Environmental · Personal · Veganism

Veganuary #2: For The Animals

“You’re vegan? But what about the plants? They have feelings too, they feel pain. Don’t you feel bad for the carrots? You’re a murderer.”

It’s time we recognize the “plants have feelings, too!” argument for what it is: a feckless attempt to undermine the ethical basis of veganism with pseudo-science and bad logic. 

There are so many reasons why people decide to try veganism. For most, though, it is a love for animals that is the main reason. But that doesn’t mean that they are blindly following their heart without scientific facts to back up their choices. Animals are sentient beings, which means that they are capable of emotion and feel pain, as well as happiness. They can feel calm or they can suffer from stress. Just like us. Plants, however, are not sentient. 

Animals are the victims of an industry that cares little for their well-being, and causes them to suffer in innumerable ways. People, also, tend to be so disconnected from what they are eating, where it’s come from and the fact their food once had a life.

Below you will find out some facts about the meat, dairy and egg industry, in regards to three of the main animals killed for food. Warning, some people may find the information upsetting.

Unnatural Growth Rates. 

  • Chickens raised for meat, are manipulatively breed to grow much quicker than they would do naturally, so that they reach slaughter weight in a lot less time. If humans were to grow at the same rate as these chickens, we would weigh 25 stone at age two! Can you imagine!?
  • In the egg production industry, all hens are bred to produce more than 300 eggs a year, whilst a wild hen would lay only around 60 eggs.
  • Calves are fed on cereals in ‘fattening sheds’, where numbers can reach as high as 8,000 per shed, before they are sent to slaughter at the very young age of 11 – 12 months.
  • Dairy cows are bred to produce extremely large quantities of milk, roughly around ten times more than necessary to feed a calf. The weight of this excess milk puts a huge strain on the cow’s body and often causes teat and udder infections.

‘Free-range’ does not mean cruelty-free.

  • Hens are predominately confined in barns with up to four hens per square metre. Less than 10% (on average) of the chickens are outside at any given time. In fact, the majority of hens are kept in wire cages, and spend the majority of their lives inside with very little space – the space they have works out no larger than a single sheet of A4 paper.
  • Free-Range or not, they all end up in the same slaughterhouse. On the way to the slaughterhouse the animals will have to face long distance journeys in the truck, which can be as long as 24 hours before they are provided with food and water.
  • To produce milk, a cow must give birth. Typically, this calf is taken away from her within hours of birth. To ensure there is a constant supply of milk, a cow will suffer this same process of artificial insemination, pregnancy and separation several times in her life. As long as she can produce ‘profitable’ milk. Free- Range or not!
  • Due to the high speed of the production at the slaughterhouse, the law stating that the cows must be rendered unconscious before being killed is routinely ignored as cows and unskilled workers struggle and many animals have their throats cut and their skin removed while fully conscious. Free-Range or not!
  • A study of slaughterhouses in the UK, over a three year period, found that the stunning of pigs before they are killed was often ineffective due to mistakes made in the procedure. Over 20% of pigs during this research were found to have become conscious before their throats were cut, making their death slow and extremely painful. Free-Range or not!
  • Over half of all female pigs in the meat industry are kept in farrowing crates prior to giving birth. These metal crates are extremely restrictive, not even allowing the pig to turn around, so she can only lie down, stand up, or sit. The mother pig is then barely able to touch her children, as her piglets have to suckle through the bars of the crate. They are then kept in this confinement for a further 28 days until the industry consider her piglets weaned. Free-Range or not.
  • Like all female animals in the food industry, this cycle of artificial insemination, pregnancy and separation is repeated until the pigs’s reproductive system is exhausted and her body can no longer endure this strain. She is then deemed ‘useless’ by the farmers, so she will be killed to produce low quality products like pork pies and sausages. Yep that’s right, whether they were free-range or not. 

Unnecessary Medical Procedures.

  • At only one day old, chicks are subject to a routine debeaking using infrared technology. The chick’s head is restrained on a carousel while a high intensity infrared beam is used to penetrate up to a third of their beak.
  • Cows raised for beef, are often dehorned, branded with red hot irons and castrated within the first week of their lives. In order to dehorn the calves, their horn buds are burned with a hot iron, or applied with a chemical paste which results in the erosion of the horn buds. No pain relief is required for either of these procedures and can be legally performed by an unqualified person.
  • In the UK, there are 3 legal methods of castration; the use of a rubber ring to restrict the blood flow to the calf’s testicles, the use of a ‘burdizzo’ (a plier-like instrument) to crush the spermatic cord of the calf or surgical removal. No pain relief is administered, nor required by law, under the first two methods.
  • 80% of piglets within the meat industry in the UK have their tail docked and their teeth clipped(/grinded). The piglets are held by their back leg or around the hips, while a heated blade or pliers are used to remove their tails. No anaesthetic is required.
  • All pigs, in the UK, must also be marked with their herd identification. This often involves painful procedures including tagging, cutting or tattooing their ears. 
  • Male piglets are often castrated in order to make them easier to handle and to encourage weight gain. This can be done without pain relief on piglets up to seven days old.

Natural Life Span vs Meat, Dairy + Industry Life Span.

  • A chickens natural lifespan is 7 years old. However, chickens raised for meat are killed at only 40-50 days old and hens that lay eggs are killed at 18 months old. 
  • Male chicks are gassed or crushed to death at only 1 day old simply because they cannot lay eggs for the industry to sell. 
  • The lifespan of a dairy cow is only five to seven years, whereas a cow would naturally live 15-20 years.
  • A pigs natural lifespan is around 15 years, however in the meat industry pigs are killed between the ages of 3 to 6 years old.

Animal Death Statistics In The Meat, Entertainment + Clothing Industries.

  • Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans.
  • That’s 40,000 animals a second. 
  • This does not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes.
  • More than 100 million animals —including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds—are killed in U.S. laboratories alone every year for biology lessons, medical training, curiosity-driven experimentation, and chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing.
  • More than 50 million animals are violently killed for use in the fashion industry every year. There are various methods used to kill animals for their fur, which include gassing, electrocution (often anal electrocution), and neck breaking.
  • 20,000 Greyhounds are killed every year when they are deemed too slow to race. That is just one tiny portion of the animal entertainment sector, now think about the other ways animals are exploited for entertainment; circuses, zoos, marine parks, hunting, sports, fishing, rodeos, bull fighting, etc and the deaths just seem to become greater and greater. 

Oh, and did you know, that by law, milk is allowed to have a certain amount of red and white pus cells in it (400 million pus cells in a litre).

That’s certainly something to think about. 

There are so many incredible replacements, such as mock meat, dairy free cheeses, ice creams and milks, faux fur, faux leather and much much more. These days, there are vegan alternatives for everything and any meal can be made vegan. With all these cruelty free options so easily accessible to us, why choose mutilation, captivity and death? There has never been a better time to try vegan! 

So why not try vegan this January and lessen the death toll, even if it’s just for a month. All animals used in the meat, dairy and egg industry are sentient beings and have a right to life and freedom. Avoiding animal products is one of the most obvious ways you can take a stand against animal cruelty and animal exploitation everywhere.

You can sign up to take part in Veganuary here, for free. 

Peace & Love, Sian

All facts, stats and figures were found on Veganuary, Viva!, PETA and Animal Equality.

2 thoughts on “Veganuary #2: For The Animals

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