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Animals Have Feelings Too

Eating a nutritional and balanced diet is essential for survival. In America, there is a large population of people who consume meat, dairy, and animal-based products. Also, several individuals choose to stick with a plant-based diet. There are several reasons why people choose to consume animal products instead of plant-based products. Unlike a plant-based diet, consuming animal products provides a readily available source of energy, proteins, minerals, and vitamins that are crucial to human health. Meat sources contain amino acids, iron, zinc, riboflavin, vitamins B12 and B6, and other important minerals and vitamins for brain functioning and growth. Eggs and milk products contain calcium, iodine, choline, and vitamins A and B2, in addition to nutrients that come from meat directly. Most people are unaware of the process it takes to be able to buy and eat dairy, meat, or eggs.


The term “factory farming” refers to a “system of farming in which a lot of animals are kept in a small, closed area, to produce a large amount of meat, eggs, or milk as cheaply as possible.” Land-based animals, which include chickens, cows, fish, goats and sheep, pigs, and turkeys live in factory farms and receive torturous and cruel treatment. Most of the meat, eggs, and dairy sold in American grocery stores comes from factory farms. 


Chickens are exploited the most for food compared to other land-based animals that live in factory farms. More than 9 billion chickens are killed every year for food in the United States. Methods of increasing the growth of chickens rapidly are often practiced in factory farms. This treatment causes problematic health issues involving organs, the heart, and the legs. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) protects farm animals from suffering and inhumane treatment when slaughtered. Unfortunately, chickens are not protected under the act and therefore suffer, experience immense pain, and are treated more harshly than farm animals protected under the act. 


Every year in the United States, 380 million hens are abused to ensure the egg industry remains successful. Forced to live in small cages, many are unable to move and spread their wings. The stress hens experience increases which later turns into aggressive behavior toward one another. To deter aggressive behavior, “beak conditioning” which means removing beaks from hens, is the solution. 


Cows living in dairy farms experience severe abuse, including tail docking, horn removal, and branding, just to produce milk. Calves are separated at a young age and given milk substitutes instead of their mother’s milk, males are often slaughtered for veal, and females are forced to become pregnant for milk production and slaughtered when they can no longer produce milk.


Every year, over 130 million pigs, usually factory farmed, are slaughtered in the United States. Thousands of pigs are forced into small, confined spaces with barely any room to move. Female pigs are forced to give birth and care for their young in small crates. Piglets become aggressive, bite each other, and can engage in cannibalistic behaviors. To prevent further aggressive behavior, farmers inflict severe pain by cutting the teeth and tails of piglets. 


Labels on meat, dairy products, and eggs, are important to understand if the product came from factory-farmed animals or animals who were humanely treated. Choose products with labels that state, “certified humane”, “global animal partnership”, “USDA organic”, “pasture-raised”, “free-range”, “cage-free”, “hormone free”, “rBGH-free”, “r-BST-free”, and “no hormones added.” Avoid products with labels that state, “humanely raised”, “natural and naturally raised”, and “vegetarian fed.”


Edited by: Kavya Venkateshwaran

Photo by: World Animal Protection

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