In my years as a non-judgemental vegetarian, and more recently vegan, I have often heard people voluntarily defend their right to eat meat. The most common quote being: “But farmed animals are slaughtered humanely”.
For some reason this statement has always completely and utterly baffled me.
How can the words ‘humane’ and ‘slaughter’ ever be used in the same sentence?
Do people really believe that animals ‘give’ their lives to become someone’s dinner? If they do, then perhaps they would not mind visiting a slaughterhouse and taking their kids along too, for a fun and educational family day out.
Perhaps they would be able to stomach the sight of the struggling, terrified animal being forced along the chute towards his death, with the blood of his friend trickling past his feet and the smell of fear and death in his nostrils. Perhaps they wouldn’t mind sharing a ride with the other animals on the filthy, overcrowded slaughter truck. “All aboard the slaughter truck! Such a happy place!”
There is a very good reason why, in most cases, you cannot get permission to watch the slaughter process. It would completely destroy your image of happy farm animals receiving a quick and painless death and might interfere with the enjoyment of your next meal.
But I digress. I do NOT believe that meat eaters are bad people. I used to be one myself and my own family eats meat and I love them dearly. But would they still eat meat if they had been forced to watch the killing, let alone carry it out themselves? I know for a fact that many couldn’t. So why are we happy to pay other people to do the dirty work for us? Doesn’t this mean we are condoning animal suffering? Supporting it? And for what? Something that we happen to like the taste of?
We all accept that animals are capable of pain, fear and suffering. Why else would we happily pay the huge vet bills that come with having companion animals? Why, then, do we choose to pamper some animals while turning a blind eye to the suffering of the animals destined for our dinner plate?
When faced with this question I have often heard the reply, “But farm animals are bred for that purpose and don’t know any better”. Imagine breeding dogs for food and attempting to use the same logic.
In New Zealand alone we slaughter around 318,000 animals EVERY SINGLE DAY.
That’s not counting fish and the three million day-old male chicks we mince alive every year simply because they were born the wrong sex and cannot produce eggs. If we were caught mincing alive a day-old puppy or kitten we would be prosecuted! And rightfully so! But for farmers it seems there is a different set of rules.
It’s all too easy to forget that the neatly packaged, cellophane-wrapped chicken breast from the supermarket was ever part of a living, breathing animal. In New Zealand alone we slaughter nearly 90 million broilers (meat chickens) every single year. That’s a big chicken habit!
The fact is that humans don’t need meat for good health and we choose to eat animals predominantly because we like the taste of them.
I know there will be hunters and hobby farmers reading this who will no doubt defend their choice to kill animals for food, using the logic that the animals lead a happy life and were slaughtered ‘humanely’.
But if killing animals is a choice, aren’t we forgetting someone?
The only truly cruelty-free option is to go vegan, or start by going meat-free. Check out our 30 day Go Veg challenge to find just how tasty it can be.
National Volunteer Coordinator