Vegetarianism - To Meat Or Not To Meat

As children, one of the first things we learn is to recognize the
friendly barnyard
animals. We easily can spot the furry cow with the gentle eyes, the
feathery chickens
who run wildly about, and the pink pigs that roll in the mud. We may
also sing about that
nice farmer, Old McDonald, and all of his nice animals. The truth is
that Old McDonald
with a straw hat has been replaced by a business man in the hard hat.
Ninety-five percent of the meat we eat does not come from Old
McDonald\'s farm.
Hens, chickens, turkeys, and over half of beef cattle, dairy cows, and
pigs come from an
"animal factory" (Sussman, 95) which is a mechanized environment. This
new farming
method finds blue skies, tall silos, and grassy hillsides good for
calendars but, bad for
business. Those pictures are not cost effective. Animals are not
treated with the loving
care of a farmer but, are treated like inmates on death row.
Poultry, pigs, and calves are forced to live in total confinement
never to see the
light of day until they head to the slaughter house. Hens are frequently
crowded into
small cages which they may not leave for a year or two. Pregnant sows
are often put in
stalls that are their homes for three months at a time. After having her
piglets, a sow may
be pinned to the floor for four to seven weeks in order to keep the sow
from rolling over
on her babies. Cows may be fed steady diet of molasses laced saw dust,
newspaper, plastic pellets, poultry manure, and processed slaughter house
wastes in order
to gain weight faster. Confinement is so complete that the animals do
not have room to
move (206).
Not only are the animals forced to live in this unnatural
environment, they are
also pumped full off antibiotics, hormones, steroids, and are dipped in
pesticides. Over
half the cattle and nearly all pigs, calves, and poultry are fed a steady
diet of antibiotics
and related

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medications to help control diseases. No one is sure what the long term
side effects may
be for people who consume these meat and dairy products (145).
Have you ever seen a big rig driving down a highway hauling
cattle? A trucker
hauling livestock can legally drive two to three days nonstop leaving the
without food or water. Truckers who do stop to rest or water their cargo
do so because
they choose to, not because the law requires it . It is not surprising
that much livestock is
driven through days of suffocating heat and below zero nights uncared
for, crowded, and
sometimes literally frightened to death. Some of the animals arriving
alive at the
slaughter house have broken limbs or other injuries due to crowding and
piling. At the
journey\'s end the cattle are already confused and frightened at their
treatment and strange
surroundings. Now they must be sent through such procedures such as
dehorning, branding, and injections and various chemicals (Null, 86-87).
The four slaughtering methods the government has declared humane
are captive
bolt, carbon dioxide, electrical stunning, and gunshot. The methods were
devised from
the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958. The Act says that all livestock must
be unconscience
before slaughtering. Unfortunately, the act has not provisions for
punishment of those
who choose to use an inhumane slaughtering technique (Sussman, 223).
Captive bolt gun, which is usually used on cattle, uses
compressed air or blank
cartridges. The device fires a thick bolt into the animals\' forehead.
Some bolts are
designed to stun the animal by concussion rather than penetration of the
Carbon dioxide is used on swine and sometimes sheep and calves.
The animals
ride on a conveyor belt into a pit filled with 65-75% concentration on
carbon dioxide.
The gas causes the animals to become unconscience.
The electric stunner is handled by a packing house worker on any
kind of animal.
The stunners are shoved against the animal, shocking it into
insensibility. If not handled
correctly, the electical stunner can cause temporary paralyzation.

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The gunshot method is preferred among small operations and most
farmers. A
.22 or .38 caliber bullet is shot into the animals brain. Unfortunately,
if the animal
moves it\'s head at the wrong time, the bullet can miss the desired spot
causing the animal
to bleed in agony until another bullet is fired (224-226).
Chickens continue to be treated like dumb birds. In large
poultry packing houses,
birds are attached by their feet