All posts filed under: Animal Rights

Beaked Up Birds: A Review of Big Chicken

A Review of Big Chicken by Maryn McKenna. National Geographic (September 12, 2017) 400 pages.   People began cultivating plants and animals on a large scale about 10,000 years ago. Farming created a steady supply of nutrients, and acted as an insurance policy so that our ancestors weren’t constantly beholden to the whims of weather and the migration of animals. Of course, weather also affected crops, and farm animals sometimes escaped their pens or were killed by parasites. But settled agriculture allowed us to spread risk over longer periods of time and across more people. Agriculture brought with it enormous benefits, including a larger trading network, a greater division of labor, and even some genetic changes that we’re better off with than without. But it also exposed us to new risks, including a less diverse source of nutrients, and new pathogens (some of the genetic consequences of agriculture are a product of our new diet and new pathogens: those who didn’t adapt were culled by the invisible hand of natural selection). When we began to domesticate animals, …

The Case Against Factory Farming

Imagine a world in which every time you tied your shoes, you contributed to a process that resulted in the unintended death of thousands of people around the world. In this world, like ours, shoelaces are useful: they save time, are a little cheaper than using Velcro ties, and more convenient than wearing slip-on shoes. But when everyone ties their shoes, lots of people die, and many more suffer. This is a strange world to imagine, but it is a lot like the world we live in. The culprit isn’t tying shoelaces, of course, but consuming factory farmed meat. Factory farms are wicked places – one of the last bastions of legally sanctioned cruelty toward animals. But more than this, they are bad for human health. Like many practices, there are benefits as well as costs: meat from factory farms is cheaper than meat from free-range animals, often about half the price. This is partly because factory farms allow animals to occupy less space, which makes their production cheaper, and this savings is passed on …

Struggling to Ditch Meat? Here Are Five Ways to Resist the Temptation

Are you a conflicted carnivore – loving meat but also hating that you love it? Perhaps you are worried about the carcinogenic, heart-clogging properties of cooked meat or the industry’s use of antibiotics creating threatening superbugs. Maybe you’re ashamed of all the wasted water and food that goes into meat production and the deforestation and damaging emissions caused by animal agriculture. Many of us also simply struggle to accept the justifications used to defend the killing of intelligent, emotionally sensitive animals. But despite all the great reasons to opt for vegetarian alternatives, you might find that when you sit there in a restaurant with a menu in your hand, you simply cannot resist the smoky, umami-infused aroma of grilled hamburgers or sizzling, mouth-watering bacon. You wouldn’t be alone – initial findings recently presented at a conference suggests that more than 30% of meat eaters in the US, Germany and France are conflicted about eating animals. Here are five ways in which psychology may be able to help. Be prepared Most of our eating is mindless, …