Factory farming. Something that is ‘out of sight’ and thus ‘out of mind’ for the majority of the Australian populace. An unnecessary, atrocious treatment of animals. Factory farms are places where animals are reared in the shortest and quickest way possible, before being slaughtered. These farms began with the discovery of vitamins A and D, which could then be added to animal’s foods, meaning they had no need to take in sunlight. The discovery of antibiotics then allowed animals to be kept in an enclosed space, with no risk of disease spreading.
And also, the ever growing world provided an increase in the demand of meat, and thus all moral values with any integrity, had to be ignored in order to provide meat in the quickest, completely inhumane manner. Imagine living life, never seeing sunlight, never feeling its warm touch on your skin, never feeling soft green grass under your feet, never smelling the sweet flowers in a garden. Never even knowing what rain, or snow are, never even feeling a cool breeze on a warm summers night. That is what most animals in factory farms must do. And the saddest thing?
They never even know any different. Factory farmed animals live miserable lives in intensive confinement, in dark, overcrowded facilities. The animals undergo incredible pain and suffering. They have their genes manipulated and are pumped full of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals, all to encourage high productivity. The stress from over-crowding causes fighting amongst the animals, and so they are subject to convenient mutilations such as beak searing, tail docking, ear cutting and castration. All procedures are undertaken with no anaesthetic.
These animals are not even considered animals. They are simply food production machines. Can we really defend Australia’s simple desire for more meat, when it involves such inhumane treatment of animals? Charlie Arnot, the chief executive of the centre for food integrity in the US, and who wrote an opinion piece that appeared in the Australian national times in January this year, believes we can. He contends in his article titled ‘Nothing ethical in starving the poor’, that eliminating factory farms is impossible for the welfare of Australian citizens.
I quote him: ‘placing restrictions on the food system that inhibit farmers’ ability to produce more food with fewer resources will limit the availability of healthy, affordable food choices for all of us. ’ And that ‘unfortunately the greatest impact will be on those who can least afford it’. I cannot disagree with this statement. However, Jonathan Safran Foer, an eminent vegetarian, is quoted by Helen Green in her article that appeared in the age in September last year. He agrees that if we do want to eliminate factory farms, I quote him: ‘we have to eat much, much, much less, just because there isn’t enough earth on Earth’.
He says that ‘we pay the real cost – and people would eat a lot less’. However, he continues, asking, ‘is that such a bad thing? Given our losing battle with obesity in First World countries such as Australia, eating less seems like a positive’. Although I respect Arnot’s arguments, and can understand the need for food in a poverty stricken world, I agree with Foer, and I also believe that free-range farms can easily produce enough meat for Australia’s population. And, myself, coming from a family with three vegetarian sisters, cannot see any harm in not eating meat every single day.
I understand it can be seen as a dietary requirement, and thus the meat from free-range farms would easily suffice this requirement. I also agree with J. M Coetzee who wrote an article titled ‘Nothing Biblical in Factory Farming’ that appeared in the Sydney morning herald in December last year. He states that ‘it takes one glance into a slaughterhouse to turn a child into a lifelong vegetarian’. Coetzee, patron of ‘Voiceless’; the animal protection institute, asserts how incredibly wrong factory farming is, by comparing it to world war II, and the inhumane slaughter of humans by the Nazis.
He states that: ‘we cried out in horror, what an incredible crime to treat human beings like cattle’. He then states: ‘But our cry should more accurately have been: “what a terrible crime to treat any living human beings like units in an industrial process”’. And then: ‘But our cry might have had a postscript: “what a terrible crime, come to think of it, to treat any living being like a unit in an industrial process”’. Factory farming practices are indefensible and unjustifiable. Studies have shown that pigs are highly intelligent and lead complex social lives. They dream, they communicate with and learn from each other and play.
They are believed to have the equivalent intelligence of a human child over the age of 3. I know that when I was younger, I always wanted a pet pig instead of a dog. I’d researched and discovered that they are actually more intelligent than dogs, and extremely affectionate. And, I’m sure we’ve all seen or read the beautiful fairytale of charlotte’s web, involving an intelligent, loving and emotional pig named Wilbur. Intensive factory farming of pigs is widespread in Australia. In these factories, pregnant pigs are often kept in small metal cubicles that confine and isolate them.
These cubicles prevent them from even turning around, and cause severe physical and psychological trauma. Nursing mothers are unable to communicate with their babies who endure teeth clipping, tale lopping and castration without anaesthetic. This should constitute animal cruelty. In Victoria however, these practices are legally exempt from the reach of animal cruelty law. It is therefore, essentially legalised animal cruelty. As you can see behind me, I have a few photos of animals in factory farms, in comparison to the ones in free range farms.
It takes one simple glance at these photos in comparison to one another to know my decision. I will never eat factory farmed meat again, and if the rest of Australia can make that one simple choice too, we can eliminate factory farms for good. The media has given mixed opinions on this issue, however I do not believe that the extreme pain and suffering caused by Australian factory farms to innocent animals that know no better, can ever be justified. Factory farms are atrocious and unnecessary and should be eliminated.