Does being vegetarian help animals and is it a sustainable way to live your life?
Round one will be: What conditions are animals made for selling living and how does being vegetarian help them?
People always say that they are vegetarian because they care about animals and they want to help them, but how is them not eating meat helping? And what are they trying to help? I will be searching for answers to these questions.
How do farmers treat livestock?
Since this is a highly opinionated topic, I have included quotes from different people's perspectives. It was very interesting for me to read from the perspective of a farmer for example vs the perspective of an animal rights advocate. While doing my research, I quickly learnt that humane treatment is different depending on your point of view. That's why it was so hard to find information on how livestock is treated. The quotes that I included that are from the perspective of someone explaining why livestock are treated well is highlighted in blue, and the opinions of people who are against how livestock is treated is in green.
Animals don't have the same needs as humans, therefore it's very hard to judge what is cruel treatment and what is not. There is a huge debate, and everyone has different views on housing and handling animals. Everyone wants humane treatment, but people have different definitions of what that is.
“If you bought five chickens and put them in your garage, they’d huddle together in a corner. They want safety. But if you just penned them off in a little space in the corner, and your friend walked in, he would say ‘Hey, those chickens don’t have a lot of room.' [That’s] because he's using his human eyes.” -Crystal Mackay, the president of Farm and Food Care Ontario
“There is a scientific debate about this. It’s not black and white. There are different views on different housing and handling practices. It’s not straightforward. There are different perspectives. The bottom line is humane treatment.” -Ron Davidson, a spokesman for the Canadian Meat Council
In the article I read, it says that another thing to note is that death is unpleasant for any species, and there isn't much they can do about that. They can try to make it as easy as possible, but in the end death is still death. The farmers defend themselves by saying that even if the animals don't get the care they need, it's only temporary.
"That’s the thing that seems to get skirted a lot. If you’re not giving them what they need, it’s a pretty short-term thing and you’ll end up not being viable and having to find something else to do." -Ryder Lee, manager of federal and provincial relations for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association
With that being said, there are still many cases in which animals are treated inhumanly. Lesli Bisgould, an adjunct professor in University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law who specializes in animal rights law, says that there is a huge profit being earned from raising livestock. She says that generally the less you worry about treating the animals well, the more money you will be making as a profit. The agricultural industry tries to reassure the public, but many of the things they say could be open to interpretation, so you can never really be sure.
"There’s mega profits coming out of the agricultural industry now and all that profit is being earned on the animals' backs. The less you worry about their welfare, the more money can go into your profit. I think the industry really thrives in the ambiguity of the language," she said. "We hear industry regularly assuring the public that everything they do is humane. 'It’s all ethical. There’s no unnecessary suffering.' These are very vague terms that conjure up comforting images. But we really don’t know what they mean." -Lesli Bisgould
I wanted to read more about how livestock is treated inhumanly because I didn't know much about it, and what I found was pretty disturbing. I read an article on the rolling stone website about two people that went undercover, one on a shocked farm and one on a pig farm. They pretended to be workers there in order to see what is going on inside. In the particular farms they investigated, the animals were definitely treated inhumanly.
"It’s backbreaking labor, nine-hour days in stifling barns in Wyoming, and no training could prepare her for the sensory assault of 10,000 pigs in close quarters: the stench of their shit, piled three feet high in the slanted trenches below; the blood on sows’ snouts cut by cages so tight they can’t turn around or lie sideways; the racking cries of broken-legged pigs, hauled into alleys by dead-eyed workers and left there to die of exposure."
"That hour before her end is usually the only time a pig sees a government rep; from the moment she’s born, she’s on her own, spending four or five years in a tiny crate and kept perpetually pregnant and made sick from breathing in her own waste while fed food packed with growth-promoting drugs, and sometimes even garbage. (The word “garbage” isn’t proverbial: Mixed in with the grain can be an assortment of trash, including ground glass from light bulbs, used syringes and the crushed testicles of their young."
The two undercover people took videos of the animal's living conditions and released them to the press to try to get the places shut down, and many times they were successful. (2)
How does being vegetarian help animals?
Many people go vegetarian in order to help animals, but it is unclear to me how it helps animals for people to be vegetarian. I understood that many people who love animals become vegetarian because they can't stand the idea of eating animals, but some people believe that by not eating meat they are helping the animals. Is this true? In a way, it is. I found this equation in an article and I thought it was an interesting way to show how vegetarians help animals.
|Number saved by a vegetarian = ||Total number of animals killed|
|Population size × ( 1.0 − v )|
v= the amount of the population that is vegetarian
The book "Ninety-Five: Meeting America's Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs" sugests that each vegetarian saves about 95 animals a year, but there is no way to be sure.
Technically, there is no sort of proof that being vegetarian directly helps save animals, but it still does have an impact. These sort of things are not black and white, it all depends on your personal opinion. It is believed that being vegetarian helps raise awareness to the problems in the agricultural industry, and it slowly decreases the amount of animals needing to be killed in order to feed the population. (3)
I could not find too much on how being vegetarian affects animals and the agricultural industry, so if you find any good websites please let me know! It was hard for me to look into this topic because I love animals and I did not enjoy reading about them being harmed. Nevertheless, I beleive that through educating myself on these subjects, I can make better choices, so it's all worth it in the end .
My next round of research is: How does being vegetarian affect your overall health, and is it a good lifestyle choice?
For that round of research, I will divide my research in two posts. My first post will be a research post. I will talk about the health benefits and negative effects being vegetarian has on your body and how it affects your life overall. Then, for my second post, I will be actually trying to be vegetarian for a week and I will write about my experience and how it affected my life.
Thanks for reading my research!