them?






Broiler Chickens

Broiler Chickens are the hens specifically raised for meat. In most cases, these birds are placed in sheds from day 1 of life to day 42, when they are transported to the slaughterhouse. The woodsheds under their feet are replaced few if any times in their life, and by the end the floor is barely seen because of the weight they've gained. Anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 hens in one barn, each one's beak is seared off at the tip to prevent harm to other hens as they quickly turn unnaturally violent towards each other in their environment. On day 42, workers must pick up as many chickens as they can in one hand by the legs, which tends to break the chickens' bones as they are grouped together and thrown in cages for transport to slaughter.

Once in the truck, Broilers may travel for up to 12 hours without food or water while in cramped conditions, exposed to anything from sun to hail.

The typical Broiler Shed


Layers

Layers are the hens specifically used for laying eggs. These chickens are placed in "battery cages" so small with so many other chickens that they have less than a piece of paper's amount of space to live out their lives. They cannot stretch their wings, the wire floor of their cages cut their feet and they jump at the bars at an attempt to escape. Like the Broiler hen, their beaks are seared off. Naturally, hens lay approximately 24 eggs in a year. In factory farms, however, by the end of one year she is spent, having already laid 250 eggs. The chicken can no longer lay eggs at this point, and one year into her natural 20, she is slaughtered—with the same rules as the Broiler hen.

Rows and rows of Layers which will soon be spent


Slaughter

Chickens in transport
In this case I will use chickens as the example, but all birds used for meat face this experience in the end. The chicken, once stacked in a cramped truck, is transported anywhere from 8 to 12 hours without food or water no matter the weather conditions. On the way to the slaughterhouse, some may fall out of the truck, as a result dying on the highway. There are large fans in the truck in warm weather so as to keep as many chickens possible from dying of heat suffocation. When the truck pulls in to park at the slaughterhouse, the chickens may wait approximately 1 to 9 hours before being unloaded. Once taken from the vehicle, "Live Hangers" grab the birds—once again by their feet—and hang them upside down on moving racks. These birds are already unnaturally over-weight, so hanging them by their feet—and in some cases, by one foot—places a lot of pain on their hips, among other areas as the blood rushes to their heads. To keep them from moving as they tend to flap their wings and create the most horrible noises in panic mode, the hens are pushed through water with electric currents. This does not render the birds unconscious. Either human or machine then cuts each hen's neck to drain the animal. More times than not, the bird is still conscious as usually the arteries are not properly severed. After being stationary in a "bleed-out tunnel", the chickens are dipped in "scalding tanks". These tanks of water burn the baby birds until they finally die.

This is the most common method of slaughter which kills over 30 million birds per day, though there is also gassing, and for "spent" hens, live burial.

New born males are of no use to factory farms and are therefore ground up alive upon birth for fertilizer or thrown into garbage bags and suffocated in dumpsters.



Works Cited 




2010 Food Empowerment Project. "Factory Farm Workers." Food 


Empowerment Project. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://


"Census Bureau Homepage." Census Bureau Homepage. Web. 29 Apr. 



"Factory Farming in Canada." ChooseVeg.ca: A Guide to Vegetarian 


Living in Canada. Mercy For Animals. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. 




Fricker, Peter. "Factory Farming Cruel for Animals and Hard on the 


Planet, Too." Canada.com. The Vancouver Sun, 25 Sept. 2007. 




McWILLIAMS, James E. "The Myth of Sustainable Meat." 


Www.nytimes.com. The New York Times, 12 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 




Nierenberg, Danielle, and Sue Coe. Factory Farming in the Developing 


World: In Some Critical Respects, This Is Not Progress at All. 


Worldwatch.org. June 2003. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://




Stevenson, Peter. FACTORY FARMING AND THE MYTH OF CHEAP 


FOOD. FACTORY FARMING AND THE MYTH OF CHEAP 


FOOD: THE ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF INTENSIVE 


ANIMAL HUSBANDRY SYSTEMS. © Compassion in World 


Farming Trust, 1997, Sept. 1997. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <http://




VHS. "Farm Animal Welfare." Meat Consumption and Factory Farm 


Suffering รข   the Facts. Vancouver Humane Society. Web. 29 Apr. 




Davis, Karen. "Poultry Slaughter - The Need for Legislation and 


Elimination of Electrical Immobilization." United Poultry 


Concerns [UPC]. © United Poultry Concerns, Inc. Web. 02 May 


Nielsen, Mark. "Pretend Play, Mirror Self-recognition and Imitation: A Longitudinal Investigation through the Second Year." Diss. 2004. Abstract. SciVerse Science Direct. Elsevir Inc., 2004. Web. 3 May 2012. <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163638304000414>.


Angier, Natalie. "Pigs Prove to Be Smart, If Not Vain." NY Times. New York Times Company, 09 Nov. 2009. Web. 03 May 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/science/10angier.html>.


Viva! "End Factory Farming." End Factory Farming. Viva! Vegetarians International Voice for Animals. Web. 04 May 2012. <http://www.factoryfarming.org.uk/pigs.html>.


Compassion in World Farming. "THE REALITY OF FACTORY FARMED PIGS."Factory Farmed Pigs: The Reality. Web. 04 May 2012. <http://www.ciwf.org.uk/what_we_do/pigs/reality_of_factory_farmed_pigs.aspx>.