Last month I went over how disgusting our conventional milk is thanks to big business factory farming. But sadly, the level of filth doesn't stop there because these same things affect our meat products as well. Now you may remember that last month I revealed how in fact cows are kept in cramped spaces and are left very sickly and never receive sunshine, proper care, or even a proper diet. These conditions apply for every animal on a factory farm, sadly.

 Any animal that is raised on a factory farm consistently deals with some very disturbing factors:

  • Lack of sunshine and thus a vitamin D deficiency
  • Living quarters that force them to remain in one position, constantly (ie, the cages are just big enough to fit them)
  • Inhumane method of slaughter
  • Instances of mistreatment and neglect are rampant
  • Overcrowding
  • Improper diet
  • Maiming

Any living creature – unless they are diurnal – should receive sunshine. This is a vital component for many living things and even humans barely understand the importance of this very vital necessity to life (and we will discuss this next month!). I really don't think anyone would disagree that nothing should be forced to live in complete darkness all of its life if that is counter to its natural way of living. This creates unneeded stress and depression and we've known for ages that all this affects the quality of our meats as well as us.

Cows and pigs are forced to live in a pen that is only big enough to fit them; they can not turn around or lay down (unless they're pregnant, in which case the size of the pen is slightly expanded, but not by much). I'm no animal rights activist or anything, but certainly this is cruel treatment! Now in the case of chickens, they are kept in very large pens that are severely overcrowded to the point where this causes much in-fighting over territory and it's not uncommon to see the chickens that died from malnourishment or stress to simply lay there rotting amongst the rest of the other living chickens.

On a factory farm, there is no such thing as proper treatment or care. An animal simply is there until it dies. It doesn't matter if it's sick or completely malnourished; it will stay there until slaughter without any proper care (or sometimes it will simply be abandoned to die. I've seen actual video of physical mistreatment as well (electric prodding, etc.).

This level of disgusting treatment is turned up a notch more when you consider that chickens will have their beaks cut off so that they aren't able to maim eachother in the crowded pens (chickens are very territorial), and also, larger animals are slaughtered simply by allowing them to bleed to death. On a factory farm, it's all about cost and convenience. All of these factors really affect the quality of the meat that we purchase. You can see this for yourself in the 2-part documentary entitled Supermarket Secrets (part 1, part 2). Also, if you'd like a better understanding of what happens to your food at factory farms, there are two documentaries I'd suggest watching depending on how strong your stomach is:

The Meatrix I

This cartoonish-parody of The Matrix offers a much easier to digest picture of factory farms because it uses animated graphics instead of real video. But it has won 7 different film awards for a reason: it's very informative.

Peaceable Kingdom
A film in progress that really promises to open your eyes to the level of digust that occurs when we are not looking. Their site has a sneak preview of this film but I warn you: it's not pretty. This isn't a cartoon. This is real video, of real animals.

Now we are left with questions. Some people, after viewing materials such as this decide to go vegetarian or vegan, and certainly I commend them because that's a hard path to follow. However, such a diet and lifestyle is not right for everyone. Some people, either because of blood type or ancestry, physically require meat products. There is still hope for those of you who still wish to consume meat. Only purchase meats that are either labeled as “all natural”, “certified organic”, or “cage free” (although I issue caution with the last one because there are some companies that will lie and claim that their animals are free-range, but in reality, it's just another factory farm). Personally, I suggest purchasing meats from a health food store like Whole Foods, Harry's, Trader Joe's, etc.. If not for humane reasons, then make the switch for personal reasons: these meats are incredibly unhealthy for you, are swimming with antibiotics (see The Meatrix I), and the conventional meats always contain 2 preservatives that will lead to cancer: sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite.

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