Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Monday, April 24, 2006

13 years!

Some facts that make me happy to be vegetarian and consider being vegan:

-Cost of hamburger meat if water used by meat industry was not subsidized by US taxpayers: $35/pound
-A report by the USDA estimates that 89% of US beef patties contain traces of the deadly E. coli strain. Reuters News Service 8/10/00
-Antibiotics allowed in cow's milk: 80
Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13%
Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1988: 91%

I've been looking into vegetarianism more and more lately and the reasons behind why I do not buy or eat meat. My number one reason has always been the environment; the large scale production of meat and meat products is one of the leading causes of deforestation and ruining of land, as well as being incredibly harmful to waterways, a large source of methane gases, extremely wasteful use of grains, water and land, and detrimental to the healthfulness of both the animal products produced and the vegetables produced on shared farmland or within the plume of factory farming waste.

I do not come from the viewpoint of it is immoral or wrong to kill an animal for eating, nor do I believe that occassional consumption of meat is detrimental to one's health. Yet the more I read about meat production in the United States today the more I feel that the way animal products are being produced today is morally reprehensible. From chickens that live in tiny cages for years on end never seeing the light of day or able to move their limbs, to the purposeful maiming of animals (beaks cut off or legs broken), to the yanking of a one day old dairy calf from its desolate and crying mother, I can't help but feel that mass production has led farmers to become the keepers of generation upon generation of tortured and tormented victims, rather than the farmers of old who reared animals for necessity and allowed them as natural a life as possible and as quick and clean a death as possible, with as much of the animal used as possible and very little wasted. That manner of honoring the life of the animal is long gone.

Not only have these industries suffered animals to live in a horrible manner, they also hurt the very consumers they sell to. Slaughter houses in particular have neglected the quality of the end product in favor of the quantity of the end product, with more meat than ever improperly handled and contaminated with e-coli. More eggs than ever are infected with Samonella and the amount of hormones, anti-biotics, dioxins, carcinogens, bacteria, and other toxins and contaminants found in animal products only continue to increase.

In the past my viewpoint was that I would not purchase these products and therefore would not support the industry that produced them. My feeling being that the only reason they treated animals worse and worse was to make the bottom line more profitable and that the only way I could make a significant statement would be to make it less profitable by refusing to purchase meat. Yet I see how this fails in certain ways. If I am no longer purchasing from the meat industry I am for all intensive purposes discounted-- I have no effect on them. I am NOT one of their customers, and as such why would my opinions hold any sway?

So I've been doing research on what I would consider to be more responsible farming. Organically grown, free-range, and pastured farmed animals neither live the horrific life, nor as dramatically contribute to the ecological decay that factory farmed animals do. Although there is little to say that the pasture raised animals are slaughtered more humanely or safely, it is still an improvement that I would like to support.

I've done a little (I plan to do more) research on companies supporting organic/environmentally conscious farming and ethical treatment of animals, and will be making an effort to support them...I will not be purchasing meat there, but will be buying other products with these companies. In this way I will not be supporting the grocery stores that support the unethical companies. Primarily I've found that Trader Joe's has been acting in a very pro-active manner regarding these issues, and perhaps even to a greater extent Whole Foods has been supporting it as well. In supporting these companies I am refusing to support those companies that buy, distribute, and in turn contribute to the prosperity of companies that put production and profits ahead of the environment, animal welfare and their own customer's health.

If you're interested here are some excellent articles on Trader Joe's & Whole Foods' efforts towards better animal treatment:

Whole Foods Market's "Compassionate Meat
Trader Joe's Goes to Cage Free eggs only

And for excellent info on Vegetarianism/Veganism and its related issues GoVeg is an great resource and is very interesting reading

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