Whether you are or aren’t a meat eater, it is important to understand the impact of factory farming. This might not be something you want to hear (or even believe) but: not all meat is equal. This doesn’t mean you need to completely ban meat from your life, but it is important to know how our food chain, environment and health is being affected by it.
I don’t have a label on the type of food I eat. Aka I’m not a “vegan” or “vegetarian”. But, largely because of factory farming, I opt for meatless options a majority of the time and try stick to a whole food plant based diet. (Ugh, the comments clueless people make when you deny meat is priceless 🙂 )
No judgment whether or not you eat meat, but it is super important to know what is in the meat you are eating and what has happened to it before it has reached your plate.
So what is factory farming?
“A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food. Over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare.” The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption. (The American Dream!) Factory farms confine extremely large numbers of animals: cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys at high densities, typically indoors. If you have never seen an image of what these farms look like, I urge you to expose yourself to what is going on. It is so not pleasant, fun or happy, but it’s responsible and necessary, especially if you eat meat. I’m not including an image because they’re disturbing, but go Google.
Seriously.. Google search “Factory Farm Images”..
A factory farm is a mix of misery and fear for animals. These animals are crammed in dark places, with no room to move. They will never be able to do anything that feels natural to them. Many won’t even feel the sun or see daylight unless they’re put on a truck taken to a slaughterhouse. A number of the animals end up dying from disease and infection, due to the terrible and brutal circumstances. The conditions of factory farming are enough for me to want no part of it, but if you have a colder heart than most maybe you’ll be interested in how the life of these animals can affect your health…
The environment these animals live in are completely filthy. In order to prevent disease, keep animals alive (even when they’re not sick) and promote faster growth, animals are given antibiotics. The overuse of these antibiotics in animals can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans. Other methods used to maintain health of the animals and promote unnatural growth are disinfectants, hormones, or vaccines. Remember, what these animals get, you eat. Some chickens are given so many growth hormones their legs break because they can no longer support the weight of their bodies. This is so unnatural and sad. 🙁
While consumption of meat has grown rapidly, the number of workers has remained the same. This is dangerous for the workers, animals and us. Bacteria and disease are extremely common in these farms and there are less people to supervise what the final product we’re getting is. Not to mention this leaves way more room for further animal cruelty. As if this isn’t cruel enough. Ugh.
There are many horrible affects on the environment as well. The resources and actions taken at these farms harm the environment and people surrounding. Read more here.
This isn’t a fun topic to talk about, but so many people don’t know, or pretend not to know what is actually going on. The good news is that there are other options. Traditional farms (over factory farms) provide a happier, natural and healthy environment for animals. They are given free range, social interaction and a diet that is normal to them. They play, nurse and breed normally.
Being exposed to the truth may turn you off from meat completely, and that is wonderful. But, some people aren’t interested to give up meat, which is totally fine too. This article isn’t about giving up meat, but about choosing the right meat options and understanding the difference.
HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO: Choose organic meat or look for these labels: “organic”, “antibiotic free”, “grass fed”, “pasture raised”. Choosing organic is the absolute best option. And cut back on eating meat and dairy if possible.
Take steps to be the change. I understand that for someone who has never given a thought about this, it may be overwhelming to avoid meat at restaurants or a friends house because you don’t know where it came from. So start small with your changes. You are in complete control over the meat you purchase, so when you’re in control, choose organic. Try cutting back and having one meatless day a week. Eating as much meat as our society does isn’t necessary or really healthy, anyway. (Prior to 1910, chicken was only served on special occasions or Sunday dinners. And in certain countries, animals are held as sacred. One animal is killed per week to feed a family. The number of animals factory farming kills each year in our country is in the billions.) One small step is better than no step at all. Have respect for the food you eat.
This topic pisses me off and is sad to write about which is why I only skimmed the surface, but it is important for everyone to be informed. So many people watch the news daily “to be informed” but will turn a blind eye to this because it’s not shown in the mainstream media. If you got this far into the article there is no pretending to be clueless. BE the change and start with your decisions now.