Ethical eating...(No offensive images or insults please)

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    Jan 26, 2008 7:11 PM GMT
    I wanted to make a post about the questions raised by some of the vegetarians on this site, while keeping in mind that it is not an us or them scenario. How are we able to make a deeper connection not only to the food we eat, but to the role our choices have in affecting the rest of the world. Too many times the argument is ended with some banal statement about hamburgers or the posting of a Carl’s jr ad. It strikes me as the death of original thought , the easy way out and a shirking of moral responsibility. Often times the FOOD CHAIN and natural order is asserted and I think it is important to examine that line of thought and its orgins.
    Here is what I have found.
    Aristotle philosophized about hierarchy. This hierarchy is known  as "the great chain of being". It was proposed that the things lower on the chain were made for those higher on the chain. In other words, plants were made for animals, animals were made for people, slaves were made for masters, women were made for men, and men were at the top of the earthly chain, made only for God. According to this philosophy, animals were natural slaves, made for man to be used as a means to an end.
    The Bible is another source of our society's current status of animals. In Genesis, God gave man dominion over every living thing that crept on the earth. Every moving thing that lived was meant for man. Some people argue that this is the reason why animals can be treated as property, or in some cases, as machines. It is easy to justify the use of animals for food, research or pleasure when it is believed that they exist for us.
    Another argument for the use of animals without moral consequence comes for the largely Aristitilian belief that human beings are the only beings with a rational soul. Rene Descartes expanded on this, enforcing the idea that because animals cannot speak, they cannot reason. Reason is what Descartes claimed separated man from animal. Kant took this even further, demanding that the only value an animal has is instrumental. Kant believed that humans do not owe direct duties toward animals but that any duty owed to an animal is just an indirect duty, the duty owed is toward mankind.
    These religious beliefs and philosophies have paved the path for our current legal system as it relates to animals. In the United States, animals are property. This follows directly from the ideas presented above. Whether we are just higher on the great chain of being or just granted dominion over the animals by God, asserting moral rights on animals would hinder their current role in our society. This trend has slowly begun to change through the way we view companion animals in the United States. Germany has taken it even further , creating laws to benefit the animals themselves and not just their owners. Companion animals are placed in a special class, far removed from farm animals and research animals. But why?
    Where does that leave the 10 billion animals that are slaughtered every year for human consumption that are exempt from anti-cruelty laws that otherwise protect companion animals. The only time laws come into the equation are when the are being transported or slaughtered, not when they are being raised on the farm. What is the difference between a companion animal and livestock? Why is the dog herding the sheep protected but the sheep aren't? Why is a pet pig protected and the pig you eat isn't? They are the exact same genetically. Does loving something make it worth more to the courts? Can you ethically claim a difference? By claiming culture, are you unable to see our shakey history when it comes to our long lineage of injustice due to ignorance?. Surely we have “outgrown” much of the logic that has confused our laws regulating our relationships with women and African americans.( I am not comparing a farm animal to a woman or an african american. I reference them only in terms of law) Will we ever outgrow our notions of animals simply existing to be property just as we outgrew the way we looked at women and African americans in the same way? Is it ethical to overlook the abuse suffered by animals that are raised for food? Is it ethical to overlook the abuse suffered by any living thing? We worry about Polar bears drowning but not a calf chained to the ground unable to stand. I am so confused by the separation.
    This is a question I have always wondered. I am not claiming perfection AT ALL. I just want to know how people can stand up for abused puppies but not abused farm animals. An abused animal is an abused animal right? I don’t know that I have ever heard a thoughtful justification for the imbalance. I need to have my faith restored because I don’t want to live in a country of rules and regulations. I want to have faith that great advances are born from freedom of choice and that we each have the capacity to make decisions to enhance wellbeing and reduce suffering of ourselves, others and animals. But given the vitriol and venom spewing on both sides, it seems as if we will never get past semantics and ideologies . I know in my heart that noone wants animals to suffer unecessarily but the lines at McDonalds paint a far different picture. We are so far removed from what is truly natural and healthy. How do we engage in a conversation demanding that all animals are treated on an equal playing field regardless of their position in life.?
    Should it ever be a political question at a debate? will there ever be an answer that will please both sides? Should we discuss it in grade schools? My hope is that we will have a President in office who will reflect my belief that humanity is basically 'good', and given the choice, the majority of us will choose to act in ways that help not harm one another and the planet. But how can we act differently if there is no responsibility taken to insure both sides are heard? Washington is controlled by lobbyists, big business has no interest in animal welfare . If the questions aren’t even being asked, how to we work to create a better answer? I think this is why so many people become vegetarian. Is there a proper political response other than just giving up meat entirely? If you aren't veg but lobby for animal rights, you are quickly deemed a hypocrite . I think this is where the "soap box" comes into play. This isn't fair, and again destroys any hope of common ground. This isn’t meant as a question about eating meat, rather,a comment on our reluctance to see it as a question we should be asking ourselves in order to guarantee a more ethical America.
    (I know some of you grew up on farms and have stories about your life on the farm but this really isn't meant as a post about your family cow. It is a post about factory farming and our responsibility to animals that aren't living in open farms)

    (I am standing before the firing squad)
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    Jan 26, 2008 10:50 PM GMT
    Great post.

    I think that so many people do not take into account that the food they eat comes from animals that are being dismembered while still conscious or live in horribly painful and uncomfortable conditions while they are waiting to be killed.

    If you like meat, great. However, wouldn't you feel so much better knowing that your meal was killed quickly and humanely. Now I don't enjoy hunting myself, but one thing I've aways respected about my friends that hunt is that they all want their critter to die instantly with the first shot. I know that the cow on my plate didn't have it so easy.
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    Jan 26, 2008 11:12 PM GMT
    gettoknowit saiduhuhuhhummmm. Let me clear my throat.


    Picture a puppy with its leg caught in a fox trap, either has to chew his leg off to get out, bleed to death and die of hunger unless somebody find the poor thing and nurses it back to health.

    Is it possible someone might be at McDonalds because because their bloodsugar may be too low in that moment?







    This is my point.. are we so far removed from how our food is made that we only approach eating from the perspective of having low blood sugar. I read post after post about the perfect ratio of protein and carbs and when to have creatine etc. That doesn't seem terribly convenient or natural to me ,but people find the time to do it. Obviously most people on here are thinking about what they are eating and have no problem spending extra money on supplements. I was just wondering why the same effort isn't put into having a more ethical diet and why most people aren't angered about their lack of choices.
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    Jan 26, 2008 11:49 PM GMT
    I have continually referred people to the same author: Michael Pollan. His books and articles for the New York Times Magazine takes up these concerns, along with the general subject of food and health in America.

    In this article from the NYT, he specifically addresses your concerns:

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic/010403_organic.cfm
  • petemdc

    Posts: 136

    Jan 27, 2008 12:39 AM GMT
    I think Michael Pollan makes some great points. I just finished Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". It is a quick, interesting read about becoming more aware, and therefore in charge of where one's food comes from. Factory and commodity farming goes way beyond individual farmers and treatment of animals. It is an intricate web that includes consumers, lobbyists, growers, legislators, stock brokers, etc. Just like most things, we (consumers) don't know enough about the products we purchase and our government or the lobbyists who cater to them would rather us not know.
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:06 AM GMT
    petemdc said. I just Just like most things, we (consumers) don't know enough about the products we purchase and our government or the lobbyists who cater to them would rather us not know.


    We all have the capability to know, that is what kills me.. Everyone researches the hell out of steroids and creatine and protein, but no one is interested in the actual food they are eating? Then , the best part, is if anyone mentions it's origins maybe a bit questionable, everyone goes all apeshit and start talking about the origin of man and the food chain and what is natural. Modern day farms are about as far removed from natural as anything. I find it disheartening that no one else is outraged by what is being marketed and sold to you as "nutrition" and humane. What does it take for us to demand better quality food.
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:11 AM GMT
    So... eating ass is kosher wit you all? icon_question.gif
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:13 AM GMT
    On Eating and Drinking
    Kahlil Gibran

    Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
    But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother's milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.
    And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.


    When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
    "By the same power that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed.
    For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
    Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven."


    And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,
    "Your seeds shall live in my body,
    And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
    And your fragrance shall be my breath,
    And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons."


    And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyards for the winepress, say in your heart,
    "I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,
    And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels."
    And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;
    And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:16 AM GMT
    From a Buddha's point of view this is exactly what sentient beings do all the time; holding themselves prisoner with their attachment to temporary pleasures and life itself.

    "Let me tell you about the middle path. Dressing in rough and dirty garments, letting your hair grow matted, abstaining from eating any meat or fish, does not cleanse the one who is deluded. Mortifying the flesh through excessive hardship does not lead to a triumph over the senses. All self-inflicted suffering is useless as long as the feeling of self is dominent.

    You should lose your involvement with yourself and then eat and drink naturally, according to the needs of your body. Attachment to your appetites - whether you deprive or indulge them - can lead to slavery, but satisfying the needs of daily life is not wrong. Indeed, to keep a body in good health is a duty, for otherwise the mind will not stay strong and clear."
    From Discourses II

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    Jan 27, 2008 4:18 AM GMT
    that is fantastic if you are buddhist... I , however , am not. I am trying to find real answers here, not religious justification.


    oh, and ass eating is always good.
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:20 AM GMT
    By the way, of all the candidates for president, Obama is the only one whose website supports organic and local farming, questions the ridiculous farm subsidy program and makes a connection between local farming and reduced fuel costs. Edwards does take up the issue of food safety and he also supports capping farm subsidies.

    As far as I know, none of the candidates specifically address animal welfare and food production.
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:21 AM GMT
    From a website....


    "Is Vegetarian integral to noninjury?" In the contemporary sourcebook on Hinduism, Dancing with Siva, this question is directly addressed: "Hindus teach Vegetarianism as a way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings, for to consume meat, fish, fowl or eggs is to participate indirectly in acts of cruelty and violence against the animal kingdom. The abhorrence of injury and killing of any kind leads quite naturally to a Vegetarian diet, shakahara. The meat-eater's desire for meat drives another to kill and provide that meat. The act of the butcher begins with the desire of the consumer. Meat-eating contributes to a mentality of violence, for with the chemically complex meat ingested, one absorbs the slaughtered creature's feat, pain and terror. These qualities are nourished within the meat-eater, perpetuating the cycle of cruelty and confusion. When the individual's consciousness lifts and expands, he will abhor violence and not be able to even digest the meat, fish, fowl and eggs he was formerly consuming. India's greatest saints have confirmed that one cannot eat meat and live a peaceful, harmonious life. Man's appetite for meat inflicts devastating harm on the earth itself, stripping its precious forests to make away for pastures. The Tirukural candidly states, 'How can he practice true compassion who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh? Greater than a thousand ghee offerings consumed in sacrificial fires is not to sacrifice and consume any living creature.'"
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:22 AM GMT
    Kucinich is a vegetarian, but we saw how well that went..
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:24 AM GMT
    mnjock2003 saidthat is fantastic if you are buddhist... I , however , am not. I am trying to find real answers here, not religious justification.


    oh, and ass eating is always good.


    Guess I missed the point of your post. I thought you were wanting information about societies views on meat eating, vegetarianism, and harm to animails. I was just giving you some examples of teachings from other parts of the world and how they viewed eating.

    I guess I'll shut up then.

    -Den
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:31 AM GMT
    I didn't mean to shut you up. I was questioning what we believe as a country while trying to avoid the realms of religion.
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:40 AM GMT
    I don't really understand what the "question" is here.

    While I understand your point that you find it inconsistent when people consider every aspect of nutrition but the ethical one, I don't see the evidence that people here don't think about that or aren't open to discussing that. The firestorms in other threads had a lot to do with intolerant attitudes.

    No offense, but you just slapped someone down yourself, AlphaDen, because he didn't make the kind of contribution you want -- and there was nothing contrary in what he said.

    Like it or not, Buddhism in particular has taken this subject up in far greater depth than it's ever been regarded by most in the west. You can dismiss it as religious decision, but it's presented in the teachings of Buddhism as a moral/ethical question and people come to different understandings. The Dalai Lama is a meat-eater and has been quite articulate about coming to that decision after sticking to a mainly vegetarian diet.

    Further, I think Pollan's work resolves the dilemma in practical terms -- we should be working to improve animal welfare, not trying to convince people not to eat meat, because they're not going to stop and arguably many should not.
  • kinetic

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    Jan 27, 2008 4:47 AM GMT
    There's a movie Fast-food Nation that I saw on tv a few month's back. This isn't the documentary but a fictional story that I think was adapted from the documentary. Although the story and the characters weren't real, the issues they face are. Pretty eye-opening stuff. You will never want to eat fast food again (or at least for a little while).icon_mad.gif
    If you do eat fast food you definitely should see the film, there's a lot of sick shit in that food people should know about if they are gonna eat it.
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:55 AM GMT
    Now we're talking! I like the original post because its thoughtful and poses valid ideas and questions.

    I'd like to know that the cow that's going to provide that steak has had a happy, healthy, blissful life and was treated with respect, and that when she was sent to slaughter, she went quickly and painlessly. It can be done, but the industry's methods have to change, and that requires that the industry start viewing those animals as another life, rather than a commodity. It will take a massive, concerted effort to create that change. I'm going to eat meat, so I'd prefer the energy some expend trying to convert me to vegetarianism be spent instead on changing the way the animals that supply that meat are treated. And yes, that's a cause I have taken up as well.

    I also refuse to dishonor the spirit of those animals by wasting one bit of that meat, and that goes back to the traditional teachings of my Native American ancestors. "Take only what you need and waste none of it." When did our culture become so wasteful?

    And yes, mnjock2003... the Bible does say God gave man dominion over every living thing... but the Bible also says that God admonished man to be a steward of the Earth and all her creatures. In other words, treat all of it with respect and take good care of it. We've certainly not been doing that at all...
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    Jan 27, 2008 5:21 AM GMT
    Ah, ethic, strange this topic is not welcome in all other area, yet particularly favorable in food.

    This is what I believe. Ethic should have a boundary and purpose. Ethic is for mankind, and the sake of mankind. When men get their ethical treatment, then animal get theirs. When men receive their dignity, then animal get thier share of dignity. Without this basic, all kinda weird ideas could happen due to foolish zeal...

    I believe all animals should be treated with dignity. But not at the cost of suffering to human. Animal should not be treated to the point where poor people are unable to afford to eat them. people should not work 2 jobs just to bring meat to the table. Hence, ethical treatment of animal is directly affect by economic.
  • Djmaxvayo

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    Jan 27, 2008 6:41 AM GMT
    Even though you chastised me on a previous post on a related subject, I am going to respond to this one... icon_biggrin.gif No one can stop me from expressing my opinion, regardless.

    Your original outline of the history of "human supremacy" --forgive the paraphrasing, but that's it in a nutshell--is thought-provoking. I made some comments on a different post related to Vegetarianism that address the problem at hand. To elaborate on those a bit more...

    I am not a religious person by any means; I don't practice any "organized" religion because I believe that they all have inherent, self-delusional flaws (mostly constructs to maintain the chain of command, suppress the rights of others, further their own agenda, etc.). By learning a bit about each of the different religions' practices and guiding principles though, I have tried to distill the essential commonalities to formulate my own beliefs. I have arrived at a "lowest common denominator" set of principles to guide my own life, but it doesn't include any of the obviously misguided ideas that so often cause so much friction between people.

    One of the common principles is the notion that the energy that we put forth (or offer up, if you will) comes back to us in turn; positive energy brings positive energy back to us, negative brings negative. Applying this principle to the subject matter at hand, treatment of animals, we would discover that the cruelty and disrespect that is paid to animals raised for food is coming back to us. However, most of us can't perceive it. Most of us aren't sensitive enough to taste it, smell it, or feel it. This is not a statement about blame; this is merely an explanation. We have been blinded by the marketing, the flavor additives, the popularity, the affordability, our addiction to processed foods, and the disconnection of the finished product from its source.

    Unfortunately, the WAY that the negative energy is coming back to us is also very subtle and incremental. For proof of concept here, we need look no further than the movie "Supersize Me." This film was an eye-opener for most. I looked at it and said "finally, someone is telling it like it is." I believe that this film only skims the surface of the multitude of problems arising from the mistreatment of animals, however. The other problems relate to the comments I made previously about stress, fear, and pain and their effects on biochemistry.

    I will ask everyone reading this to suspend any tendency to disbelieve until you've finished reading what I have written. Hear me out. Scientific studies have shown the effects of stress, fear, and pain on the biochemistry of the human species. To put it in layman's terms: these states of mind generate lots of epinephrine (adrenalin) and cause the major organs to do some pretty strange things (the heart races, the eyes dilate, breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and sometimes the heart palpitates or the mind hallucinates). In turn, the secondary chemical reactions that occur in the body after the release of adrenalin produce lots of acid (lower the pH in the body). So what, you say? We can calm ourselves down, get out of the situation, take a pill, do some meditation, and let our kidneys re-balance our pH. But imagine for a minute that you CAN'T do any of those things... that you are stuck in that hell indefinitely.

    It has been known for at least the last 35 years that lowering the pH of the blood and all of the body's fluids provides an ideal environment for microbes to thrive (bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.). These little critters love an acidic environment with less oxygen. So, what have we done when we put ourselves in stressful, fearful, and painful situations? We have set ourselves up to become sick. IT IS ABSOLUTELY THE SAME FOR ANIMALS! Treat them like objects, throw them in tiny cages in dark buildings with inadequate air, make them sit in their own feces, refuse medical attention when they need it, and PRESTO! WE HAVE DISEASE.

    So, the "meat" that you eat inevitably embodies the biochemical characteristics of the body from which it originates. If the animal was sick, your "meat" is sick as well. Sound too far-fetched? I challenge you to prepare two pieces of your favorite "meat" in exactly the same way, but one has to be organically-produced, free range, humanely raised while the other is just "conventional" (factory-farmed). You'll be STARTLED at the difference. That is the physical manifestation of the negative energy. I believe that there are also spiritual manifestations of the same negative embodied energy, but I won't labor this discussion with philosophical tangents. icon_smile.gif




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    Jan 27, 2008 6:57 AM GMT
    My chef knife is no tool of destruction, it is a tool of respect.

    Every cut is a reflection of what this source is giving. Each cut is a thought out moment paying an honor to the source.

    I see not this respect in fast food. There (their) - animals and plants are just sources of profit - not of nourishment. The death of the animal is just a cost in a pseudo-battle for gain. There is no respect in that war. There is no dignity in that for the pursuer or for the pursued. And there is no joy in the consumption (and if it is present... it's fake and desperate).
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:08 PM GMT
    This ethics debate is really interesting to me. mnjock2003 --- you spelled out a very inteligent discussion of this topic --- you have my respect for sure !!! Sadly most of society have no choice but to eat the flesh whether is was ethicly killed or not, about the only choices we have is whether the meat is "organicly produced", raised "free to roam" as apposed to caged, coshure, but none of these guarantee how the animal was killed for its meat. Most of our populations are either in a city, or suberb, only a few like me have acreage that we can raise cattle to be butchered for us, by who we choose to do the "deed". Where I'm at on my 15 acre mountain place, I have a lot of dear, so when a neighbor shoots one I get some free venisen (sp?) and I have two pesky dear that snort at my when I'm in my yard, because I'm in their territory, they eat up my garden, which is mostly organic, they also eat the roses next to my house and the vines on my house. so its good meat, Any volunteers to "HUMANELY" shoot these two pests ? LOL !!!! all jokes aside, you have had positive affect on my eating, so I will try to come as close to ethical meat eating as possible.
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    Jan 27, 2008 4:56 PM GMT
    obscenewish saidI don't really understand what the "question" is here.

    I don't see the evidence that people here don't think about that or aren't open to discussing that. The firestorms in other threads had a lot to do with intolerant attitudes.




    Look at any post about vegetarianism and read the comments posted. Most of them are people highlighting their favorite meat dish, how animals are meant to be food , food chain, we are bigger than them etc. etc. In fact, very few people took the time to mention anything thoughtful or helpful. Dumbing down a topic just to piss someone off seems a little silly. Posting pictures of dead animals or a roast beef sandwich is a little ridiculous The" I will because I can" attitude is frightening if you don't ask yourself the tougher questions. If you can obsess about the amount of fat or protein in food, why can't we be concerned about how that food got to the table. How would you ever come to the decision to ask yourself those questions if you didn't consider animals in a different light?

    My post was meant to break down some of the history of why we believe what we do and why we avoid asking ourselves the hard questions. I think a lot of people are in the dark when it comes to what is on the law books. I have noticed people saying that people can't legally be cruel to animals, that they are protected , when the truth is that they aren't for 99% of their lives. People show such disdain for PETA as if they were the enemy , while protecting the "bad guy" which is big business factory farms and a government that subsidizes them. I wanted to make a plea for common ground on the subject which is choosing meat that is humanely produced. Innerathlete told me about the "slow food movement" which I found encouraging.

    I wanted to open up the discussion with facts, not a plea for emotion. What do you do with the information when you accept the real state of food in this country? Most people will obsess about the value of their dog or pets and go out of their way and spend a lot of money to make sure they don't ever suffer. I think we should treat our food with the same respect. If you want to defend your right to eat meat, which i understand, you should be on the front lines defending animal welfare and demanding humane treatment. Instead, a lot of people who eat meat attack animal rights activists as nut cases. Some of us are, lol, but most of us are just tired of the status quo and we want better answers. You should to.
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    Jan 27, 2008 5:08 PM GMT
    realifedad said about the only choices we have is whether the meat is "organicly produced", raised "free to roam" as apposed to caged, coshure, but none of these guarantee how the animal was killed for its meat.


    You're right. I grew up next to my family's hog farm and they lived on a hundred acres or so of range land before they were slaughtered. They lived very happy healthy lives except when the boy pigs got castrated. The way they were eventually killed, however, was horrific. In deference to mnjocks's wish that this thread free of gross or overly upsetting content, I will not go into detail. I still think it's better than them being penned up in their own waste their entire lives though.


    This is a tough subject and I can't say that I've reached any ultimate conclusions myself other than the fact that I need to think more on it.
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    Jan 27, 2008 5:21 PM GMT
    They lived very happy healthy lives except when the boy pigs got castrated. The way they were eventually killed, however, was horrific.


    This is a tough subject and I can't say that I've reached any ultimate conclusions myself other than the fact that I need to think more on it.[/quote]

    Which goes back to the laws protecting animals while they are on the farm.. There aren't any, so regardless of wether they are free range or not, they can be castrated without anesthesia or beaten because there is no consequence for inflicting unnecessary pain while they are being raised.

    There is no guarantee that anything comes to you cruelty free unless you hunt and kill it or raise it yourself. There needs to be some standards so that we know what we are buying. Even organic milk cows are sent for slaughter when milk production ceases and the whole reason they produce milk is because they are kept pregnant. Female cows move into the same role as their mothers (milk..pregnant) and the boy cows are sold to factory farms for slaughter or sometimes veal. I just think we are so far removed from what came naturally in the beginning. Even the projections that we will run out of fish in the sea or that they will be too poisoned with mercury tells us that we have gone off track somewhere here.

    Fixing the industry should be a priority, not an after thought. It's just like organic, if there is a shift in dollars to humane farms or "the slow food movement" business will listen and there will be more options for everyone that we can feel good about.
    If you are afraid of thinking about where your food came from, that should tell you it's time for things to change.