Do you consider yourself a pet lover? Do you love animals in general? Can you imagine yourself as a little boy in a trailer far away from the depths of socialization? Once upon a time there was this boy, and this boy had a friend. No matter how hard times got he had Bo. The boy was incredibly happy because he had always dreamed of having a dog like that, a companion. Then your friend dies and you are left standing. Can you imagine the pain?
Nobody likes to lose a good friend or a pet, and the majority of the population loves animals. However, evidence points that people don't like animals as much as they claim to because the majority of the population tends to over look the genocide that exists this very instance. Gandhi once wrote, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated"(Why Vegan? 1) Gandhi brings up a good point because the issue of Animal Rights is in fact an issue of one's moral code.
To define the morality and ethics, this paper will refer to Ayn Rand's definition taken from the book, The Virtue of Selfishness. Rand describes itthis way, "It is a code of values to guide a man's choices and actions that determine the purpose of his life" (Rand 13). Can the common animal lover really love animals that much and is it in their moral code to protect the living? Maybe they would if they were presented with the facts about vivisection and the meat industry. The truth of the matter is, people don't love animals as much as they claim to, because they allow mistreatment, support companies that practice Vivisection, and the majority of the population still eats meat.
The first form of oppression comes from probably one of the most grotesquely cruel practices of all. Did you know that from buying your toothpaste to buying your cosmetics, you open yourself up for the opportunity to participate in the funding of Vivisection? PETA, an international non profit organization designed to protect the rights of animals has defined the term as, "Vivisection is the practice of experimenting on live animals" (PETA 1). Let's start with the large amount of animals Vivisection effects. The American Anti-Vivisection Society reports that, "Between 25 and 50 million animals are killed in American Laboratories each Year"(www.aavs.org/Doc). Animal's such as mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, cats, dogs, primates, sheep, cows, and pigs are subjected to the effects of Vivisection. The tests are conducted by government agencies, corporations, hospitals, the military, and chemical companies. The single largest financier and advocate of vivisection would have to be The National Institutes of Health(NIH). The saddest part about this is that we as taxpayers are paying for the inhumane and cruel treatment of animals. Every time we pay our taxes we are supporting Vivisection. The American Anti-vivisection Society states that, "These animals can be subjected to a mydraid of painful procedures. They are burned, starved, irradiated, shocked, mutilated, kept in isolation, poisoned, drugged, electrocuted, and the list goes on and on"(www.aavs.org/Docs/). The tests range from a monkey's eyes being sewn shut for long periods of times, to a dog's eyes getting burned by radiation, and even so far as to subject fully conscience cats and dogs to surgery with no anesthetic. When they are done, if they survive they are then reused for more tests. Often times, animals such as dogs and cats are silenced through a grotesque procedure. This process which consists of cutting the animals vocal chords to silence the specimen. The most common type of test used by corporations is the Draize test. The Draize test is used for testing the safety of the corporation's product. Sidney Gidens put it best in his essay entitled "The Use of Animals in Science", where Gidens says "Named after it's inventor, John Draize, who developed the method in 1944. The test consists of placing rabbits in stocks that immobilize their heads and then dropping the substance to be tested into one eye, using the other eye as a controller"(Regan 199). These tests are often conducted over elongated periods of time, and usually the fate of the animal is blindness, sometimes death, and always pain. Rabbits are the most commonly used animal involved in Draize testing because their tear ducts are too inefficient to dilute the harmful substances being drained into their eyes.
One of the most common arguments for Vivisection would have to be the scientific fable of the impression of helping mankind. This point is not valid, for the fact that computers and technology have revolutionized the field. Often times the researchers have no central data base to store information that is not even needed so the tests are continued over and over again. PETA states, "Computer modeling shows great promise for testing human responses to various stimuli, and many drug and cosmetics companies already use artificial skin to gauge the biological responses of human skin to their products"(PETA 2). Since there are no efficient databases to hold information gathered from these tests, it therefore must be repeated, and this costs money as well as the lives of millions of innocent animals. They have the capability to feel just we humans do, and we as humans should strive to be humane. When you take a baby cow from its mother,that mother cow is going to morn and feel sad. Even worse, if you were to perform live surgery on that animal and drip poison into eyes all day ,well then that animal is going to feel pain. The truth is that Vivisection wastes money and lives that could otherwise be spared.
"The average American consumes 120 pounds of beef each year. Our carnivorous needs must also be condoned. To meet this enormous demand, Western Civilization has developed the ultimate killing machine to feed the hungry masses. It's called the slaughter-house"(Faces of Death). I have seen a cow's head placed inside a metal face cage. After the cage is locked the cows throat is then cut and the animal is left to bleed to death. This method is known as Koshering. It only makes up a small percent of the killing of animals because it is not in high demand. The process requires that the animal bleeds to death as a cleansing process. "The cow chokes on his own blood. I could only feel pity" (Faces of Death).
This institutionalized form of cruelty is also known as Factory Farming and is fueled by America's fast food culture. Other supporters of the consumption of meat are religion, culture, and history. Animal agriculture is commonly being replaced by corporate farming. "More than 90% of farmed animals in the US are raised in these intensive confinement systems. The intensive systems are promoted and defended as necessary for the production of low-cost meat"(Why Vegan? 2). To receive a greater total in net production, animals are often overcrowded to the point where the animals die. Take a look in the agriculture magazine NATIONAL HOG FARMER. In the November 93 edition there is an article entitled "Overcrowding Pigs Pay". This title alone tells you how the economics involved in this form of death, obviously out weighs the compassion one might otherwise possess. Dr. Bernard Rollin states that is, "more economically efficient to put a greater number of birds into each cage, accepting lower productivity per bird but greater productivity per cage...individual animals produce, for example gain weight, in part because they are immobile, yet suffer because of the inability to move...Chickens are cheap, cages are expensive"(Why Vegan? 2) Animals are usually locked up in buildings with no windows crowed with hundreds to tens of thousands of other animals. They are also subject to extreme weather conditions, such as extreme heat and extreme cold. Animals have been genetically mutated to become higher yielding products. These murders use methods like gene splicing, and selective breeding. There are also hormones administrated as well as unnatural feeding schedules. It is truly repugnant to think of the effects of genetic mutation on animals. I have seen cows with breasts unnaturally huge to carry more milk. "Unnaturally large amounts of flesh cause the animal to suffer joint inflammation and pain that is aggravated by the concrete, slatted metal, or wire mesh floors"(Why Vegan? 2). If that's not enough animals are harmed a number of other ways in slaughterhouses. Like castration, which involves cutting the animals testicles off with a knife, with no anesthetic for economic purposes. Not to mention the number of times a cow is branded with third degree burns.
The methods of death are largely abundant, in fact so that one could write a book and call it the "101 Ways Animals Die in the Slaughterhouse". If animals don't die from disease first, then they have to first be transported to a corporate farm. The transportation process is like the slave-ships from Africa, in the fact that for economical reasons the animals are overcrowded and left to live in each other's excrement. There are diseases such as shipping fever that often take the lives of many animals involved in the transportation process. The weather can be a largely overlooked method of death for these innocent animals. "Because chickens lose feathers in rough living conditions, transport in freezing weather results in frozen body parts, causing severe pain"(Why Vegan? 5). Many animals are frozen in place by their own manure. The trauma inflicted from such joyrides to the slaughterhouse have produced "downers". Downers are animals that are too weak and sick to function. Even when electrocuted and beaten, the animal refuses to go on. "Approximately 350,000 dairy cows are downers each year"(Why Vegan? 5) Animals that are downers are often beaten and dragged by chains still alive to the "deadpile". Another form of death comes from a practice called captive bolt head stunning. A device that resembles somewhat of a pistol is aimed at the animal's head. A metal rod is shot into the brain, often times missing the point of unconsciousness and therefore must be repeated. Remember that shooting a struggling animal can be difficult and require a sufficient amount of practice. Next we come to Electric head stunning, when an electric stunner is used to give the animal a seizure. After the animal is shocked where it is often not unconsciousness and still susceptible to feeling pain, the animals throat is cut. Animals can regain consciousness after a second. Some animals even undergo the skinning process still alive. Farming has become the number one threat to our nation's animals.
Some common arguments for the beef industry would be the all classic, meat is good for you. It is supposed to contain vitamins and minerals that are not otherwise found. However, this argument is not true, it is a fact that vegetarians and vegans have a far healthier diet than a meat eater. Michael Klaper, MD has stated that, "The human body has no more need for cow's milk than it does for dog's milk, horses' milk, or giraffes' milk"(Why Vegan? 9). In fact plant foods have been known to protect the body from cancer. Animal foods like meat, can raise the risk for cancer because of the compounds found in it. Vegetarians don't have to worry about heart disease associated with saturated fat from red meat. Another common argument is that it has been going on forever, since primitive man.
Are we not intelligent and rational beings, aren't we no longer primitive? What if the slaughter house had glass walls and was connected to your favorite restaurant. Would you want to pick the animal of your choice and then watch it be murdered? Would that hamburger taste as good? "Slaughterhouses should be in restaurants and grocery stores. They should have a glass wall so that people must see the animal they choose. Look into that animals eyes and say , "OK, slit his throat" (Why Vegan? 5). Are these animals ours to enslave and murder, or are they God's creatures?
It all boils down to oppressive power structures and the way that they are designed. Oppressive power structures are institutions of thought created to oppress the weaker race, ethnicity, gender, and species. The struggle for Animal Rights and the issues involved are no different than the struggle for women's rights. They are both used as biological machines, one confined to a life of reproduction and domesticity, and the other confined to life of torture and death. People, often times, argue that humans are smarter than animals so it doesn't matter. If we are so smart , than can't we realize that Vivisection and the Meat industry are wrong? If you enslave and mistreat your animal you're probably going to do the same thing to your child. It all comes back to morals. Speciesism is the belief that our society is the only one worthy of ethical consideration. This promotes the idea that those who are weaker and indifferent are to be exploited because we can do so. "All arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering, the animals are our equals"(Why Vegan? 14). If we allow humans to live, then why not animals?
There are a number of things one can do to help fight against the atrocities discussed in this paper. The first and most crucial thing that should be done is going Vegetarian. Which is the process of not eating meat, for more information you can check out this veggie page, http://www.veg.org/veg/. Then there is the practice of Veganism which is the denial of all animal byproducts like milk, eggs, etc. For more information of Veganism one could consult the informative website located at, www.veganoutreach.org/. Another thing to do would be to check out PETA, by writing to them at People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals, P.O. Box 42516, Washington, DC 20015. You can also check out the American Anti-Vivisection Society web page at http://www.aavs.org. For a list of animal safe products one can consult this informative website, www.allforanimals/cruelfree.html. Without participating in the movement for Animal Rights can we really call ourselves animal lovers? When you consume animal products with the information given in this text can you really say that you love your animals?
This paper was written in loving memory of my dog BoBo, and is dedicated to the billions dead and to the progress of the Animal Rights movement as a whole. With the facts presented in this paper it can only be said that we as Americans obviously don't love animals as much as we claim too.