See part I here
99 percent of meat in the USA is factory farmed. Your burger? Yes. Your saran-wrapped chicken breasts? That, too. Panera's chicken panini? Yup. What does this mean? Read on.
When I see meat, I think of an animal being bled out before its dead.
I see a factory farm, cages so small that the animals can't even turn around (less than the size of a sheet of paper). Cages where the chicken cuts its feet or its claws grow around. Cages that let the feces from cages above, fall onto the poor being.
I see beaks being inhumanely clipped, lame animals being pushed by a tractor into their grave… or worse, not being pushed into a grave. Their life is worse than their death, almost. Downers, lame animals that can't get up, are left to rot.
When I see meat, I see slaughterhouse workers stomping on live chickens for fun (that's one of the better cases-- read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer for more details). I see loads of antibiotics, and feces with many chemicals polluting our waterways. I see foodborne illnesses, and diseases that jump species.
When I see fish, I see thousand of sea species being dragged painfully across the bottom of the ocean during a two hour trawl that collects and kills many more fish and creatures than are actually being fished for. I see fish bled out before they are dead, eyes popping out of their heads. I see a change in the food chain because we demand so many salmon, so many sea bass, that we've screwed the system up.
I see acres of land go to the production of corn to feed cows and animals for meat: cows aren't made to eat corn. That land could be used to produce more efficient food. I see herbivore animals, like cows and chickens, eat meat that is fed to them to fatten them up quickly. I see broiler chickens so breast-heavy by genetic modification (Americans like their chicken breast), that they are falling over and can't walk. They are fattened killed after 39 days. That's one month and nine days. It used to be more than twice that.
The industry changed their genetics, pushed them into tiny cages in cement barns with no ventilation or clean air to breathe, fed them food that Mother Nature didn't intend, and because of all this, they are sick animals: and the industry doesn't care. They make a buck whether the animals are well or not. To combat this illness, they are pumped with antibiotics and hormones to make them produce quicker and get them fatter quicker. That pollutes, creates resistant strains of bacteria, and causes allergies and illnesses on a large scale. On top of this, the doors are locked, the USDA, FDA and other government organizations that you would think protect us as consumers and the animals, too, do next to nothing (actually, they support factory farming in many different ways).
Disgusting and inhumane slaughterhouses that routinely contaminate literally tons of meat appear frequently in the news. Know why that is? To put it short and sweet: there's a huge concentration of SH*T on factory farms. The poor animals are buried in it. So when they get to the slaughterhouse, if one cow was contaminated with a pathogen, the sh*t gets on everything and contaminates thousands and millions of pounds of meat. It used to be that after 6 salmonella or other pathogen breakouts, the USDA shut a slaughterhouse down. Not anymore. Did you know that if you put a cow with salmonella bacteria out to pasture for just 5 days, the bacteria diminishes by 80%? What we're doing to these poor animals is not natural. So BigAg makes out like bandits, and we pay the price.
Think about this: 50 billion chickens worldwide have to go through that every year. But the price of meat hasn't gone up (with inflation) in 30 years. So to keep the prices low and give Americans what they want (which, if they really knew all that it entitles, might back off a bit), factory farming temporarily solves the problem. In the film, Food, Inc., one of the guys says: if you can't afford to eat (good) meat, don't eat it at all. I will clarify that although with my values, I don't want to eat meat and don't feel right doing it, I'm not against eating meat under the following circumstances: It is humanely and pasture-raised, taken proper care of, not fed corn (or other unnatural feed), local, sustainably produced. Reducing your consumption of meat just by a little can help a lot. Don't support factory farming.
Whether you are a carnivore or a vegan, this concerns you. It concerns us. No matter if you dislike animals and love meat, I can't imagine anyone would possibly think the treatment they receive is OK.
Do you know what's in your meat or how the animals were raised and killed?
Reading and films of interest (These are not exceptions: they are the rules):