I have just finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s ‘Eating Animals’. The fact that it’s taken me since February to finish the 300+ page book is a testament to how confronting it is. I’ve been vegan for over a year now and this piece of non-fiction has made me absolutely sure I will never eat another animal again (or consume any product from an animal). And if you keep reading you’ll notice that it’s not worth eating them in any way.
Here are some key points that I took out of the book.
- Eating animals is awful for your health.
Let’s begin with chicken meat. The chicken served in retail stores are often still infected with E.coli (an indicator of fecal contamination) – that’s 39-75% of chickens sold. And that’s not all! 83% of chicken meat (including organic and anti-biotic brands) are infected with either campylobacter or salmonella at the time of purchase. Data shows that excess animal protein intake is linked with a few diseases including osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract and some cancers.
- Animal Agriculture is shit for the environment to.
This industry makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined. It’s the number ONE cause of climate change.
- Animals are freaking amazing.
Scientists have documented a pig language. It’s also been noted that pigs will come when called, play with toys (and have favorites) and have been observed coming to the aid of other pigs who are in distress. Sound familiar to anyone, dogs perhaps? Fish are even more incredible. They recognise one another as individuals (and keep track of who they should trust). They have significant long term memories, are skilled in passing knowledge to each other through networks and can also pass information from generation to generation.
- Many workers in factory farms treat the animals like shit.
Yes it’s awful that they kill animals in the first place, but it’s the process that goes into it before and during the slaughtering process that is truly horrifying.
There was an investigation into the systematic abuse of pigs at a farm in the US. It showed workers extinguishing cigarettes on the animals bodies, beating them with rakes & shovels, strangling them and throwing them into manure pits to drown.
The inhumane treatment of pigs on farms is common. Cows are treated just as bad. During the slaughtering process they are often still alive throughout. This means cows are bled, skinned and dismembered while their still conscious. It’s extremely common and the industry/government know about it.
- Animals do way more then they should naturally.
Chickens used for producing eggs are given 67 square inches of space (aka just under the size of an A4 piece of paper). Factory farms use light and food to moderate when and how much the chickens lay eggs. They are often starved for a bit and then forced to consume a heavy amount of food when they are wanting them to lay eggs. And no the amount of eggs they produce is not normal for them. Their meant to lay 20-30 eggs naturally each year. But industrially farmed hens lay 275 per year. Cows produce 12 times more milk than they would naturally produce to feed a calf. Imagine having your child, having it taken away from you and then having to produce a crazy amount of breast milk to feed other people.
- Animals used for food could live a lot longer.
Cattle raised for beef are still adolescents when they meet their end. At just 12-14 months they are killed and sold. If a cow was living a domestic life (meaning it’s not raised for meat or used to produce milk) they could live until the age of 20. Cows who are used for dairy will be sold to the meat trade at age 4. And other animals on factory farms aren’t given a chance to live to a ripe old age either. Baby male chicks are extremely often being killed because their not useful to the farmers.
- Factory Farms take a massive toll on the health, wellbeing and happiness of workers.
Even though it’s tough to agree with their decision to get into this line of work, their often doing it because it’s all the work they can find at the time or they don’t realise how intense the job is going to be. To hear about the hardships workers in the industry face is an angle that I hadn’t looked at previously. There is a lot of pressure and stress put on workers. They see things that they’ll never be able to un see and they can’t do anything to stop it. This includes someone in the book who mentions seeing a baby calf coming out of it’s mother while the cow is going through the slaughtering machines. It doesn’t sound like factory farms are good for anyone.
If you are vegetarian or vegan or are thinking of making the transition I encourage you to (along with documentaries like ‘Earthlings’ and ‘Cowspiracy’ and youtube video’s from activists) read this book. It’s insightful, detailed and looks at the industry from every angle. I would even encourage people who are determined to stay animal eaters to read this book, and I dare you to want to support this horrific industry any longer.
This blog is where I (Emily Simpson) express my thoughts, share the things that bring me joy, give awareness to causes that are dear to me and try to inspire others
to live simply and consciously.