A study by Vegetarian Times shows that only 3.2% of Americans follow a vegetarian diet, meaning that most of the people in this country are meat eaters. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a meat eater, and we all know that being vegetarian or vegan is way healthier. The truth is, meat tastes good, and we will continue to eat it regardless of what our vegetarian friends tell us. Here is the problem: meat is so widely enjoyed that the farmers and big companies that raise, produce, and sell them need to keep up with the large demand. They managed to figure out a way in which they can keep up with our eating habits, but the way in which they are doing it is not only producing more but also hurting the animals and putting the consumers in jeopardy. As consumers, we have a right to know the process through which our meat goes–not only to protect ourselves but also to protect the animals.
When you go to the supermarket and try to decide the meat product you are going to buy, the meat section is filled with pretty pictures of big farmland spaces with cows standing fifty feet from each other eating grass, surrounded by sunshine and butterflies. The reality is the absolute opposite. First of all, it is not even farming anymore–it is “Factory Farming.” That should give someone an idea of what “farms” today are. They are no longer large acres of land where animals can move freely, but a confined space where animals are clustered together and can barely move, without appropriate ventilation or natural sunlight. Jonathan Anomaly, a professor at Duke University says that “crowding animals together in close confinement can induce stress and suppress their immune systems, raising parasite loads and making animals more susceptible to infections…(Anomaly 246).” If the animals’ immune systems are not in good shape, who is to say that the meat we put on our tables is free of infection?
One may wonder, why are they treating the animals this way if it’s not safe? The answer is very simple, it’s cheaper. Everything in the current food industry is about money. Whatever is cheaper for the companies will ultimately make it cheaper for us. This is truly a moral dilemma– how can we really justify the treatment that we are giving to the animals just to obtain lower prices in our meat? Why are these treatments being hidden from us, the consumers? We are the ones eating this product; we must know where it came from. The answer is given to us by Christine Parker and Josephine De Costa from Melbourne University. They say that practices like this are “seen as cruel by many consumers and activists (Parker 16).” If the consumers were aware of the process that the animals go through before getting to their tables, they would willingly stop consuming them until the farming practices changed.
So, do you still want that cheeseburger?
— Loyda Simpson
- Anomaly, Jonathan. 2015. “What’s Wrong With Factory Farming?.” Public Health Ethics 8, no. 3: 246-254. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost
- Parker, Christine, Josephine De Costa. 2016. “MISLEADING THE ETHICAL CONSUMER: THE REGULATION OF FREE-RANGE EGG LABELLING.” Melbourne University Law Review 895-949. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost
- Fig 1. Blindfolded woman. http://www.emaxhealth.com/8782/simple-trick-eating-less-suggested-new-study-science-eating