June 19, 2019
Is It Ethical to Eat Animals?
The food industry is one of the biggest exploiters of animals and is responsible for mass suffering and death. Every year, tens of billions of animals are killed for food, and most endure lives of constant fear and torment. Nearly all the animals raised for food in America today are separated from their families and crammed by the thousands into filthy warehouses, where they spend their entire lives in abysmally filthy conditions. They’re mutilated without the use of painkillers and deprived of everything that is natural and important to them. On the killing floor, many animals are conscious and struggling to escape while their throats are cut—and some are still conscious while their bodies are hacked apart or when they’re dunked into tanks of scalding-hot water.
It is an indisputable fact that animals have sentience and complex nervous systems. Animals are intelligent and complex—much more so than many people even realize—and scientists are finding more and more evidence of this all the time. But emotional complexities and intellectual capabilities aside, animals can feel pain just like humans can—and just like us, they value their lives and don’t want to suffer.
That said, there is no such thing as “humane meat.” Giving animals a few more inches of living space is simply not enough—and even if their quality of life is high, we still don’t have the right to take that life for something as trivial as a particular meal. Animals on organic and “free-range” farms often endure the same cruel mutilations—such as debeaking, dehorning, and castration without painkillers—as animals on conventional factory farms do. And at the end of their miserable lives, they are typically shipped on trucks through all weather extremes (usually without food, water, or rest) to the same slaughterhouses used by factory farms.
In addition to animal suffering, animal agriculture also contributes to environmental destruction. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and results in polluted land, water, and air. The United Nations (U.N.) has acknowledged that raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” And the resources going toward feeding the billions of animals used for food could be used more wisely to combat world hunger.