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In defense of the slaughterhouse

March 15, 2012

I respectfully disagree with two recent letters criticizing the proposed slaughterhouse in Liberty. While you have indeed painted an accurate picture of the realities of corporate agriculture today, and the vegan lifestyle is inarguably better for one’s health (assuming you eat organic), I take a different approach.

The argument that raising animals for food is amoral will never be successful. It is as natural for humans as for any carnivore to eat meat. What we can aspire to change is the method, which under corporate management has become one of our greatest environmental, health and moral failures. In pursuit of profits we have created monocultures of “Franken” farm animals, designed to live fast and die young under abhorrent conditions requiring copious quantities of antibiotics, fast tracking the evolution of zoonotic pathogens which threaten not only human health, but could very well lead to the extinction of our food animals. Therefore, the future of livestock and poultry survival lies with small farmers raising genetically diverse heritage breeds for increasingly food-savvy consumers. Given this reality, wouldn’t efforts to support smaller local farms be more effective in the cause for animal welfare than simply refusing to participate?

Here’s where a local slaughterhouse comes in. It will save our farmers transportation costs, and make our area more attractive to new farmers. Every animal raised locally, rather than on a factory farm, is a victory for human health and animal welfare. This will now be enhanced by the fact that these animals will no longer face a two-hour-plus trip to their final destination.

Temple Grandin is a genius whose disability gives her unique insight into the minds of animals. Anyone who takes the time to familiarize themselves with her work will quickly reach the same conclusion. It is hard to imagine another person who has done more to increase animal welfare, and we would be wise to incorporate her ideas going forward, for the animals.

Jennifer Young
Bethel, NY

On Temple Grandin being a genius

Jennifer -- I have perused Temple Grandin's website as you (or someone else has asked me to). Have you looked at the documentary I asked you to?

Additionally, pleased read this and be sure to watch the video within it.

A Request

To watch the full 90 minutes of the following documentary without running out of the room:


To think about this issue deeper than you have ever thought about it by perusing this website (or reading the book):

"In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they're the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought." Isaac Bashevis Singer, author, Nobel Prize 1978

pass the CAFOs

I would argue that the vegan lifestyle is not "inarguably" better, healthier, or intrinsically moral. Maybe we should stop to ask ourselves why meat tastes so good. I gorged myself on corned beef and cabbage yesterday and savored every second of it. Is it some sort of evolutionary prank? Or is it possible that a good taste and smell are an evolutionary reward for making decisions that bring large quantities of protein into one's diet?

Sure we could all go back to slaughtering our own chickens in the back yard and I believe everyone who enjoys meat should do at least one to appreciate what it takes to put a meal on the table, but that is time consuming and we live in an industrialized society, don't we? Quite frankly we don't have time and there are people that specialize in it and are much better at it. I personally lament the loss of our family farms especially to this type of nonsense. Ask a starving kid in Africa if he is too good to eat a juicy steak or if he would rather eat a granola bar.

It is my understanding that as developing countries form middle classes, the demand for meat products and particularly beef increases as these products were once out of poor peoples means. As population increases, demand for fuel and meat will also increase and that is an inevitable reality we must plan on.

Local Doesn't Mean Safe or Better

The idea that local operations are much more humane than larger operation is a false one. For example, take a look at the DEC map of CAFOs in NYS:

Many of these operations are not required to produce an environmental impact statement:

Imagine the further impact of processing these creatures.

Rather than supporting an industry that has demonstrated over and over again how dangerous it is for every single being surrounding it, we should be discouraging them.

Here is more information on the CAFOs issue:

In Defense of both Animals and Humans

Where can I buy that crystal ball so many of you here have that enables you to use the word “never” and speak for others instead of just speaking for yourselves. Just because you are of the opinion that changing consciousness about the morality of animal commodification will never be successful does not make it so. On the contrary, because of the continuing reports in mainstream media of food-borne illnesses and recalls, along with the internet availability and airing of graphic factory farm and slaughterhouse footage, people are disturbed – a good thing – and slowly-but-surely thinking more deeply about what our relationships with animals should be, not based on the past, but now in the 21st century. I emphasize, the 21st century.

Slaughter not wrong? Would you then have no problem with your kids getting jobs on the killing floor or hacking up carcasses in this, another hell on earth, state-of-the-art murder operation that’s being proposed? And why, if it’s moral, is there so much cloaking and secrecy by the industry? Why the intimidation of animal activists who want to educate the public? Why, if it’s so moral, do you suppose so many people turn a blind cowardly eye toward watching footage? As long as someone else is doing the dirty deeds and its-out of-sight-out-of mind that makes it okay? Please, most people have a viscerally horrified reaction, that really is the litmus test of whether its moral or not.

Which brings me to ask, why isn’t anyone asking for this operation to open up its doors for full scrutiny? Why is everybody so quick to happily accept that it’s a “humane” slaughterhouse and not ask any other questions? How can those of us in the concerned public, be reassured that the animals are indeed being killed less brutally? Why should we take their word for it? Shouldn't we also be demanding full uncensored transparency, i.e., reporting and filming of what goes on, or even public tours, so that it can be shown what the real truth of "less brutal" looks like? What about the issues like sanitation of pus and feces, or the mixing together of ground flesh from different animals? Mad cow disease? And what about the quality of life, or lack thereof, for these animals before they go to the slaughterhouse?

As far as meat-eating being “natural”, Melanie Joy, author of "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism: The Belief System That Enables Us to Eat Some Animals and Not Others" says it best -- "Most of us believe that eating meat is natural because humans have hunted and consumed animals for millennia. And it is true that we have been eating meat as part of an omnivorous diet for at least two million years (though for the majority of this time our diet was still primarily vegetarian). But to be fair, we must acknowledge that infanticide, murder, rape, and cannibalism are at least as old as meat eating, and are therefore arguably as 'natural'--and yet we don't invoke the history of these acts as justification for them. As with other acts of violence, when it comes to eating meat, we must differentiate between natural and justifiable.”

As far as your question: “Wouldn’t efforts to support smaller local farms be more effective in the cause for animal welfare than simply refusing to participate?” My opinion is that there will be a pandemic before that ever materializes. Experts like Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States, are saying that it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when … that we are overdue. And with 7 billion people on this planet, I don’t see how small local farms are viable.

Yes, I believe that refusing to participate is the only way to go, if we are to save ourselves. Let’s aim higher by embracing veganism and stop settling for the hellish sham that welfarism is.

And please, anyone who knows anything about history, should shudder at the use of the words “transported to their final destination”. May I recommend a book/website called "Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust", by Charles Patterson. Or, I hope you can see the incarnation of Temple Grandin that is there.