Growing public concerns about cruel treatment of animals on factory farms has some food sellers labeling products to indicate that farm animals are being humanely treated.  These claims can be misleading and may not be in accordance with what consumers assume.

While some animals might suffer less than others, they still suffer at some point.  The “free-roaming” and “humanely treated” labels provide no assurance.  Hens in cage-free operations are crowded in barns by the thousands.  “Cage-free” doesn’t mean they have access to the outdoors; and “free-roaming” or “free-range” hens who do have outdoor access might likely be restricted, since there are no limits to flock size or definitions on the design of the outdoor area.  Further, the USDA relies solely upon the testimony of the producers (now, there’s a good “fox watching the hen house” analogy).

Male chicks are still thrown live into grinders or suffocated; and all hens in egg production have the ends of their beaks removed with hot blades and NO anesthesia, causing some to die of starvation and dehydration.  This also renders it painful for most of the others to eat and drink.

Ultimately, these birds still go to slaughter, where they experience cruel handling and botched kills where they end up shackled by their feet and likely scalded alive in the de-feathering tanks.  Imagine being hung upside down and going into a scalding hot tub of water head first.  We can’t tolerate the thought, yet we impose this on other feeling beings.

Dairy cows, no matter how the animals are raised, still wear out after just a few years in production due to the physical trauma of being constantly impregnated and producing milk.  Male calves, useless to the dairy industry, are either slaughtered or kept chained in dark crates for months before being slaughtered..  Eventually, all dairy cows are destined for brutal slaughter, no matter how they have been raised.

Ultimately, all factory farm animals experience the same unavoidable, horrific end at the slaughterhouse.  They are bled out by having their throats slit and many are literally butchered alive and die slowly, piece by piece.  No matter how well the animals may have been treated (and it’s a long stretch of the imagination to assume humane treatment), their lives are cut short violently, abruptly and painfully.  According to www.farmsanctuary.org, “When animals are seen primarily as production units or commodities for sale (whether on factory farms or so-called ‘humane’ operations), the animals’ welfare tends to be secondary to economic concerns.”

Clearly, the only way to know we’re not supporting multiple forms of cruelty is to not consume animal flesh or commercial dairy products.  To find great egg  and dairy substitutes, simply search the web, your grocery store, or the websites of HSUS, PETA, Farm Sanctuary and PCRM, to name a few.

We can lead by example and help promote compassion by reducing or eliminating our consumption of flesh and its byproducts.  With so much information so readily available nowadays, it’s easier than ever to switch to a better way of eating that promotes good health and alleviates a lifetime of horrific misery and suffering for sentient beings.

– Annoula Wylderich

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