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A Pinnacle of Perversion
“When living creatures are treated like nothing more than widgets in a factory”
Julie shared with us that many of her restaurant customers have given up or significantly reduced their meat consumption in the last few years because of their humane concern for animals.
Eighty billion animals are slaughtered around the world each year for human consumption including nine billion chickens across the 'Feather Belt' that stretches from Arkansas to Georgia.
Every hour, roughly one million animals are slaughtered for food in the United States. And very unlike the farms of yesteryear, where animals roamed freely, today the vast majority of farm animals are products of factory farms where they are inhumanely crammed into small cages in gruesome conditions. They can barely move and are fed a diet tainted with pesticides and antibiotics.
Alarmingly, these massive operations serve as giant petri dishes for powerful viruses, where genetically identical animals facilitate the rapid spread of disease — as lack of genetic diversity removes natural immunological firebreaks. And as a result, factory farms provide optimal conditions for selecting for the most dangerous pathogens.
“When living creatures are treated like nothing more than widgets in a factory, the industrial system has reached a pinnacle of perversion. These animals spend their entire lives in crates or stalls so small that they can’t even turn around! Newly hatched chicks get shipped by the thousands — through the mail — and many arrive dead, especially whenever there is a Postal Service slowdown. Astonishingly, farmed animals are not protected from cruelty under the law — in fact, the majority of state anticruelty laws specifically exempt farm animals from basic humane protection!”
While animal products provide only about 18% of calories worldwide, they take up 80% of the world's farmlands.
Eating vegetables, grains and fruits in place of the 200 pounds of beef, chicken, and fish each non-vegetarian eats annually would cut individual food bills by several thousand dollars a year — a number that is sure to rise rapidly as meat becomes more expensive from more people adopting meat-heavy middle-class diets while resource shortages and environmental protection pressures mount.
Indeed, the production of meat requires a tremendous investment of resources. It concentrates a massive amount of raw materials into a relatively tiny final product.
A whopping 30 percent of fresh water used by humans is spent in the production, maintenance, and slaughter of meat animals. And medicines are administered in vast quantities.
A full two-thirds of the antibiotics used in the United States are fed to meat animals to promote growth and decrease mortality. But most of those simply pass through unabsorbed and then into the runoff that leaves the farm and works its way into the broader environment.
More than 60 billion bushels of grain are fed to meat animals every single year.
Sooner or later, Julie warned, we will have to come to grips with the fact that we lose around 90 percent of the grain we feed to animals — grain that could be used to feed people — in exchange for a little meat and mountains of manure.
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