The tidy slices of turkey or ham on our sandwiches, looking so unlike the animals they came from, conceal from us the agony of their miserable lives and messy deaths. With the blood all washed away and their faces never having entered our imagination, we eat animals unmindful that they screamed for a chance to live before we had them killed for our lunch.
We joke about how we salivate over bacon, oblivious of the dark truth of how we keep sows pregnant and locked in crates barely larger than the size of their bodies, unable to even turn around, for most of their lives. Our taste buds are no justification for treating an animal like this — if we wouldn’t so confine a dog, it cannot be right to do so to pigs either.
We cut off the testicles of male piglets as they scream in pain. We slice off the sensitive beaks of the female chicks raised for their eggs; and, since we have no use for the male chicks, we grind them up alive. We brand cows with hot irons, we cut off their tails, and we burn, gouge out or chop off their sensitive horn tissue.
With intense genetic selection and specially formulated feed, the chickens we eat are forced to grow to almost seven times their natural weight. They are babies when we slaughter them, not even one-third of their way to reproductive age. Yet, they are so grotesquely large and unhealthy that their bones can barely support their weight and many struggle to even walk.
Imagine someone locked you in a closet so tiny you could not fully extend even one of your arms — for as long as two years! Imagine not even the comfort of a solid floor, but only a wire mesh on which to sit or stand. Imagine lasting through this intense suffering, only to be violently hauled out and killed. This is the lifelong horror we inflict on hens whose eggs we eat.
As if our systemic use and abuse of animals in agriculture were not bad enough already, busy or stressed-out workers routinely heap on them yet more pain and suffering. Multiple undercover investigations have documented animals being slammed against walls, stomped on, swung around for fun, kicked, punched, and even sexually abused.
We say we love animals, forgetting how selective we can be. We welcome dogs and cats into our homes as family—we snuggle with them, we buy them toys and treats, we smother them with kisses and we praise them in baby talk. Chickens, pigs and cows, however, who are just as deserving of our love, we confine, abuse, slaughter and eat.
Non-human animals have value independent of their usefulness to humans. It is only ethical that we respect their right to bodily integrity and acknowledge their right not to be forced to serve human interests. It is only ethical that we stop eating animals and stop imposing on them so much pain and suffering in our names.
When we eat vegetarian—or even better, eat vegan—we reduce some of the most intense suffering we cause other beings. We can thrive just fine without eating the flesh, eggs or milk of animals, and our planet will thrive better too. Let’s eat vegan and make this a better world for all!