If you really want to minimize cruelty to animals, to end their unnecessary suffering–stop telling everyone not to eat them! No, I’m totally dead serious, hear me out.
Every time I see a vegan post on FB, or a vegan article online that begs everyone reading not to eat meat because animals have feelings, are cute, etc. I cannot help but read the comments. They are either along the lines of , “yeah! That’s right! Don’t eat something with a face!” or ” I love pigs! Especially the bacon and pork chop parts!” Total polarization on the subject. Zero middle ground. Nada.
Because some people really crave meat, and some people can’t afford to get their main protein source from plants, and some people are sensitive to the phytoestrogen in soy products, and some people are kind of assholes and just don’t care that much about anyone or thing. And guess what? Telling them they are evil because of that, is going to piss them off and make them feel like eating meat just to spite you. And the likelihood that they will find that meat from a source that cares about how the animal lived and died–whether it had a good, enjoyable life or a torturous one–that likelihood is pretty damn low. So you effectively made sure not only that they ate an animal, but that they ate one who suffered needlessly.
How about instead of posting pictures and statements indicting all livestock farmers as heartless Nazis, you find a few really awesome, animal loving, meat and animal product raising farmers, and post about how great they treat their animals? Write articles about how if you are going to eat animals or animal products, how important it is to make sure they lived satisfying, full animal lives and died peacefully too, and aren’t full of chemicals and hormones and byproducts of fear. How about offering an actual solution? Because it exists.
It may not make you happy, but think of it this way: for hundreds of thousands of years, people have been killing and eating animals. Telling people to stop eating animals because it’s cruel, is like telling pigs to stop eating offal because it’s unclean. The pig doesn’t care, she wants blood to eat. The people dont care, they want meat. But hey, check it out! People are not animals, and this is the awesome part. You can actually convince them that it’s better for them to take good care of the creatures they eat, because humans have something that other animals don’t. A sense of right and wrong. And we all sense that treating animals like machines is wrong–we know it in our bones, although some can sort of shove the feeling down and keep at it to make a buck (greed is strong). We all know that even if we are going to kill and eat something, we should treat it with compassion. It’s in us, we want to, whether we can do what we want or not. But, what is not in all of us? The idea that animals are people too, and shouldn’t be eaten at all. Only a few humans have that idea or feeling. It’s not in us all. It’s not a key element of being human. And if you play to something that isn’t inherent in the human race, you will end up alienating huge segments of the population instead of spreading your message.
People are people, and people are capable of loving and eating animals all at once. And if we don’t acknowledge that and concede that there are healthy, compassionate farms with livestock that have enjoyable and peaceful lives–then we are creating a void of information that will be filled by Tyson chicken nugget commercials and vegan propaganda with no end in sight. We will lose that middle ground. Believe me, it’s already slipping away.
So how about the next time you feel disgusted with factory farming and the mistreatment of animals so entrenched in that system, write an article about how wonderful some small farms are, or post a FB status thanking a particular farmer for being good to their animals. Otherwise, honestly, you are making sure that commercial factory farming will continue without real competition for generations to come.
Need a farm or two to look at as an example of a “good farmer”? Try these!
Forks Farm met this farmer at a pastured pork workshop. He likes pigs! He wants his pigs to be comfortable, healthy and happy. Great guy!
Little Flower Farm they raise animals for their own family, as well as having shares of meat and cheese from well-cared for animals that are treated with dignity and dare I say it–love. Know them personally, and they really care about each of their animals.
Eatwell Farm Mostly a veggie farm, Eatwell also produces eggs from hens that live in hen paradise. For crying out loud, they have misters on their portable coops for those hot CA summer days, and they live on organic pasture! If I believed in reincarnation, I’d would be satisfied to be one of these hens.
Sabo Ranch Haven’t met these farmers personally, but they were very helpful when we were looking to buy our own little Jersey herd.
And last but not least:
Claravale Farm Because I happen to know the dairy manager and the owners, and they are all in it simply because they like cows. And I know for a fact that they do their best to make sure each cow is well cared for, even, occasionally, to the minor neglect of their own human families.