While at this point in my life I would like us to stop killing animals so that we can eat their meat altogether, I acknowledge that this is not going to happen, not in my lifetime anyway, so I admit and support a workable alternative to the unending horrors of industrial slaughter, the small-scale, slow-paced, quality slaughterhouses that many, if not most, of us local farmers use...*(more pieces by Bob Comis at the Huffington Post and Grist)
The only failure I have seen in them is the one I have just described, and it is a failure that can be remedied. I am not sure exactly what that remedy would be, but one thing that comes to mind is to set up the slaughterhouses so that there is no last pig. That is, the last two pigs in a pen should be killed simultaneously. Whatever the remedy, for the sake of the last pig, and for us, there needs to be one.
...Comis has also demystified many of the terms tossed around by companies hawking their wares as more humane; explaining, for example, that pigs raised in “deeply bedded pens,” like an unknown number of Chipotle’s, are most often raised “intensively” in what are “essentially humane CAFOs”—that is, factory farms.The American Scholar: Loving Animals to Death
The Food Movement should be game for a serious discussion of this issue. Its own rhetoric urges us to “know where our food comes from” and to trace our ingredients “from farm to fork.” Leading figures in the movement would thus seem poised to embrace this line of ethical inquiry as a critical step in the larger effort to reform our “broken food system.” Animal agriculture is at the heart of almost every major ill that plagues industrial agriculture. Identify an agrarian problem—greenhouse gas emissions, overuse of antibiotics and dangerous pesticides, genetically modified crops, salmonella, E. coli, waste disposal, excessive use of water—and trace it to its ultimate origin and you will likely find an animal.
Given that centrality, it’s reasonable to expect the Food Movement to leap at the opportunity to grapple with the implications of Comis’s conundrum. Research shows that veganism, which obviates the inherent waste involved in growing the grains used to fatten animals for food in conventional systems, is seven times more energy efficient than eating meat and, if embraced globally, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from conventional agriculture by 94 percent. Any pretext to explore meat eating’s moral underpinnings—and possibly land upon an excuse for pursuing a plant-based diet as a viable goal—would be consistent with the movement’s anticorporate, ecologically driven mission.
But with rare exception, those in the big, lumpy tent have thrown down a red carpet for “ethical butchers” while generally dismissing animal rights advocates as smug ascetics (which they can be) and crazed activists (ditto) who are driven more by sappy sentiment than rock-ribbed reason. It’s an easy move to make. But the problem with this dismissal—and the overall refusal to address the ethics of killing animals for food—is that it potentially anchors the Food Movement’s admirable goals in the shifting sands of an unresolved hypocrisy. Let’s call it the “omnivore’s contradiction.”
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