|Talkin' loud, but sayin' nothin'|
For me and many others, animals under the care of people (i.e., pets and zoo animals) deserve as high a quality of life as possible. This extends to livestock (cows, pigs, chicken, etc.) destined for dining room tables.
Recently, I watched a Facebook video clip that secretly exposed the inhumane manner in which most livestock are raised. It was disgusting and offended every fiber of my being. In less than a minute, a hidden camera fast-forwarded through the birth-and-slaughter cycle of a “factory farm” calf. The mini-documentary was a call to action to cease foul treatment of God’s creatures.
Yet in the end, like most folks, I’m probably not going to do anything about it – even though I believe the treatment livestock suffer in those places is wrong.
More than 90 percent of farm animals raised in the United States are funneled through factory farms. These farms are large, industrial operations that raise massive numbers of animals for food. Like most large scale businesses, factory farms focus on productivity and efficiency for the sake of profit. Animal welfare is secondary.
As coordinator of Good Food Battle Creek (GFBC), I consider myself a journeyman foodie. GFBC is a local group of agencies and individuals working to address our broken food system by providing information and education to residents. We are currently in the process of developing plans to take a more proactive role that supplements our whole information/education shtick.
That half-minute “life of a calf” documentary affected me. Considering my level of distaste (to put it mildly) of the way calves and cows are treated, it would seem a simple matter to remove beef from my diet. I rarely eat it and my wife rarely serves it.
Here’s the disappointing truth: despite knowing what I know, I’m still eating beef. Even though it’s not a regular home menu item or a staple when dining out. Even though I know it’s contributing to a system of mistreatment of animals, which is contrary to my stated values, I’m going to order it.
I like a juicy, medium-well burger with all the works now and then. Same with steak. Mom never should have turned me on the Porterhouse cut; I’m hooked and need my fix every couple of months.
Levity aside, a burning question sears my conscience. If a self-described social justice advocate like me can be overlook the callous treatment of calves and other animals in the name of nutrition that can be achieved by alternative food choices, how can I hold other human beings accountable with respect to other social issues? I’m talking racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism and all the other –isms plaguing society.
Some argue there’s a difference between human beings and animals. Does that legitimize the pain and mistreatment imposed on them? Frankly when you think about it, the whole “there’s a difference between them and us” argument has historically justified the oppression and mistreatment of entire races and classes of people by dominant groups.
This week on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Harry Reid stated he was “stunned” that National Football League officials are more concerned about how much air is in a football than with a racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans across the country. He is, of course, referring to the NFL team in Washington, DC.
In many respects, my love of beef and the Washington, DC, team owner’s desire to keep his team’s racist name share something in common: lack of moral conviction.
It’s easy to armchair quarterback your values. It’s all-together different when it comes to transforming values into action. It takes getting down off your high horse and practicing what you say you believe.
A lotta times that ain’t easy. Not because of the effort involved but because of your ego. That and giving up a way of being that’s comfortable and familiar. In the end it’s worth it.
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.