Helping Animals

By Kristen Johnson

Next month, voters in Massachusetts have the opportunity to protect farm animals from extreme confinement. They will vote on whether or not to ban things like veal crates for baby cows, gestation crates for mama pigs, and cages for hens who lay eggs. (Huffington Post)

Unfortunately, there is just one federal law governing “humane” treatment for farm animals. The law says nothing about how animals are to be treated during their lifetimes, and only applies to the actual moment of slaughter. Chickens and other animals that make up 90% of animals slaughtered are completely exempted from the law. (Huffington Post).

Although we are seeing more and more of these types of laws going before voters, serious change is needed. Instead of simply “reforming” the current system, it would be much better to just ban it altogether. But, given that Americans will likely insist on eating animals (in the name of culture perhaps?) – any positive change is better than the current system. I can strongly suggest that absolutely everyone read the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (a professor at UC Berkeley). I made it through about thirty pages nine years ago and I haven’t eaten a single piece of meat since then!

Eating animals is cruel, not only because an animal has to die for your dinner (which is completely unnecessary because  humans can survive and thrive on a plant-diet) but because of how the animals are treated during their lifetimes.

Just a few details about the treatment of animals from the ASPCA:

PigsPigs tend to be extremely curious and intelligent, so their barren surroundings cause them extreme frustration. The tail-biting that sometimes results leads farms to cut off the ends of pigs’ tails, and their teeth, without painkillers.

Beef cattle:  They are branded, castrated and may have their horns removed without painkillers. Sometime between the ages of six months and one year, most beef cattle are sent to live their last few months in crowded feedlots with hundreds or thousands of others. Without pasture and often without shelter, the cattle must stand in mud, ice, and their own waste.

Broiler chickensWhile their breasts grow large to meet market demand, their skeletons and organs lag behind. Many suffer heart failure, trouble breathing, leg weakness and chronic pain. Some cannot support their own weight and become crippled, unable to reach food and water.The chickens live crammed together on the shed floor. Because they live in their own waste, high ammonia levels irritate and burn their eyes, throats and skin.

All of this information can be found in multiple, reputable sites online, as well as in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Additional information can be found in books such as Fast Food Nation, Farm Sanctuary and many, many others.

Psalm 50: 10-11 (NRSV): For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know all the birds of the air,[aand all that moves in the field is mine.

Massachusetts voters have a wonderful opportunity to reduce at least a little of the suffering of farm animals. Let’s hope they decide to be the change we all want to see in the world and that other states quickly follow suit.

Go vegan.

Serve all with love.


Photo courtesy of:


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