Today, in the mail, I received a plea for money from the “Veal Calf Refuge Project” of Farm Sanctuary, a New York charity specifically designed to aid farm animals. That, in itself, is not unusual, since I am a vegetarian I often get such mail. In fact, I get tons of it! I routinely hear from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the U.S. Humane Society, Greenpeace, International Fund for Animal Welfare, World Wildlife, Defenders of Wildlife; and those are just a few.
I recently read a story about how chickens are treated just so Americans can have their meat. It was sickening: chicks dumped live into a trash bin to wallow in filth and stagnant water before they drop dead on their own; male chicks thrown live into a grinder; chickens bleeding to death as a result of the de-beaking procedures used so they won’t peck each other to death while they live out their short lives crammed in tiny cages where many are simply trampled and severely injured; chickens having their faces smashed into grinding machines; their heads twisted in the hope of breaking their necks to kill them (but not always successfully); chickens hobbling with broken feet and wings after the workers vaccinate them; chickens abused, kicked and punched, by workers who no doubt are having a bad day at the plant!
It’s bad enough we slaughter animals for food and clothing. Is it also necessary that we treat them like garbage and torture them beforehand? Must horses and cattle be abused, starved and denied water before being crammed dangerously (where they’re often trampled, lose an eye, or otherwise are severely injured) into trucks enroute to slaughter? Must sows be shoved into tiny, filthy enclosures, unable to turn around to see their babies before they’re churned into sausage? Must calves be torn from their mothers immediately after birth, chained in dark, minuscule stalls before they’re made into veal to be served at America’s finest restaurants? I suppose meat-eaters don’t really care how their food gets to their plates. It would seem to me that anyone reading about “veal” calves or how sows are treated would immediately take up arms, and slaughter the animal farmers, instead. What about the animals that are abused daily before meeting their tortuous deaths in research labs around the world which condone sometimes idiotic, and very often, massively redundant tests?
Except for The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, there doesn’t seem to be any other honorable oversight of such abuses. Unfortunately, that group has little pull over our government, because the abuses and testings are still going on. You certainly can’t trust the National Institutes for Health, the government organization that handles the financing to universities around the country. To them, every animal is fair game: Oh! You want to see if monkeys get addicted to cocaine? Okay, here’s ten million dollars and let us know if you need more.” I mean, don’t we have enough human drug addicts in this world to study instead of watching a bunch of animals enter the twilight zone? In their own realm, whales and dolphins are highly intelligent creatures. And, because decades ago, in our ignorance, it was highly fashionable to hunt such creatures, man still insists he has a right to do what he will with them. A good number of nations is hoping to change that, but Japan, for instance, still intends to put up a strong fight against the International Whaling Commission. Is there any creature on the face of the earth that man would leave alone for its own sake, for a right to its own existence? It doesn’t seem to be in our history to let that happen. Why, the Chinese even hunted Pandas, the creature most Americans find inordinately endearing! Although, I must admit, I cannot even fathom the idea of shooting a deer. What hunters describe as sport, we animal rights advocates call murder. Think about it for a moment: it’s sporting to destroy another living creature? No, sport is playing golf or baseball. It’s not blowing out the brains of some defenseless animal.
As a vegetarian and animal rights advocate, I am especially concerned with issues related to animals. I give regularly to several charities, and while it makes me feel good to do so, I often cannot give as much as I would like and, in fact, am unable to give at all, which angers me no end. But more important, I feel I shouldn’t have to.
And so, I came to this conclusion. I cannot bear this burden any longer. I cannot stand constantly reading about the hideous abuses and torture that animals must endure before eventually being slaughtered. I cannot tolerate the fact that our government allows it. I cannot believe that people condone it. They shoot wolves from helicopters, poison animals, trap them in horrible devices that maim them first. And our farm animals are treated as so much garbage. These things live. They feel. They bleed and suffer. And we humans turn the other way and justify our actions because they are merely animals. I wonder what that makes us? Fools, I think. For it is we who destroy our world. No one else does it.
The day our society and, particularly, our government puts an end to such abuses is the day that we can call ourselves HUMAN. For we are no such thing as long as we continue to deny basic rights to any living creature. You might be able to justify using animals in medical research and you might be able to justify their use as food and clothing, but in my mind, there is absolutely nothing you can say or do to justify the hideous, unnecessary abuses to which animals are routinely exposed in this country or anywhere else in the world. (original post 1999-2000)