tagged w/ Laying Hens
The Beings We Eat
Worldwide, more than 80 billion land animals, of many kinds, are raised and killed each year as food for one particular group called Homo sapiens. Similar numbers of animals are taken from the water, so humans eat around 160 billion animals each year. In comparison, just about 100 billion humans have walked this planet in our known history.
We present these facts not to make ourselves or our readers feel overwhelmed. No one wants to feel bad. We can, however, feel responsible. Think of it as the power to change things, beginning today. Because we can, by becoming vegan.
Here is an overview of the realities of animal farming. Goats, sheep, and other animals not covered here are also respected by vegan values. These beings are just a few of the many conscious beings humans have dominated and now use daily. This domination and use is not inevitable, so you need not accept the objection that vegans are idealists and the world won’t go vegan overnight. The world of one person changes with each individual who does opt out of animal use, and that’s just what a movement means.
The Chickens and the Eggs
Of the 80 billion land animals killed each year, well over half are chickens. In the United States, nine billion out of the ten billion land animals killed each year are chickens raised for their flesh, their ability to reproduce, and their eggs.
The chickens bred and confined to lay eggs are commonly referred to as battery hens. Most are kept in small, wire cages; a small number are kept in crowded sheds, and a tiny fraction of the overall number have some access to the outdoors. Nearly all of them have much of their beaks seared off (to prevent pecking), and are quickly exhausted from the egg-laying, and at that point slaughtered for their flesh. Osteoporosis and frequent bone breaks are the norm for their bodies, purpose-bred to lay egg after egg.
Male chicks are not wanted in this business. They may be suffocated or ground alive to be used as fertilizer or feed. Egg production is a deadly business for birds.
Some feminists -- including Priscilla Feral, Lee Hall, and Richard Twine -- have pointed out the commodification of the female reproductive system in the egg industry, as well as in the dairy industry, is, and should be treated as, an issue of exploitation every bit as oppressive as the production of flesh.
The idea behind eggs marketed as “cage-free” is to switch from keeping hens in a wire cage to keeping them in a shed or on the stacked floors (known as tiers) more common in Europe. Then the customer feels that the conditions were improved. Some proprietors keep birds in both sheds and cages to take advantage of both markets.
The conditions found in cage-free operations are virtually identical to the conditions endured by chickens raised for their flesh. These “broiler” chickens spend their days in one big cage, often with many thousands of other birds, the air heavy with dust and ammonia from their waste.
So “cage-free” is no bargain for the chickens, and removing these purpose-bred animals from cages can actually increase bone breaks, stress, and competition for food. Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral visited a company considered a pioneer in this market, and asked the tour facilitator to please pick up some of the dead birds whose bodies the crowded birds had to walk around and over, and the facilitator did so, without any sign of surprise at the dead birds. Priscilla noted that these birds too had much of their beaks taken off. The males were mostly missing. Priscilla remembers this as an appalling scene. “And they all get slaughtered at the end.”
“We have no need for eggs,” continues Priscilla. “So the vegan thing to do is to advocate peaceful and respectful alternatives. I urge everyone who is thinking about vegan living to learn how to cook and bake wonderful foods, including egg-free desserts, from Dining With Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine.”
The Beings We Eat
Worldwide, more than 80 billion land animals, of... more
Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Approximately 1 billion people will participate in Earth Day celebrations this month, and today alone countless people will plant trees, clean up rivers, pledge not to use plastic bags and decide to walk rather than drive. All of this helps, of course, but it's not going to save the planet. To be truly "green", we've got to make our diets more environmentally friendly by kicking the meat habit and going vegan. An apple a day can help keep environmental destruction away.
Our most serious environmental problems – climate change, overexploited natural resources, deforestation, wasted land, water and air pollution – as well as today's most serious health problems, including heart disease and cancer, are all directly linked to the consumption of meat, eggs and dairy products.
A 2006 United Nations report revealed that the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships in the world combined. The report attributed 18% of annual worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions to farmed animals, but new research indicates that the figure actually could be much higher. In Livestock and Climate Change, the Worldwatch Institute estimates that raising animals for food actually accounts for 51% of all greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates that 30% of the Earth's ice-free land is now involved – either directly or indirectly – in livestock production. Huge swaths of forests are being bulldozed to make more room for animals and the crops that feed them. According to Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9m acres of rain forest were destroyed in one year's crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals on factory farms.
Some activists will be showering in the street today behind a curtain that reads, "1kg of meat = 1 year of showers. Clean your conscience: go vegan". That's because between watering the crops that farmed animals eat, providing drinking water for billions of animals each year and cleaning away the filth on factory farms and in trucks and slaughterhouses, the farmed-animal industry places a serious strain on our water supply. A totally vegetarian diet can be produced with only 1,100 litres of water per day, while producing a diet that includes meat requires more than 15,000 litres of water per day.
Then there's the energy required to operate factory farms, feedlots, slaughterhouses and trucks that transport animals. The respected environmental magazine E noted in 2002 that more than one-third of all fossil fuels produced in the US are used to raise animals for food.
That's not all. Our meat-based diet is partly to blame for world hunger, because land, water and other resources that could be used to grow food for human beings are used to grow crops for farmed animals instead. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat.
It's time to face what some may consider an inconvenient truth: our meat, egg and dairy habits are destroying the planet. Let's not forget about being environmentalists the moment we sit down to eat.
If we are to halt climate change and environmental destruction while stopping animal suffering and improving our health, we must celebrate Earth Day every day – at every meal.Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Approximately 1 billion people will... more