Meat was my favourite food until something happened when I was three years old. I never knew that some of the cherished food could not be obtained without killing something until I found our farm boy slaughtering a hen. That day I begged Eric to spare the chicken but he could not hear my pleas. To make matters worse, he revealed to me that there was a life lost every time we ate meat. Since that day, no meat product has ever crossed my lips.
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Food production is a major industry in the US. The ever increasing population provides ready market for the industry. While many businesses flourish as a result of high demand for food, there is another side of the story that few people dare talk about. As Landa observes (185), most people never think about the channels that food go through before being served on dining tables. Landa claims that almost all dinner occasions involve animal products (186).
There have been questions regarding the kind of experience that animals go through as result of human food production. In this regard, some people have claimed that food manufacturing exposes animals to undeserved suffering (Land, 187). In addition to forming animal rights movements, some people have become strict vegetarians to ensure that animals enjoy their right to life. On the other hand, there are individuals who believe that the experience animals go through as a result of food manufacturing is natural and cannot be avoided. Unfortunately, as this debate goes on, animals continue to suffer at the hands of ruthless meat eaters and unscrupulous businessmen. This discussion has been around for quite some time and should not be allowed to continue.
This paper discusses the kind of suffering that animals go through as a result of human food production. The paper aims at proposing a practical and lasting solution.
While most people dismiss animal rights campaign, analysis of food production processes and consumption reveals that animals go through humiliating experience that should not be allowed in a moral society.
In the US, 10 billion domestic animals lose lives every year due to extraction of food products such as meat, eggs and milk among other things (Landa 186). These products are sold both in the US and on international markets. Wollan points out in Meatpaper Magazine that in 2007, Ghana imported 16,100 tons of chicken meat from the US. The meat mainly comprised of chicken legs. Other parts like breast and thighs were exported to more advanced markets such as Russia and Britain. Wollan describes exportation of separated chicken parts as migration of birds in parts.
Tyson Foods is one of the most popular chicken exporting companies in the US. The company exports chicken products worth billions of dollars each year. Some of the most notorious importers of US chicken meat include China, India and Russia. It should be noted that meat consumption is not limited to chicken. Other animals that lose lives due to man’s appetite for animal products include cattle, pigs, goats and sheep. Apart from losing lives, animals also suffer in several other ways as discussed below.
Increase in demand is always a blessing to producers. In this regard, when demand goes up, producers strive to increase production for two reasons. The first and obvious reason is to make more profits. The second reason is to avoid inconveniencing and disappointing their customers. Unfortunately, as Hewson notes (496), most producers strive to increase output without putting necessary measures in place. In the case of animal products, farmers end up crowding thousands of animals in tiny sheds that are poorly ventilated. Hewson observes that some animals never see the outside world until the day they are transported to slaughterhouses (497). According to Hewson (497), staying in a smelly and poorly ventilated room can never be comfortable even to the most insensitive beings. Animals, just like human beings, were created to live in a flexible environment. Researchers have shown that some animals such as pigs and cows have cognitive abilities and can suffer mental trauma if exposed to unfriendly environment (Hewson 498). Hewson suggests that entrepreneurs should remain sensitive to the welfare of animals as they pursue more profits (499).
Animals are social creatures that enjoy spending time in groups (Balcombe 3). They make friendship and play with each other. Balcombe notes that animals hold grudges and get frustrated (4). In addition, most of them love to watch their young ones play and grow. However, Balcombe claims that modern farming practices have changed everything (5). Cows are separated from their calves right from the day of delivery. In this regard, Balcombe argues that animals ought to be given a chance to live their natural lives (6).
The need to improve productivity has attracted a lot of research in the field of Agriculture (Landa 187). Some of the methods used include cross-breeding aimed at improving milk production and genetic modifications aimed at increasing growth rates in meat animals. Unfortunately, some of these methods have effects that go beyond original intentions. For example, animals that produce large amounts of milk are more exposed to certain disease such as Mastitis as compared to other animals. Therefore, modifications that improve milk production expose animals to Mastitis. In addition, most of the drugs used to increase growth rates cause discomfort and other physical complications (Landa 188). A morally upright society should not allow such practices to go on.
Reasons for Animal Exploitation
The problem of animal suffering cannot be fully addressed without having a clear understanding of the factors that cause it. As discussed earlier, one of the reasons exposing animals to suffering is the desire to produce food in large quantities (Kahler 182). Food producers try to meet market demand using limited resources. Unfortunately, most of the options that increase productivity expose animals to suffering. In this case, there is need to determine whether the problem lies with consumers or producers (Kahler 183).
Consumers need animal products for proteins. However, Kahler notes that protein requirement is not the reason why animal products are on high demand (185). The demand is caused by bad and unhealthy eating habits. Kahler’s assertion could be true considering that strict vegetarians have been able to survive. In this respect, Kahler observes that the high demand for animal products could be the reason why obesity cases have been on the rise (184). As people hurt animals to satisfy their desires, they also expose themselves to complications related to unhealthy eating habits.
Consumers can only use products that are availed to them. In this case, producers play their role by using dubious means to meet the high demand for animal products (Mellon, Benbrook, & Benbrook 7). Players in the food industry pay a lot of attention to improving productivity without minding the effects of their actions (Mellon, Benbrook, & Benbrook 7). Researchers have given a lot of attention to improving output without considering the welfare of involved animals. According to Mellon et al. (8), ethical issues and sustainability should always be considered in every production process. In this regard, one can conclude that animal suffering is caused by greed and insensitivity of players in the food industry.
Another factor facilitating animal suffering is lack of commitment by the US government to safeguard the welfare of domestic animals (Mellon 9). It has to be noted that the reason why laws exist is to guide situations in which people are likely to choose wrong paths even when right options are present.
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I propose that the US government should come up with policies to control production and distribution of animal products. The policies should be designed to criminalize activities that expose domestic animals to suffering. In this regard, courts should play their part by ensuring that designed policies are interpreted and applied in a manner that enhances the original purpose.
Support for the Solution
Animal suffering is caused by high demand for animal products in the US and abroad. In this regard, the US government cannot control consumption habits in other countries. In addition, the government cannot control consumption of products that are readily available to its citizens. Therefore, the only viable option is to control production and distribution of animal products (Vining 123). Vining observes that most animals used in food production suffer while under the management of private investors (123). Insensitive investors mishandle animals because there is no one to hold them accountable for that. In this regard, Vining notes that the Federal and state governments have been successful in enforcing certain laws related to private investors (123). One such example is the enforcement of workers’ rights. Therefore, animal rights will prevail if the Federal and state governments commit themselves to enforce relevant laws (Vining 123).
Farm animals are not well taken care of in the existing animals laws (Ascione & Lockwood 39-45). According to Ascione and Lockwood (49), the US government does not recognize mismanagement of farm animals as cruel practice. This position should be reconsidered in the light of the facts discussed earlier in this paper. All companies that expose animals to any form of suffering should bear criminal responsibilities. Domestic animals will soon start enjoying their rights if this advice is implemented.
Although the above solution is feasible, it needs a lot of preparation. Since the plan aims at reducing consumption of animal products, there is need to find alternative means to supply proteins. In this regard, researchers should be encouraged to concentrate on enhancing non-animal protein sources. Plant products that are rich in proteins should be considered (Ascione & Lockwood 53).
The high demand for animal products in the US and abroad has led to production practices that are unfriendly to animals. Some of the bad experiences that animals go through include crowding in tiny sheds and exposure to genetic modifications. This is not the kind of life that animals were created to live. In this regard, the US government should put in place policies to protect the interests of animals. All players in the food industry should be required to observe some basic standards.
Ascione, F. and Lockwood R. “Cruelty to Animals: Changing Psychological, Social and Legislative Perspectives”. The State of Animals 2001: 39-53. Web.
Balcombe, Jonathan. Pleasurable Kingdom. New York: Macmillan, 2006. Print.
Hewson, C.J. “What is Animal Welfare? Common Definitions and their Practical Consequences”. The Canadian Veterinary Journal 44.6 (2003): 496–499. Web.
Kahler, Susan C. “Raising Contented Cattle makes Welfare, Production Sense,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 218 (2001): 182-6. Print.
Landa, L. “Pain in domestic animals and how to assess it: a review”. Veterinarni Medicina, 57.4 (2012): 185–192. Web.
Mellon, Margaret, Benbrook Charles, & Benbrook Karen Lutz, Hogging It! Estimates of Antimicrobial Abuse in Livestock. Washington: Union of Concerned Scientists, 2001. Print.
Vining, Joseph. “Animal Cruelty Law and Factory Farming”. Michigan Law Review. 106.123 (2008):123-127. Web.
Wollan, Malia. “Migration, on Ice: How Globalization Kills Chicken for their Parts”. Meatpaper, Jun 2008. n. pag. Web.