Here's a thought-provoking article on the ethical aspects of meat eating from our very own columnist - HIMANSHU BHATT - featured in The SUN on 19th November, 2009.
FOOD ANIMALS: The neglected holocaust
RALPH Waldo Emerson once commented that one reason a person can enjoy meat is that the dining table is concealed "a graceful distance of miles" from the slaughterhouse. He was right.
Most of us are so conditioned to a diet consisting of meat that we ignore the process involved in getting it to our plates. As we chomp merrily away at our steak, our eyes and taste-buds are shielded from the violence that is making graveyards of our stomachs.
For the sight of systematic breeding and slaughter of millions of animals would be like a vision of Hell. Live chickens dipped in scalding water, lambs cramped in small crates, cows with cracked spines hanging on conveyor belts; these are but some of the ruthless conditions millions of innocent animals endure everyday because we create the demand for them to undergo such lives.
Now, in an effort to stir some awareness towards the plight of food animals, a group of concerned people, moved by the debauchery behind the food and livestock industries, have put together an unusual crusade – a Meatless Day campaign – where individuals are encouraged to pledge to be vegetarian for one day on Nov 25.
Considering that most people eat meat, this campaign may seem bizarre or way against the odds. But the initiative is propelled by a deeper profound thrust, one that appeals to a nation’s collective conscience and reasoning.
It is the brute reality of our natural universe that to survive, one life form must devour another; that to persevere physically, one must ingest and absorb the organic remains of the other. Certainly, if one lives in the wild, the need for survival would demand that one partakes in the struggle for survival. But how many of us actually live in the wild, genuinely taking part in the food chain of nature? Few, if any.
The fact of our modern lifestyle is this – the animals we eat are bred specially for us. Each year, trillions of mammals and many more birds are butchered for food all across the world, many in unimaginable circumstances. Yet, few of us make any conscious connection between the bloody treatment these animals get and the meat products that have become part of our diet.
Most animals bred for the table are hardly allowed outdoors. In many abattoirs, calves spend their whole lives chained in wooden boxes that are so small that they cannot move or turn around, and are made to lie in their own excrement, forced to inhale the ammonia gases instead of the fresh air outdoors. Pigs in factory farms receive a battery of injections soon after birth and many have their teeth pulled out with pliers. No pain relief is given, not even when their tails are cut off.
There have been reports that livestock, poultry and fish are often force-fed with massive doses of antibiotics and growth hormones to be bred and raised for maximising profits.
An American cattleman, Herb Silverman, once narrated the experience of castrating a calf to John Robbins, the author of Diet for a New America: "I hate castrating them. It’s really horrible. After you put a ring on its scrotum the calf will lie down and kick and wring its tail for half an hour or more, before the scrotum finally goes numb. It’s obviously in agony. Then it takes about a month before its balls fall off. You can do it faster with a special kind of pliers, but I can’t bear to use those because I can’t take how they carry on."
The savagery of beasts is not for us. The human race has transcended other life-forms in intellectual perception and, possibly, in philosophical understanding. It is precisely in view of this that, in Mahatma Gandhi’s words, "we err in copying the lower world when we are superior to it."
Evolved in their culture, in their collective wisdom, humans, of all living beings, have developed an understanding of pain and suffering to be sympathetic towards the plight and existence of other creatures within the environment.
And the abundant varieties of vegetables, fruit, grains and nuts that the Earth has supplied us with can easily provide, under ordinary circumstances, for the nutritional needs of a person in a humane and ecologically benign way.
Yet, it baffles the mind how such an intelligent, progressive race as ours can continue to sit idle, allowing billions of sentient beings to be killed regularly, making death pits of our stomachs, when there is a more non-violent alternative?
Indeed, the systematic slaughter of trillions of lives over the thousands of years has been the single most neglected holocaust to be perpetrated in the history of human civilisation.
Himanshu, a lifelong vegetarian, is theSun’s Penang bureau chief.
BLOGGER'S NOTE: Kudos to all all who campaign on animal rights! Not only it is unethical and unhealthy to consume meat, it also help rid more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere! So, BE VEG, GO GREEN AND SAVE THE PLANET!
Source of article: http://www.sun2surf.com/article.cfm?id=40405