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Responding to ‘The myth of humane slaughter’

March 8, 2012

Most people agree that “humane slaughter” does not exist. For centuries, animal slaughter has been hideously brutal. With agri-business’ hostile takeover of family farming, factory farming practices have viciously escalated and expanded the unspeakable cruelty to which slaughter animals are subjected. There is very little hope of eliminating animal slaughter in the foreseeable future, and whatever relief measures are available need to be enacted now.

Temple Grandin never claimed that her livestock handling methods transformed slaughtering into a benign process. But her ideas and designs have helped to significantly reduce the pain and suffering of animals already ensnared in this brutal slaughtering system. Doing nothing gives the factory farm food industry free rein to continue their unconscionable abusive practices in their rapacious quest of more profit.

Don’t let this happen. Requiring the Liberty slaughterhouse project to comply with Temple Grandin’s methods will bring some relief to the animals and prevent yet another unfettered, abusive slaughter operation setting up in Sullivan County.

Star D. Hesse
Narrowsburg, NY

Star Hesse, Animal Activist

Star Hesse, Animal Activist -- you're pretty quiet here. You took the time to write a Letter to the Editor. It would be appropriate if you also took the time to tell us your thoughts on the comments to your letter.

Will they have glass walls?

Actually I think it is more the case that most people are happy to be lulled into a sense of reassurance and guiltlessness by the notion of "humane" treatment and killing. They easily buy it without question or knowledge of what either traditional or Temple Grandin-type treatment looks like. Both scenarios are disgusting and traumatic to bear witness to -- unacceptable to anyone with a heart.

How can those of us in the caring 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 tours, so that people can see what the real truth of "less brutal" looks like? And what about the quality of life, or lack thereof, for these animals before they go to the slaughterhouse?

I don't really care about

I don't really care about slaughter house practices as even the most humane slaughter house is still a slaughter house and people have to eat. But I saw a segment on ABC last night about "pink slime" which is basically a filler made out of left over junk that is run through a centrifuge and added to ground beef. Now that is heinous. You think you are buying ground beef and up to half of it is "connective tissue". Disgusting.

More than just moral issues at stake

It's strange how one reacts to the adding of pink slime to ground animal flesh as "heinous", but has no emotion for the acts committed against the animals themselves.

Yes people have to eat, but animal protein is not only NOT necessary for human health, it is deleterious. Newsflash -- a vegan diet is the healthiest diet around.

It's too bad you missed tv shows like Sanjay Gupta talking to Bill Clinton, Dr. Esselsytn, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Barnard, etc. Even Mike Tyson, in an incredible overall transformation, has gone vegan. You have a right to your heartless and unprogressive attitudes, but know that it will drag everyone else who is concerned and caring, down with you. And I don't take kindly to that.

There's more than just moral issues about the worldwide holocaust of 56 billion animals (not including marine) a year at stake here. It is a very dark and oppressive existence for the human labor involved, both physically and emotionally. They are treated very demeaningly by their employers -- in many ways like the animals themselves. This affects families, and the whole community. Animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to global warming. All pandemics have come about from the way we have changed how animals live -- and we are overdue for one. Scientists say that it's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when". (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRk-NTa7KXo) Bird flu and swine flu scares were just a dress rehearsal. Poisoning of our land and water from toxic runoff. The oceans are being raped and will be barren in a few decades. Wasted energy resources, world starvation. Human suffering from diet-related diseases and an increasing public health crisis, and the burden on health care services and health insurance. The list goes on and on. What we do to the animals we do to ourselves. That's just not some poetic karma-type prediction. It's the present, plain-to-see truth.

I implore anyone reading this who shares these antiquated attitudes about animals, to please reconsider -- for the sake of yourselves, your children and their children. Stop enabling this diabolical system with your purchasing power and unhealthy, selfish palates. Go vegan -- you will be pleasantly surprised at the plethora of delicious recipes that can be made from beautiful fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. Your body and soul will thank you. "While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth? - George Bernard Shaw

If you are shocked about "pink slime", that is just one new revelation in a myriad of unhealthful things about butchered and bloody animal flesh, eggs, and pasteurized or raw dairy. How about some yummy salmonella, e. coli, campylobacter, staphylococcus aureus, yersinia, brucella, coxiella and listeria, pus, cancer-promoting hormones both natural and injected, antibiotics, mad-cow disease which by the way can mimic Alzheimers? I think you must be pretty naiive about the wholesomeness of animal products in general. Keep your blinders on Marj, and may I suggest switching to chicken --

The following is an excerpt from this link:

"- Chickens are genetically engineered and fed drug-laced food to “grow big fast on as little feed as possible,” resulting in obscenely top-heavy birds that walk with difficulty and can’t reproduce.

- The birds, tens of thousands of which are housed in a single room each with about a printer paper-sized amount of space, develop deformities, injuries, and infections. (As Foer puts it: “Needless to say, jamming deformed, drugged, overstressed birds together in a filthy, waste-coated room is not very healthy.”)

- More than 95 percent of chickens become infected with E. coli, “an indicator of fecal contamination.”

- About 30 percent (that is, more than one in four) “of all live birds arriving at the slaughterhouse have freshly broken bones as a result of their Frankenstein genetics and rough handling.”

- The United States Department of Agriculture interprets the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to exempt chicken slaughter, which is obvious when considering the way chickens are “processed.”

- The live birds are pulled through an electrified water bath that uses only enough voltage to immobilize them, but not to render them unconscious. (Only about one-tenth the level of voltage necessary to leave the animals fully unconscious is used).

- Both automated throat-slitters and human backups are utilized to kill the birds. However, often one or both fail, resulting in about 180 million chickens a year that are improperly slaughtered.

- Automatic eviscerators slit open the dead chickens and remove their guts. However, the “high-speed machines commonly rip open intestines, releasing feces into the birds’ body cavities.” In response, “the poultry industry convinced the USDA to reclassify feces” so that it is now deemed a “cosmetic blemish,” and isn’t considered cause to condemn a bird that has been contaminated with it.

- The birds are inspected by USDA officials who have about two seconds to examine each of the 25,000 birds they see a day, inside and out. Foer quotes Scott Bronstein of the Atlantic Journal-Constitution, who conducted a lengthy investigation of poultry inspection: “Every week millions of chickens leaking yellow pus, stained by green feces, contaminated by harmful bacteria, or marred by lung and heart infections, cancerous tumors, or skin conditions are shipped for sale to consumers.”

- At the end of processing, the chickens are cooled en masse in a giant refrigerated tank of “fouled, chlorinated water” that some, like industry expert Tom Devine, call “fecal soup,” on account of “all the filth and bacteria floating around.” This system “practically assur[es] cross-contamination.” Though air-chilling systems are available and used throughout Europe and Canada, water-cooling systems are preferred (and deemed legal) in the US because they enable the dead birds to soak up the water (the “fecal soup”) and increase their weight. Foer asserts that the poultry industry treats the water-cooling systems as an opportunity to “turn wastewater into tens of millions of dollars’ worth of additional weight in poultry products.”

Or, fish: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/23/jonathan-safran-foer-f....

For those that care, here are some other suggested informative sites:


Sounds like more of an over

Sounds like more of an over population problem than a diet issue. Tying employee abuse to meat consumption is cute because migrant workers picking heads of lettuce love life. Get over yourself already. Why is it moral to kill plants and not animals? Is it OK to swat a blood sucking fly? When is God going to explain to the wolf that tearing the hind quarters out of a living deer is unethical? The city in which you live is doing more harm to the planet than every slaughter house on the globe combined.


I guess the concept of ahimsa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa) is not something you have heard of, or would even consider that humans are capable of aspiring to wherever possible?

And I'm not clear on what you mean by "The city in which you live is doing more harm to the planet than every slaughter house on the globe combined". Please elaborate?

What do you mean by "get over myself?"

Finally, what DO you care about?


Farms raise animals that in turn yield food products such as milk, eggs, and meat. Farms are great for families and the economy and farmers deserve every red cent they earn for their work. What do you propose we do with an old dairy cow? Let it die of natural causes, drag it out back and let the maggots and vultures gorge themselves? What's that paying? Sorry little Suzy, no Christmas this year cause the unenlightened meat consuming vultures didn't pay $1.50/lb. This kind of thinking is a cancer that has stricken our country. It makes my blood boil when I see an animal shelter collection jar actually has money in it when it sits right next to a St. Jude's children's hospital collection jar. Oh hey, I only eat vegetables so no animals suffer other than, you know, the ones that are displaced by their habitat being turned into a crop field laced with insecticides and fertilizer and maybe a few that get run over as the tofu truck pulls into town, so basically I have a clear conscience. Where does my garbage and sewage go, you ask. Out of sight out of mind. Where does my electricity and plastic for my keyboard come from? Don't know and don't care, but I am certain no animals were harmed in the process. A slaughter house comes to town providing an actual product and jobs and a market for farmers and I just can't abide by that. I'm going to convince 7 billion people to quit eating meat and everyone will be happy.

Thank you Marj, now I see

Thank you Marj, now I see more clearly the small-minded and visionless place you are coming from. You basically make the case of why institutionally condoned slavery in the past should have continued, and why, in its subversive forms today (i.e., child slavery, sex slavery, etc.) it should still continue. What other bigotries do you harbor? Money drives ethics, how original, how profound, what else is new? Steal and exploit, dehumanize and commoditize whether it's human or animal -- as long as its personally profitable, or good for the economy, it's okay. Well I've got news for you, it's not even good for the economy, because when money drives ethics it usually comes back to haunt.

Yes, if this "cancer" as you call it continues to spread, those concentration camp numbered units of production for you, those sentient beings for me -- will no longer exist. Society will morph and those human workers will be able to find other, dignified employment. Farmers can continue to farm, putting their energies into growing life and health affirming plant foods. Water and energy resources will be conserved. Everything will be ingeniously designed. We are an ingenious species not yet at its full potential, but given the luxury of time, I believe we will. We do not need to domesticate, breed and kill animals anymore, not in most parts of the world. It is cowardly and degenerate ... beneath us. So bring that cancer on. The animals will, in some form, be freed, either by the "cancer" of slow social enlightment, or the madness and mayhem of a virulent pandemic. And why aren't you concerned about the literal cancers and diseases that are caused by animal consumption? If you feel nothing for animals, then at least where is your compassion for humans? You make no sense Marj. You probably sneer at Howard Lyman, "The Mad Cowboy". I think you are just afraid of progress and new ideas. I think you are convoluted and don't read very much. I think they got to you when you were a child and stole something precious from you. Well at least read this moving story of a former pig farmer who now grows broccoli instead: http://www.johnrobbins.info/blog/the-pig-farmer/.

Why do you hate animals so much? Do you hate companion animals too? Do you abide by puppy mills, seal slaughter, anal electrocution and flaying animals alive for their fur ... the endless array? Are you a sadist? Do you defend Michael Vick? Are you a moral schizophrenic?

Are you so insecure about your place in the world that you need to devalue animals in order to exalt yourself as a human? Do you put down the men, women, or children in your life too? Why can't a donation jar for an animal shelter be right next to one for a children's hospital? I think it is quite appropriate -- they are both innocent and need help equally. I applaud the elevated consciousness of the person that put those jars together. There is no need to make a priority list, or elect oneself supreme judge of what causes are more important than others, and as you would do, assign zero to animals. The world is a mess, and empathy, compassion and humility is needed everywhere. And animal justice activists are not one-issue people ... on the contrary we are progressive humanists acutely aware of the connectivity of everything, just trying to make the world a more joyful, non-violent place for all beings.

I dream of a day when it will be commonly realized that our behavior toward animals is the moral baseline from which all other human behavior springs. Subjugation of humans, or animals, as property, is going to take us down. You can continue to "hang back with the brutes" and stay frozen in your antiquated, loveless sea of ideas, but my bet ... my hope ... and the hope of a continuing stream of new people coming to higher consciousness, is that mentalities like yours are on their way out. Already, in this country, meat and dairy sales are down. http://data360.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/have-we-passed-peak-meat-us-meat.... And the animal justice movement is growing faster than all previous social justice movements.

So bring that cancer on.

Quite blind, I assure you.

Cats and humans need help equally? Shameful. You just don't live in reality. The only moral thing to do is empty the kitty jar funds into the kids with cancer jar and replace the kitty money with a sprinkling of bullets. Your kind will never survive.

It's a disturbingly sad

It's a disturbingly sad commentary on humanity when we view a sensient creature who was given life by God as a value only in terms of $1.50 per pound.

Yes, the dairy cow should be taken care of and allowed to live out her life which would probably be 20 or so years. If she develops maggots it's owner of the cow's responsibililty to provide veterinary care.

As easily as a "slaugher house" is considered by you a wonderful boon for job creation, why couldn't a large scale vegetable production facility be the source of jobs as well? More and more people are realizing that a plant based diet is the optimum (as reported on CNN by Sanjay Gupta, M.D.)

Plants do not form attachments and relationships with other plants,(as animals do)nor do they give birth to helpless crying infants who need their milk.

BTW have you ever seen a mother cow cry all night because they ripped away her baby calf just because we humans haven't learned that cow's milk is meant for baby calves? If you don't think cows have feelings and cry for their babies, just go to youtube and check that out. Additionally, anyone who buys milk supports the horrific slaughter of baby calves used as veal.

In response to your boiling blood comment, It makes my blood "boil" to think there are heartless people like yourself who see no value to saving the lives of innocent beings who have not asked to be created for your use. What's more I am truly thankful there are people who contribute to animal shelters as well as to children's causes because they evolved enough to recognize the helplessness of both.

And by the way, I would slap a mosquito dead if he's about to harm me by sucking my blood, and I would shoot a predatory animal hell bent on tearing me apart. When there's a need, there's a need.

Our kind will do more than survive. We will open the hearts of others instead of following custom, as you have.

Silly not sad

If it weren't for slaughter houses, cattle would not be raised. Herds and eventually the entire species would enter into oblivion. I have seen cows bawl for their calves (not baby calves) and I have seen them abandon them. I have seen cats eat their young and rape them. No one understands fully the relationships between plants so some assume there is none just as they assume animals are capable of human emotions. Have you ever seen a child dying of cancer? Survival is my custom, not weakness and misplaced sympathy. It's too costly.

Article: The Human Cost of Animal Suffering

by Mark Bittman

The New York Times
March 13, 2012


-- "Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money." -- Nineteenth century Nēhilawē (Cree) proverb


Here we go again with all the typically illogical and juvenile retorts. Oh yes, praise the magnanimous nature of humans to ensure the perpetuation of animal species by stealing, enslaving, breeding and genetically manipulating them in the billions to be killed for food. That really makes sense. Make no mention of the fact that we stole them from their natural habitats in the first place, deprived them of all their natural behaviors, and genetically bred all their biodiversity out of them. Oblivion for them? One can only hope. I would rather see them not exist than be subject to the likes of you.

I know that humans abandon, or kill their own children. I know that humans rape other humans. I know that cannibals, and serial killers eat other humans. I know that humans commit genocide. I know that humans torture other humans. I also know that most of these are a male gender thing, including crimes against animals. So what is your point? Non-human animals are exempt from moral judgment, there is no guile, they are innocent in their behavior. Humans are another story, we are endowed with the phenomenon of knowing right from wrong with respect to own personal, as well as collective behavior.

Get off the plants-feel-pain-too bit already. You're reaching for straws in your attempt to defend animal slaughter. No one seriously believes that the experience of a plant with no central nervous system can be similarly compared to the experience of an animal with a complex central nervous system. Otherwise we'd be feeling guilty about mowing our lawns. I'll give you this -- we do have to eat, and if it could be proven that plants do experience something that we should feel guilty about, then I would say well we have no choice and should find a way to mitigate their pain. We do have a choice to not harm the creatures that we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, suffer like we do. Biblically speaking, and since you like to invoke "Gd" to justify your claims, may I remind you of Genesis 1:29 where plants were the only food intended for our (and I believe other species) sustenance:
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food."

Most animals clearly exhibit emotion, for their own species, or other species, including obviously humans. I'm not even going to elaborate on that ... anyone who has observed animals on a farm, or in the wild, or has owned a pet knows this. You'd have to have ice in your veins to refute that.

Yes I've seen children dying of cancer. I've also seen teenagers, men and women in the prime of their lives, and older people dying of cancer -- at Memorial Sloan Kettering, where I was bilaterally cut and chemo'd for stage 2B breast cancer. And by the way, the reason I got cancer was because of my meat, dairy & egg consumption, and the reason I am still cancer-free 14 years later is because I am vegan. And why your particular focus on children? We all age, but the innocence of the inner-child is still inside of us, it doesn't take much to find it (you should try it). So every story is tragic for the person it's happening to at any age, and their loved ones. And if you Really cared about children, you would not be the advocate for animal consumption, or violence toward innocent creatures that you are.

You believe that to value animals is to devalue humans. But moral valuation is not a zero-sum game. It is not as though there are only so many rights to distribute, so that if we afford rights to some we have to take them away from others. Claiming that animals have rights does not mean that humans don’t have rights or have fewer rights.

As far as survival, and weakness and misplaced sympathy being too costly goes, you are in the dark ages with your information. For starters, read "Environmental Implications of the Global Demand for Red Meat -- The destruction of animal biodiversity: http://sites.google.com/site/redmeatimplications/degradation/loss-of-bio.... This system that you support is anti-survival. Your so-called weakness and misplaced sympathy are just rubbish spewed from an insecure, macho hick, and is costing, only to get worse. Humility and compassion -- those godly virtues -- are our last chance for survival ... you should try some.

Hypocrisy must be its own

Hypocrisy must be its own reward. I will strive to free plants from your wretched tyranny even if it means destroying them all!! and so on and so forth.


Really? Are you serious?

We know animals feel pain and fear, suffer, nurture young, etc. Animals have central nervous systems...just like we do. This was all addressed in previous posts, which you are so conveniently ignoring. Are you even reading them?

To use the argument that plants need to be "free from your wretched tyranny" is lame, at best.

Animals eat plants. So if you eat animals you are taking the "lives" of both.

Let me see if I understand you correctly - you're saying that we should continue to eat animals (who we know suffer, etc.) because there's a remote possibility that plants MAY suffer? So let's not do ANYTHING then. Yeah...that makes sense. (sarcasm...just in case you didn't catch it.)

Since we know what we know about animals and plants, and we need to eat to survive, wouldn't the highest ethic be to cause the LEAST amount of suffering? We can't be perfect no matter how hard we try, but we can each strive to as much as is possible to reduce suffering.

I wish you all the best and truly hope you can at least begin to view your arguments in the light of an open mind. I, too, once held some of the same views you do, but I realized that those views were not reasons to continue doing what I had always done - they were excuses.

Sarcasm is an old friend

I believe it is you that has trouble grasping sarcasm. Why don't we just wear solar panels on our shoulders?