Compared to previous times, modern American society is characterized in history as a time when more people are starting to embrace differences and develop tolerance for others. Examples include the alleviating discrimination of certain groups of people today; although it still exists, it does so at a lesser extent with more people willing to stand up for those injustices. However, despite all this progress, some say there is still one issue that many refuse to recognize as an actual problem in society today: the exploitation of animals.
Every year, roughly 60 billion land animals and one trillion marine animals are killed as commodities for our food tendencies. The numbers alone are shocking but it is the utterly inhumane methods of slaughter that take the shock factor a step further. Prior to being slaughtered, most animals are stunned to ensure a quick process, and often, the stunning process is considered to be very disturbing.
The most common method of stunning is using a “captive bolt” pistol that rams a rod through the animal’s forehead to produce massive brain injury. This does not kill the animal completely because the heart is needed to pump blood even after the throat is slit. Other stunning methods are via electric shocks or carbon dioxide, both of which are meant to render the animal unconscious but not dead. And, with other types of meat, the animal is required to bleed to death instead. Regardless of the practice, the slaughtering of animals is a brutal and sadistic process.
But it doesn’t just stop there. Even before they are killed or stunned, these animals face a lifetime of incredible torture in factory farms, which account for raising 95% of the animals used for food. In some factory farms, animals are crammed into impossibly tiny spaces. For example, in regions that haven’t outlawed it yet, each hen is given a space less than the size of a sheet of copy paper. Furthermore, hens spend their entire lives in wire-rimmed cages which wears away their skin and causes sores and bruises.
Similarly, most pigs are kept in crates that don’t give them enough space to even turn around, which makes it all the worse for the sows who are forced to live most of their lives in gestation. Not only does it provide extreme discomfort for these animals, but pig urine is also heavily concentrated with ammonia, hence most pigs develop lung lesions from the poor air quality in farms. Other factors such as the extent of the unsanitariness, the complete lack of sunlight, and the persistent infestation of diseases in factory farms make for absolutely undesirable living conditions for these animals.
These two examples of animal cruelty are only a couple from a nowhere near exhausted list. However, every single form of mistreatment follows one pattern, which is the complete disregard for animal rights. But animals are not objects for us to exploit, slaughter, mutilate, and mistreat. Animals are living creatures with thoughts and feelings; they are creatures that hold the same fears of pain and death as humans. And we have gone far too long refusing to acknowledge that.
With such cruelties being revealed and discussed more and more, it is said that the time to make the effort and truly connect with these animals has come; a time for people to advocate for change. And, one of the easiest ways to be a catalyst for change is by going vegan. Veganism is the conscious decision to not eat any animal products and for those who choose to be vegan guarantees a 100% animal cruelty-free lifestyle.
Through such efforts, we need to begin extending the empathy and tolerance we have obtained through the years to these animals, who are really not that different from humans. And maybe then, when we realize the consequences of our actions and act out of empathy, will humanity take the next step to building a better future, one that does not neglect the weak.
Joyce Kim, Grade 9
La Canada High School