The Humane Society of the United States just released a new video documenting the horrible truths behind America’s factory farming industry and our incessant hunger for meat (I know, only some of us). The video, narrated by James Cromwell, is certainly an eye-opener.
The video begins with some dissonant piano notes backing up images of pigs, cows and chickens with no room to move inside of their cages, side by side with thousands of other animals who will live the same horrible lives and find the same horrible deaths. Cromwell’s voice, all scratchy and wise, is the perfect pitch for this narration. The realization is immediate that the video will be a bit coarse, but nonetheless moving.
I eat meat. I always have. I think I always will. Yet this doesn’t change my disgust for the cruelty and disregard of the Factory Farming Industry. I didn’t really learn about industrialized farming until my Junior year in college. I had never really thought much about it. When I was growing up, my father raised cattle on my grandparent’s farm in rural Virginia—so a lot of the meat in our freezer was raised just down the road and if it wasn’t I always assumed it was raised somewhere else in a similar fashion— ahhh, the beauty of naivete.
In my college public speaking course I decided to do my research and speak on the Factory Farming industry. I learned first hand how absurd the industry really is. Not only is there extreme cruelty towards animals, there is also extreme environmental issues as well. One thing I focused on in my speeches was the amount of waste accumulated by these huge operations. When you house that many animals in such a small vicinity, you have to have a place to put all the waste. The industry’s answer to this: waste lagoons.They fill large pits with waste and when the lagoon walls burst or the area experiences heavy rains, the result is contaminated rivers and streams. This type of accident has been known to cause issues like eutrophication, which causes problems like algae blooms, “blue baby syndrome” (also read this) and introduce a whole host of nasty bacteria into watersheds.
I wish it was just a question of right v. wrong, cruel v. humane or ethical v. unethical, but it’s not. Unfortunately it’s also question of supply and demand. I live in Manhattan, one of the most densely populated places in the world, and I see everyday that we are some consuming SOBs. I would be a hypocrite to tell you to stop eating meat, so I won’t, but I will tell you to watch this video and decide for yourself if that is something you want to contribute to. I’m trying to buy the right foods from the right operations, and it’s not always easy or affordable, but I’m doing it solely because of my knowledge of factory farming. The arguments on this subject are many, but I’m certain I don’t want to contribute to what I saw in this video. Take a gander and let me know how you feel.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/Z-cor1uZ2AM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]If after watching the video you’ve decided to give up meat, here are a few posts from another Green Options writer that might help: