Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Animal Suffering & Compassion

"You can judge a nation, and its moral progress, by the way it treats its animals." - Mohandas Gandhi

About 95% of all animals killed in North America are killed for food every year. In Canada, over 1.5 million animals are killed for their flesh each and every day. The majority of them live and die in factory farms, where their suffering is hidden from most of us.

Anyone who shares their home with a cat or a dog knows that these animals have feelings; they experience joy and fear, and retreat from pain. A chicken doesn't feel any less pain than a cat, a dog, a cow, or for that matter, a human being.

We've been conditioned however, to view food animals as commodities instead of living, feeling beings and throughout our history, we have justified our exploitation of other animals as necessary, if not kind.

But today, as our knowledge of animals and nutrition increases, and with the abundance and variety of healthy, meat-free foods available, there really is no excuse. As Franz Kakfa said, "Now I can look at you in peace; I don't eat you anymore."

When we begin to look at animals as individuals rather than products, we see that they are just as vulnerable as we are and therefore equally deserving of compassion and respect.
  • age at which dairy calves from factory farms are taken from their mothers: less than 24 hours
  • percentage of dairy calves taken from their mothers within 24 hours of birth: 90%
  • pigs raised in total confinement factories (where they never see the light of day until being trucked to slaughter): 65 million
  • percentage of pigs that have pneumonia at time of slaughter: 70%
  • amount of veterinary care a farmed pig receives every four months: 12 minutes
  • percentage of commercial laying hens that spend their lives in 18 by 20 inch wire cages with at least six other birds: 99%
  • U.S. broiler chickens killed in 2004: more than 9 billion
  • percentage of U.S. fish catch thrown away each year: 22%

    “Do we, as humans, having an ability to reason and to communicate abstract ideas verbally and in writing, and to form ethical and moral judgments using the accumulated knowledge of the ages, have the right to take the lives of other sentient organisms, particularly when we are not forced to do so by hunger or dietary need, but rather do so for the somewhat frivolous reason that we like the taste of meat?” - Peter Cheeke, PhD, Contemporary Issues in Animal Agriculture

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