Animal Rights, Top Stories

Why It’s Time to End Factory Farming

Ezra Klein and Sam Harris are usually intellectual adversaries. They butted heads earlier this year on the topic of the science of IQ, which was just one battle in the larger war waged by the “intellectual dark web” against mainstream leftism and identity politics.

Yet Klein and Harris are united on one seemingly radical view: Many years from now, our descendants will look back on the use of animals for food—particularly the intense animal suffering in factory farms—as a moral atrocity. In fact, a wide range of public figures have now echoed similar predictions, including science educator Bill Nye, business magnate Richard Branson, Indian politician Maneka Gandhi, author Steven Pinker, and the late conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer.

It might seem surprising that the plight of these neglected creatures—by numbers, around 93 percent of farmed animals are chickens and fish—is so compelling an issue given the fact that humans are still plagued by disease, oppression, war, inequality, and other pressing social issues. Many people would assert that human issues are categorically more important than animal issues, and that it is anathema to compare animal and human exploitation.

Yet consider these three facts: First, there are over 100 billion farmed animals alive at this moment—more than ten times the number of humans.

Second, over 90 percent (over 99 percent in the US) of these animals live on industrial, large-scale factory farms enduring atrocious cruelty such as intense confinement in tiny cages, brutal mutilation and slaughter methods, and rampant health issues from artificial breeding.

Third, today we have scientific consensus that these are sentient beings; they can feel happiness and suffering. Incredibly, around 87 percent of US adults agree with the statement, “Farmed animals have roughly the same ability to feel pain and discomfort as humans.”

Factory farmed pigs

If we put these facts together, then we see animal farming as more than an abstract system of machinery and livestock. Animal farming is the moral catastrophe of one sentient being with a heartbreaking life story, plus another sentient being… plus another… plus another… plus another… more than one hundred billion times. Historian Yuval Noah Harari, author of the books Sapiens and Homo Deus, even suggested that animal farming is “one of the worst crimes in history.”

Fortunately, I believe that even if humanity can’t muster the moral strength to tackle this issue, there’s an ace in the hole for the end of animal farming: sheer inefficiency. Farmed animals consume calories and nutrients from plants, and they use that energy to do a lot more than produce meat, dairy, and eggs. They have all the normal bodily functions like breathing, movement, and growing by-products like hoofs, organs, and hair. These processes mean that farmed animals have a caloric conversion ratio of 10:1 or more. For every ten calories of food we feed them, we get at most around one calorie of meat in return. And for every ten grams of plant-based protein, we get at most two grams of animal-based protein.

This inefficiency is an inevitable consequence of using sentient beings as a food source, and it’s the main reason for the environmental devastation. Animal farming is full of waste, both in terms of literal pollution like the tons of chicken manure filling the Chesapeake Bay, and in terms of wasted land, water, energy, and money.

Culinary professionals and food scientists are increasingly cutting this waste by taking the constituents of animal products (fats, proteins, nutrients, water) directly from plants and assembling them into “plant-based meat.” They are also making “cell-based meat” (also known as “clean meat”), which is real animal meat made by growing cells outside of an animal’s body. This meat is molecularly identical to conventional meat, without the ethical and food safety costs.

So a big reason for optimism about the end of animal farming is that it doesn’t have to be the end of meat.

This is really just another step in a long road of using technology to replace the use of animals. Think about the horses who were replaced by cars. Cars do the same thing horses do—they move people from one place to another—but without all the crap. In 1898, urban planners met in New York City to tackle the growing problem of streets filling up with over four million pounds of horse manure every day. They struggled to find a solution, but within a few decades, cars solved the problem for them due to pure efficiency.

The brilliant upside is that even if animal farming primarily ends for efficiency reasons, it will likely result in a great expansion of humanity’s moral circle. Once we’re no longer eating animals three times a day, we’ll no longer be burdened with the cognitive dissonance that comes from caring about animals while participating in their suffering.

We love animals. We really do. Think of the connections children can immediately form with animals—before they understand that animal bodies are on their dinner plates, and well before they’ve heard of the horrors of factory farming. Once animal farming has been greatly reduced, the human-animal connection will see a renaissance, a rediscovery of its full and compelling nature.

This will taint the legacies of modern humans who participate in animal farming. Just as we modern humans condemn our ancestors for atrocities we feel we’ve transcended today—such as slavery, genocide, and the worst forms of human oppression—there won’t be anything holding back 22nd century humans from condemning the humans of 2018. From their point of view, it will seem barbaric and evil that anyone once confined animals in tiny cages, cut their beaks and tails off without anesthetic, and forced them to live in filth and disease.

Those future generations won’t look kindly on our psychological refuge of so-called “humane” animal farms. Today we look back at slavery and see even the least cruel slaveholders as fundamentally evil for holding any human in bondage. We don’t make a distinction between factory slavery and humane slavery or cruel genocide and painless genocide. We, rightly so, condemn the entire institution.

Fortunately, many people in 2018 see the writing on the wall. In fact, around 47 percent of US adults support a ban on slaughterhouses. Everyone wants to stand on the right side of history. Take it from Tom Hayes, CEO of Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest meat processor. He said, “Plant protein is growing faster than animal protein. For us, we want to be where the consumer is.” Or as business magnate Richard Branson said, “I believe that in 30 years or so we will no longer need to kill any animals and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same and also be much healthier for everyone.”

 

Jacy Reese is the Research Director of Sentience Institute, a nonprofit think tank researching how social movements succeed in expanding humanity’s moral circle. He is currently writing a book, The End of Animal Farming (November 2018), that illuminates humanity’s transition to an animal-free food system. You can follow him on Twitter @jacyreese

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Filed under: Animal Rights, Top Stories

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Jacy Reese is the Research Director of Sentience Institute, a nonprofit think tank researching how social movements succeed in expanding humanity's moral circle. He is currently writing a book, The End of Animal Farming (November 2018), that illuminates humanity's transition to an animal-free food system.

203 Comments

  1. Daniel says

    Sustainable farming is a fascinating topic. Check out Forrest Pritchard.
    It’s not going to make food cheaper, though.

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  6. Davide says

    Hi,

    While I support humane treatment for animals and I’m an animal lover, I’d strongly oppose radical solutions like this. I’m also allergic to soy and plenty of other vegan diet key components. No thanks.

    I also strongly object to this rewriting of history to criminalize collectively and inherently successful societies. Seriously liberals, you are not winning arguments like that. If mankind hadn’t learned how to hunt and farm animals, wed’ be extinct by now. Glorious utoptian societies actually end up doing more damage than the imperfect ones they want to ”correct”.

    • So you’re opposed to the rewriting of history that criminalized slavery in the American south?

      • @Sam – The founding principles of liberty and equality under the law allowed the notion of slavery to come to an end. It was just a matter of making it clear that Africans were human, not animals. Those who eat animals are well aware they are animals, not humans. But some of the brutal factoring farming is not something I condone, but the idea of making it illegal is absurd.

        • Wolfgang says

          Just eat whole food plant based foods. There is no need for you to eat soy.

          There are plenty of fruits and vegetables and grains and legumes and nuts for you to eat. Stop being a snowflake. The animals are tortured in ways that should NOT be legal. PERIOD.

          • Stephanie says

            Dude, stop with your religious nonsense! I tried vegetarian for 15 years and it make me feel awful. Many people don’t do well on a vegetarian diet. I oppose factory farming and seek my own locally raised, grass fed meat, but if you require all humans to eat the diet we used to eat before we were human in order to deal with the problem of factory farming, you will lose.

            Also, a lot of this is BS and you actually end up killing MORE animals, if you count rodents, with vegetarian eating than meat eating. How many rodent lives is one cow life worth to you?

          • Lawrence Lee says

            Humans are predators. Predators feed off other life.Tigers are predators. They also feed off other life.But do you see them worrying about what the other animals feel? Its just the way it is.Natural selection. Animals further up on the foodchain eat others. Thats how the ecosystem works.

        • Homo Sapiens wiped out at least 4 other subspecies of humans in our rise to power, and agricultural societies crushed hunter gatherers; were they ‘animals’? And if animals can suffer and do when factory farmed and slaughtered, and humans can live vegan or we can eat clean meat that’s cheaper- where’s the good argument for continuing?

          • @6suckssex
            Those darn Human Supremacist! The gall and audacity to think human lives are worth more than animals!!! Sheer human supremacist hegemony! The animals should collectivise to take back powers from the man, er… human!

      • Constantin says

        The “re-writing of history” did not “criminalize” slavery in the American South. It was criminalize by those – mostly Christian American believers touched by the Enlightenment who died for it but also respected their opponents and manage to unify a nation thereafter. The kitchen variety of modern “history re-writing type” is but a zealot bent on denying any notion of continuity and evolution in history, and believes him or herself entitled to re-do the world on a couple of tired sound-bites. I am all for humane treatment of animals, but I would have no biped one dictate what I eat on the idea that “is good for me or else”. The best way to understand factory animal farming is to realize that it is the archetypal socialist utopia – to each according to his needs, from each according to it abilities + free food, roof and healthcare. The rest is in the details.

    • Your data about mankind are terrible outdated. Our brain needs glucose not animal sourced proteins, so our civilization grew up on carbs and starches, not because we became hunters. You can find many sources on that topic online. So educate yourself a little.

      • @tdx
        Yes, we all know how great and healthy carbs and starches have been for modern people!

    • Alphonse Credenza says

      The equivalence of animal and human life — that all “sentient life” is equally valued (but not sacred because there is no God) is an ancient animist ideal one sees over and again in Utopianists.

      In the context of today, it reminds me also of Farrakhan’s anti-Semite/anti-termite remark in its hyperbolic equivalency, again stemming from an ancient ideal.

      To this writer, we are innnately evil, our victims pure and defenseless. Have you ever seen the cheetah hunt and tear apart the old and lame water buffalo? But, oh, no, that’s just natural. The writer simultaneously holds that we are equivalent beings but that we are somehow held to a higher standard. Why? Whose standard? God’s? Some academic theorist’s?

      The total complete utterly brilliant solution is, of course, compulsion. End this (because I say it is so) heinous practice! How else to achieve our ideal selfhood but to compel obedience…

      End the cheetah’s evil reign: forbid its ruthless rapaciousness! How’s that for equivalent hyperbolicism?

      • Just because it is natural/exists in nature does not make it morally acceptable. This is the naturalistic fallacy.
        I strongly doubt the author argues that an animal as valuable as a human – to extend the moral circle to include animals does not imply equivalence between species. It simply means we should recognize their suffering and take them into moral consideration. As 21st century, post-industrial homo sapiens, we are now completely detached from dependency on animals for vital nutrients, and can choose not to cause suffering. That is all.

        • The old waterbuffalo had a normal life, it wasn’t crammed into a pen for its entire existence and it even got to be old. The “oh it’s natural” makes zero sense when you look at factory farming, a deeply unnatural business

          • Water Buffalo? Have you lived near rice fields, or secret love for chinoiserie, Lao tse on a water Buffalo? Every chick(en), pig, cow, goat or sheep of our western world hates it to be crammed into a cage or pen, no eastern examples needed here!

        • Isaac says

          If there is not a personal God, then there is no “naturalistic fallacy.” Technically, if there is no personal God, then there can’t even be laws of logic, so there aren’t really ANY fallacies.

          But if you’re going to strain at the point that there can be immorality in nature (carnivores causing suffering), which we must reject, then you have to explain, without invoking a God, what it is about man that is above all other animals, none of whom even have the capacity to give a rip about the suffering of their prey.

      • Ghatanathoah says

        @Alphonse Credenza

        There’s no need to assume humans and animals are morally equivalent to oppose factory farming. Even if you think humans are much more valuable than animals, it’s still bad. If a human is a thousand times more valuable than a chicken, torturing a thousand chickens is as bad as torturing one human. Since factory farming tortures millions of chickens, it’s equivalent to torturing thousands of humans.

        Also, the reason we are held to a higher standard than a cheetah is pretty obvious: we are smart enough to understand the argument, the cheetah isn’t. It’s no different than holding a healthy adult to a higher standard of moral responsibility than a child, or a person with dementia.

        I don’t think the writer thinks we are innately evil, evil is something you do, not something you are. Similarly, I don’t even know what it means to say that animals (or humans, for that matter) are “pure.” I think their defenselessness is an objective fact.

        You seem to be conflating a bunch of different ideas in your head about moral worth, status, and responsibility, and drawing some pretty unwarranted conclusions because of it.

        • Isaac says

          There is no possible number of chicken-tortures that can be the equivalent to the torture of one single human. It’s not that humans and animals hare simply not “morally equivalent,” it’s that nature, outside of human brains, recognizes no morality at all. Humans and animals are not even in the same category in regards to a sense of morality; animals don’t have any. Nature has NO problem with torture, nor with mass extinction or genocide. Nature doesn’t care.

          Neither is it a matter of intelligence or “understanding the argument.” I find that to be a non sequitur. There is no argument from intelligence alone against hurting animals, or even against hurting other humans. Those are moral sentiments. Prior to Christianity, for example, there was no one making a significant argument against infanticide (practiced worldwide) or slavery (practiced by every culture advanced enough to be able to capture and keep slaves.) The most learned and advanced pre-Christian culture still saw no problem with either. Their intelligence made no difference. It was the introduction of a different morality that chipped away at both practices, eventually defeating them.

          Humans have a problem with cruelty to animals, and it isn’t because we’re smart. It’s either because we have a God-given sense of morality, or perhaps we are foolishly sentimental for no reason. All intelligence does is allow us to observe and understand how the universe works, and outside of ourselves, nothing in the visible world gives a rip about animal rights.

          If there is a God, it makes SOME sense to be concerned about unnecessary cruelty to animals, because it is unseemly to inflict pain for no reason. On the other hand, if you take a personal God out of the equation and disallow objective morality, then any concern whatsoever about animals is a mawkish sentiment, beyond whatever pleasure and use can be derived from their continued presence. There would be nothing illogical, unnatural or “wrong” about caring only for the continued survival of one’s self, family, race, and species (in THAT order) if there’s no Lawgiver saying otherwise.

  7. E. Olson says

    The human body is designed to eat and nutritionally process meat, and as a consequence meat production has been a human endeavor for thousands of years. We want and desire meat because it offers great taste and gives nutrients that are very difficult to procure from non-meat sources, and evidence of this need for meat comes from research that finds majorities of self-pro-claimed vegetarians and vegans regularly cheating by eating meat and/or giving up vegan/vegetarianism when they develop health problems due to imbalanced diets. Organic, and/or range fed and/or locally produced meats are available for consumers who want them, but the low market share of such products suggests that the vast majority of meat eating consumers want decent quality and low price above all else, which is exactly what factory farming provides. Furthermore, the efficiency of factory meat production means each pound or calorie of meat requires far fewer inputs of feed and generates far fewer outputs of methane gas, because factory farming gets the animal up to slaughter weight far faster. Research is also mixed on whether animal quality of life is actually lower with factory farming, but in the end meat animals all end up on someone’s plate, so just how comfortable are they supposed to be during their relatively short lives? If billionaire leftists want to eat soy burger and organic salads on their private jets or private islands they should be free to do so, but perhaps they should just mind their own business when it comes to trying to force the rest of us to give up our Five Guys burgers or Thanksgiving turkey so they feel better about themselves.

    • All humans die and are buried, and our lifespans are short in comparison to those of many animals, like certain species of turtles. How comfortable do you think we ought to be?

      • Isaac says

        Beats me, from what authority would you base your belief that humans should be equally concerned with the comfort of other species as their own? That’s not how nature works, so what moral authority are you appealing to?

    • “Research is also mixed on whether animal quality of life is actually lower with factory farming”

      … sorry, do you even need research for this? Just look into any animal farming facility and see for yourself – I mean, if anyone even lets you have a look inside because the farming industry is strong on forcing a total disconnect between the meat on the shelf and the slaughterhouse.

      • You, my friend, are a moron if you think research is mixed.

      • BuenaVista says

        Tell me how you’ve looked “inside” a hog barn, prior to providing your opinions about same.

    • Cynthia Moore says

      You are really an idiot. What kind of research do you have to back up your bull shit claims. People develop disease from eating meat and animal products. People develop elevated cholesterol from eating animal products and you know why, because the human body does not digest or metabolize animal products. What are all this nutrients? Vitamins and minerals are in plants. What is your college degree in the healthcare field? You probably do not have one or you would not be making such a stupid ass remark. I am a registered nurse taking care of uneducated people like you. You don’t care about the conditions these animals are raised in? Just goes to show that you are a greedy, selfish person you are. You must be an animal farmer.

      • People do not develop high cholesterol from eating meat products. The evidence for that was poor and has been overwhelming superseded. Though you can get most of your vitamins from plant products, you can’t get all of them (e.g. vitamin b12 is found only animal products) and others are absorbed only poorly (e.g. absorption of animal source iron is much more effective than absorption of plant source iron).
        A practicing MD

        • gus bovona says

          To be clear, b12 can be had from dairy products and eggs.

          • What do you think eggs are? How would you go about gathering the materials? Factory farm just hens for eggs and dairy cows?

      • Ed Cuevas says

        You seem to have the title of “idiot” misdirected.

      • Isaac says

        I think Cynthia believes that Eskimos were riddled with Type 2 diabetes and diseases. Must have been hard hunting polar bears and living in negative temperatures while being sick all the time.

    • Chad Jessup says

      E. Olson – all good points. I’m glad our ancestors did not harbor ideologies the likes of which the moral crusade of the vegan fascists push on us. If they don’t want to consume animal products, fine, just don’t try to force others to do the same.

      • The only fascists here are so called “carnivores” or “omnivores”. They force their really bad diet and immoral habits on rest of society really hard. You’re not right because you’ve a majority. Nacists in nazi Germany were a majority too and they thought they’re right all about Untermenschen. No, they weren’t. Your eating habits are included in your system of belief and you defend them the very same way as indoctrinated religious fanatics. Still it doesn’t mean you’re right. And UN Panel shows it.

        • Chad Jessup says

          tdx – Omnivores … “force … on the rest of society.” What country do you live in? Can’t be the USA, because here vegans are free to avoid any food not to their liking. Your statement concerning indoctrinated religious fanatics says more about you. I formerly was a vegetarian, who after feeling the effects of that diet combined with wider nutritional education, changed my ways. I was born in the forties and possess a body which compares quite favorably against vegans and most anybody else.

          Studies of ancient peoples reveal the healthiest diet was a combination of seafood (i.e. the entire fish) and vegetables; the second best was meat and vegetables; in a distant third, not surprisingly, was plant food.

          I think I will go fry up some bacon and eggs. Yummy!

        • Isaac says

          Humans aren’t “so-called” omnivores. They are actually omnivores. Our body systems are designed to process both meat and plants and our teeth are adapted to tearing apart meat. We also require nutrients that are very difficult to naturally obtain without meat.

      • I think the reason some , you say “push” , I say “educate” , is because it needs to be made clear to some ignorant people that millions of animals are suffering unimaginable cruelty. If dogs were treated the same way people would be raising hell. These animals CONClUSIVELY feel joy, pain and in some cases sorrow.
        So someone like yourself would perceive that these people want you to stop eating meat because of health benefits.
        It’s to stop these creatures from unimaginable cruelty.
        If these people don’t speak up for these animals, then who will?
        There are many videos out there where you can witness the cruelty. Not only from factory farms , but also fur farms. It needs to be stopped. And I applaud anyone that chooses to speak out when their is suffering of any kind.

    • One can tell by our molars and lack of pointy, flesh tearing K9s , that we were not meant to be meat eaters. Our molars too closely resemble molars of herbivores.
      Compare yours to a dogs then a herbivore. As far as lacking nutrients, this earths largest land creatures seem to be doing very well on a non meat diet wouldn’t you say.?
      I believe that you believe what you are saying is correct. We can agree on that.

      • Chad Jessup says

        Mike, I understand your morale perspective on this issue, I just disagree with it.

        Yes, our molars resemble those of herbivores, but your concept of “meant” is misplaced. We weren’t meant to land on the moon, but we did, and our ancestors have been omnivores for a long time. I’m not ready to say that all there is to know about nutrition is already known, so it is too soon to abandon the dietary wisdom of our ancestors.

        Those large land creatures are doing fine, because their digestive tracts permit the assimilation of large amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats from the fruits and vegetables they eat.

        You mention the cruel conditions of those “factory” animals. I live in the country, and if you want to see a cruel death, you should witness a mountain lion killing a deer or the neighbor’s dog. It’s not pretty. At least the “factory” animals don’t lead a daily life of stress looking out for predators, and their end is quickly over.

        I was raised on a 25,000 acre cattle ranch where our dozen cow dogs came and went as they pleased, and the stock horses roamed in pastures. My personal belief is that dogs kept in small apartments or any confined space for the benefit of a human is a travesty.

        • Ghatanathoah says

          @Chad Jessup

          How do you square your belief that dogs shouldn’t be confined with the way many factory animals (many of whose wild equivalent wander around just as much as dogs) are kept in confined spaces? Research indicates that they are stressed out by their confinement, probably more than predation would. Cattle are probably an exception, as they are less confined than chicken and pigs.

          The suffering the animal experiences at the moment it dies seems relatively insignificant to me compared to the suffering it experiences in its day-to-day life leading to its slaughter. If I had to choose between spending life in a cage before being painlessly killed, versus spending my life free before being mauled to death by a grizzly bear, I’d take the bear.

        • Reziac says

          No, our molars do NOT resemble those of herbivores. Herbivore molars consist of layers and grow continuously, to make up for the greater wear-and-tear of a wholly-plant diet. Human molars are a single layer and do not grow continuously (same as other mammalian omnivores and carnivores). Also, compared to herbivore molars, human molars are nowhere near flat (they’re actually two or more short spikes around a shallow cup).

      • Paulo says

        Dogs don’t know how to produce and maintain fire, and can’t cook food. We’re doing it for a long time, hence our lack of flesh tearing k9s.

      • Isaac says

        Even if you want to make the unscientific argument that our teeth don’t look as sharp as those of carnivores, it’s still a fact that we were eating meat before we developed teeth such as we currently have…and we still are. It’s now believed among evolutionary theorists that we wouldn’t even have human brains without first having meat in our diets. And our continued possession of such powerful brains requires either continued meat consumption, or farms. Or Whole Foods.

    • Ghatanathoah says

      @E. Olson

      The problem with your “mind your own business” argument is that it is hypocritical. By killing and eating animals, you are minding the animal’s business. So people who tell you to stop aren’t butting into your own business. They are stopping you from minding the animal’s business. You can’t tell someone to mind their own business when you are already not doing it.

      Imagine if Brian David Mitchell told the police to mind their own business when they liberated Elizabeth Smart from him.

      • E. Olson says

        Ghatanathoa – it isn’t hypocritical at all unless you believe that all living creatures have identical rights. A chicken, cow, or pig that isn’t eaten by man will either not exist at all (because what is the point of breeding animals if you don’t eat them?) or will be eaten by a wolf or lion or bear (or do you think they will also adopt a vegetarian lifestyle?). If we all have equal rights, shouldn’t you go to jail when your murder ants as you walk down the street, and should you get manslaughter for killing bugs that hit the windshield of your car as drive down the highway?

        • Reziac says

          Those who think nature kills kindly need to watch predators eating their prey alive, as most do to some degree. There are plenty of safari videos on YT to choose from. Humans are the ONLY animal that makes sure their prey is dead before eating it. (Some primitives perhaps excepted.)

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  9. Indeed, simply a matter of price, and no need to immediately also abandon all meat. The good and rather expensive iberico ham is made from pigs that happily stroll in oak forests, eating acorns and herbs, plus some extra feed (the more acorns they eat, the higher the ham price). Sheep are grazing all yearround in meadows, broilers can be bought from the bioindustry ( 3 dlrs/kg) or of freerange types (6 dlrs). Uptil now, still about half of all chickens in the world (African China, India, Middel East, Mexico, Brasil etc) are free ranging happy hens, with a cock around to make them even happier. However, within a short time, more and more of those fowl will also be raised in cages , without daylight and space to scavenge around. All people in the world have the right to eat chicken. A chicken on everybodies plate, that’s the slogan, and for a “reasonable” (= very low, the bottom one) price. Same story for the pigs and other poor animals. But it is not necessary so, it’s just our choice to have it like that. The alternatives are there, even now!

    • There’s nothing like humane slaughter. It’s totally delusive impression. Or can you have end your happy life at hook upside down with an undercut throat? Or do you want to be electrocuted? I don’t think, like anyone other don’t want it.

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  12. Willy Gee says

    I’m always suspicious of folks who adopt positions which allow them to do what they want to do anyway. Foregoing meat takes sacrafice. Eating it does not. Imo the author has it right. Future generations will not be kind to human carnivores.

      • Circuses and Bread says

        @morgan

        I was very tempted to respond to this article by noting that the authors should get back with us after we’ve seen fit to stop killing pre-born kids. But I thought about it for a moment and realized that compassion and empathy for the helpless isn’t a zero-sum game. Maybe the compassion and empathy for animals will translate into the same for humans? It couldn’t hurt.

        • @Circuses and Bread

          Richard Dawkins’ books actually made me pro-choice by making this comparison. Human fetuses are more like multi-cellular organisms than animals, in terms of nervous system and capacity for suffering, and no one talks about saving the bacteria. Therefore, animal welfare is a much higher priority than fetus welfare.

          The best case for animal welfare isn’t that we shouldn’t kill them, but that we shouldn’t torture them in horrifying ways while they’re alive. Human fetuses are not being tortured before they’re killed. Actually they have a pretty blissful existence in most cases.

          But yes, the same compassion and empathy for animals can and should extend to human fetuses eventually. When artificial wombs become a reality, I have no doubt that it will. For right now, I think what people are obsessed with is the significantly greater suffering the fully grown woman endures by bringing the child to term compared to the much lesser suffering of terminating a barely-developed fetus in an early trimester.

          • Ah yes, a future where we all consume plant-based nutritional goo and all females receive a free hysterectomy at puberty so that there is no pregnancy. All pro-creation is done in artificial wombs from genetically sound fertilized eggs of the desired race, gender, and genomic construction for the benefit of the Society. Quite Orwellian. Also strange from a political perspective. Would that be the anti-science “alt right” trying to avoid Evolution? It sure seems like Creationism to me where our elite group (doctors?) have assumed the role of God.

          • Morgan says

            @Marshall Mason

            A fetus is “more like multi-cellular organism” at which point of development?

            Your understanding of pregnancy is catastrophically and tragically deficient.

            Do take a moment to consider why an abortion requires “termination” of the life of the fetus followed by “chopping up” before “extraction”.

          • Isaac says

            You have a curious way of trying to quantify morals by parsing everything into units of physical suffering. Using your exact logic, I can murder anyone I please, you included, just by quietly injecting them with lethal chemicals as they blissfully sleep. They’d never feel a thing, and enjoyed a blissful life, which makes it somehow MORE ethical than shooting a deer, which is just plain wrong.

            Since aborting you would have caused you no pain, I wonder if both you and your mother would be amendable to boing back in time and making it so. You’d never feel it, and your mother would be spared a great deal of physical pain which I’m sure she regrets going through. It would be the humane thing to do.

            Seriously, is this what happens to people who read Dawkins?

  13. Stoic Realist says

    It is fascinating how the author glides between indicting the factory farming of animals and the farming of animals in general. This results in either a confused argument or an intentional and dishonest conflation of the two which brands normal and free range farms with the sins of factory farms that they don’t commit. This leaves the author sounding more like a tin-hatted crank than a person of science. This image is only furthered by the vacuous appeals to how we will be judged by future generations aka the empty and insipid ‘right side of history’ argument. Since firstly we can’t actually know how the future will judge something and secondly there will always be people who are willing to judge history from the comfortable ignorance of ignoring the realities of the period. Given the article I can only see the author as one of the latter.

    In any event I will continue to eat meat from locally non-factory farmed animals for the rest of my life. On the off chance someone makes farming illegal I will buy a bigger freezer and hunt my own or pay local hunters for a pollution of theirs.

    • Stoic Realist says

      Portion not pollution. Skype picks the strangest times to go off script.

    • Yes. And while slavery may have been a miserable institution, it was a global affair, committed against people of all races by people of all races, and of course was part of the advancement of society and entire nations like ours, so unless the “right side of history” means all non-natives leave the land and give their wealth to slaves, then it’s possible those wrongs were indeed part of the actual history and the actual good lives most of us lead now.

  14. Emmanuel says

    Everybody agrees that industrial farming is both unethical and environmentaly unsustainable. However, in the same time there is a huge and growing demand for meat, especially in the developping world.
    Alternatives to industrial farming such as free range farming or some forms of hunting ( a good alternative when you hunt feral pigs, much less when you hunt baby pandas ) are much less productive. They cannot satisfy that demand.
    That demand can either be decreased, by promoting alternatives to meat such as vegetarian substitutes or entomophagia (which I believe will massively develop in industrialized countries in the near future), or satisfied with artificial meat.

    • A much more logigal solution would be: prohibit the most cruel ways of raising fowl and animals, such as happens in South Carolina and elsewhere, with 1000s and 1000s of pigs cramped together without anything ( some straw, soil, daylight) that could distract those miserable, intensely poor animals. This will be the great shame of our generation (end 20th,early 21th century), comparable (if not worse) with the slavery of once. Harari was right!

      • Emmanuel says

        Prohibiting cruel practices and strictly enforcing those prohibition is manageable in western countries where many people care about those issues. In China, not so much.
        Another problem is that those ethical ways of raising animals would be less productive and profitable, which probably means more expensive meat. I am willing to pay more for ethical meat but not everybody is : people would either have to adapt their lifestyle to higher meat prices or would start to buy cheap meat imported from countries without such legislation.
        Most people want to eat more ethical meat but I don’t know if they would be willing to accept the economic cost of humane, good quality meat.

        • You have been in the Caribian world, Emmanuel, so you also know what was the philosophy there 150 yrs ago: abandon slavery? On our sugar plantations?? how? what? too idealistic, the sugar would be far too expensive! Finally, more people (in Europe of course) can afford to buy some refined sugar in their tea and cofee (in stead of the expensive honey), and now this will be out of reach?? Never!

        • @Emmanuel
          I agree everyone would prefer ethically raised and produced meat, I do think this is actually attainable though. I buy grass fed meats, free range chicken and eggs from my local coop but I’ve noticed walmart carrying all sorts of this stuff. Say whatever you want about the Walmart hegemon but one thing it’s good at is responding to market demand.

          They 100% carry grass fed meat and free range eggs with no grain in their diet at all. The meat is cheaper by $1.00Lb than in my coop but the eggs are almost $1 more expensive. So it’s interesting to witness this market growing and growing. Humans are omnivores but we don’t need as much meat as we currently eat. But forcing a vegan diet on everyone is not a solution nor is it healthy.

      • Emmanuel says

        Dirk, your comparison between sugar produced through slavery and meat from industrial farming is very interesting.
        David of Kirkland, your comment about eating less meat relies on obvious common sense.

        However you both neglect a very important point : we live in a period a massive, without any precedent in human history, economic change. That change is mostly for the best : billions of people are getting out of poverty and enjoying a much more comfortable (from the material point of view) way of life. One of the main consequences of that change of lifestyle is a modification of their eating habits : when a once poor country gets wealthier, its inhabitants start eating much more meat. It’s one of the first consequences of economic development. That’s the reason why we have such a huge and growing demand for meat on a global scale.
        Westerners may be willing to eat less meat, but the majority of the world’s population is not following that trend. On the contrary, those people aspire to eat more meat, and right now only big scale industrial farming can provide it.

        If their had been a similarly high demand for sugar in the 19th century, I believe the abolition of slavery in the Caribean world would have been a much more difficult matter that it already was.

        I am not saying that industrial farming is good or that we should not try to put an end to it. All I mean is that it will not be easy because, on a global scale, there is a huge economic incentive to keep it going.

    • Emmanuel- No, “everyone” does not agree.

      The growing demand in ‘meat’, is in the upcoming Asian countries.

      The depopulation of fish stock, is driven from Asian countries.
      Im Africa, no shortage of cows. Preferred feast meat.
      Middle East: goats and sheep.
      None of these are feral or wild.

      • Emmanuel says

        Regarding the “upcoming Asian countries”, they already concentrate most of the world’s population and of the global economic growth. The future of industrial farming will depend of the decisions of people from these countries.

        Regarding Africa, the local eating habits are changing very fast, mostly because of increasing urbanization and the growth of “perhaps not yet middle but wealthier than before class”.

        Regarding, Middle East, I did not know they were also using goats and sheeps for meat…

        Sorry, I had to do it.

        • About changing eating habits in Africa: almost nobody there is still eating what the common diets there were for 1000s of years, uptil some 300 yrs ago. Once: yams, cowpeas, millets, now: cassava, maize, beans, potatoes (all from America) and wheat from the Middle East ( breadwheat and potatoes need cool temperatures, therefore, only in the highlands, but, much easier, to import the stuff from cool countries, as is done by more and more nations, sometimes heavily subsidized) Stranger even, subsidized cassava in breadmeal, to “africanize” the bakeries and diets again (like in Nigeria).

    • Foyle says

      I don’t agree. Industrial farming is both ethical and sustainable. The animals have been bred to do well in the factory environment. If they were severely stressed or unhappy they would not gain weight as well (and those that didn’t haven’t been propagated to the next generation for many decades now). Animal are not suffering in the way that uninformed humans think they are, just as cockroaches are happy to live in garbage, or tapeworms in your intestine, they are evolved to thrive in their (factory) environment. The factory farm environment is currently the most cost efficient (and therefore resource efficient given ultimate fungibility of traded goods) means of producing meat. It is also quite efficient: factory farmed chickens create about 1kg of weight for every 2kg of food.

      Like most human recreational activities eating meat is a pleasure (as well as being better for most people’s health). Pleasure/Hedonism is close to the minimum necessary articles of faith for human existence and to needlessly deny pleasure to people is cruel. So if you wish to impose arbitrary value judgements based on weakly founded articles of faith to dictate which pleasures are OK and which are not then you are going to have an interesting time trying to justify banning meat production vs (say) banning the extreme over-consumption exemplified by huge McMansions, or SUV’s or flying anywhere or playing golf or indulging in fashion or in fact doing anything beyond living the most abstemious ascetic minimalist existence in a small shed eating gruel – and in fact why is even that OK when you could remove your ‘load’ from the planet through choosing death.

      It is a mistake to project human values and preferences onto animals with vastly different evolutionary social, cognitive and behavioural attributes. They don’t share your value judgements, and having been bred for domesticity for many thousands of years (to the point where many could not survive without human intervention) they have little desire left for ‘freedom’.

      • You are right Foyle, the factory is most cost efficient, but that’s exactly the problem. Domesticated animals evolved to thrive in that factory environment? I wonder whether Darwin would agree (he started his Origin of Species with long chapters on pigeon rearing). So, what you say is (look at picture 2 above): swine slowly evolved (in the domestication process) to fit in those narrow gestation crates in which they can scarcely lie down, and feel and thrive very well in there (because, though not human, they have instincts and are sentient like we have/are, just listen at the screaming of piglets when you cut their tails and teeth, for efficiency reasons)! Think again, do you relly believe that?

  15. “The brilliant upside is that even if animal farming primarily ends for efficiency reasons, it will likely result in a great expansion of humanity’s moral circle. Once we’re no longer eating animals three times a day, we’ll no longer be burdened with the cognitive dissonance that comes from caring about animals while participating in their suffering.”

    Having too wide of a “moral circle” seems to be harmful. You either burn out on even caring about people who should be closer to you, or you end up martyring yourself.

    It’s also interesting that this presents the problem as being the dissonance rather than the suffering. I don’t see much of a problem with dissonance; it’s good to be reminded that rules in the real world are rarely simple and absolute. Trying to force everything (and everyone!) to be nice and consistent and orderly tends to end badly.

    • Cognitive dissonance is a problem in this case, because most people’s response to it is not to change their actions to align with their beliefs and values, but to change their beliefs and values to align with their actions. This way people free themselves of the guilt they would normally feel, but as a consequence are forced to abandon their natural instinct to care about animals. The author is saying that once people stop having to contribute to animal suffering, they will be free to embrace their natural sense of kinship with and empathy towards non-human animals. This will create happier humans and animals alike and will likely lead to major changes in society’s views on animal rights.

      • Stoic Realist says

        The cognitive dissonance argument is a self serving assertion and little more. It is not measurable and therefore not provable. It is entirely possible to both consume meat from animals and also care about them without either act interfering with the other. Generations of hunters from cultures the across the scope of the planet have done so.

      • Isaac says

        What the heck kind of “natural instinct to care about animals” do you think that human beings have? I think you are conflating your own experience (most likely raised in a modern house watching adorable anthropomorphic animals on television and never having to hunt) with the experience of the majority of humans who ever lived before you.

        I don’t know what you think most humans lived off of before (some of them) figured out agriculture, but it wasn’t Smurf-berries.

  16. I think the key to sustainable and human farming is to decentralize food production and reengage the “Family Farm” .

    With new techniques and less restrictive regulations local food production can become a new age business opportunity. Bringing the farm and fork closer together solves many problems that we face in food production today.

    http://www.TowerPowerGreenhouse.com

    • But, Off grid, is that not what already happens on a rather massive scale? (though not in the millions, but in the thousands), in those Vermont family farms, farmers markets, here in Utrecht even, and even in the Conuqueros mercados in Caracas (maybe stopped because of total crisis there now, but until recently weekly). Of course, a little bit more expensive, so, for the 1000s and not the milions!

  17. defmn says

    If humans stop consuming chickens, pigs, cows etc. how long before there are no chickens, pigs, cows left? I can’t see any of the these species surviving in the wild so do they go from 100 billion to a few hundred in zoos?

    Of course not since zoos will have been outlawed as well as inhumane.

    It sounds to me like the path to the elimination of all species humans use for food once we no longer have that use for them.

    • You are worried about extinction but not about the terrible life these animals have during their time alive? Animals were around before they were farmed!!! We just increased the number of animals many times because we want to grow them to eat their flesh.

      • @TC – The animals we eat are very far from any wild animals they came from, just as wheat and corn and such are very different from wild grasses where they came from.

    • From a Utilitarian perspective, it would be better for factory-farmed animals to never exist if the suffering in their lives outweighs their pleasure. In a post-factory farming world, there would be far fewer chickens, pigs and cows but there’s no danger that they would actually become extinct — any more than horses became extinct once cars replaced them as our primary form of transportation.

      I think the authors are correct that future generations will be horrified by our treatment of sentient animals. However, the majority of humans are never going to abandon the consumption of meat: the opposite is happening in rapidly industrializing countries like China and India. Small-scale family farms should be supported by those who oppose factory farms and can afford higher-quality animal products, but they’ll never provide enough meat (especially at the artificially low prices consumers have come to expect) to satisfy demand. In my opinion, only “clean meat” — cultured meat grown in labs — will enable us to move beyond factory farming. I think consumers’ reservations about eating meat grown in industrial-scale vats will fade away once it becomes affordable. Its advantages are undeniable, both in terms of eliminating animal suffering and reducing the environmental impact of meat.

      • Next they’ll propose “clean humans” that are raised in petri dishes and avoid all the “waste” from billions of “marginally useful humans.”

      • Chickens, ok…for eggs. Why would pigs exist? Cattle is a big problem. You want dairy cows, since dairy is ok, but what do you do with all the born males since you aren’t going to raise them for butchering? Where do they go? Same for goats.

    • This’s totally laughable. We as humans caused extinct of so many species, we feed so many “domesticated” animals by food, which could saturate literally billions of people, an animal feces from industrial farming are polluting land and water, and you make some fantastic predictions about extinction of cows, pigs and chickens? You don’t care about them only about your full plate.

    • defmn – the problem with all of these ‘crisis mongers’ is they take some aspect of some system that is awful and declare it immoral/unsustainable/dirty etc etc and propose throwing the baby out with the bathwater – every single time. It’d gotten to where I just tune them out no matter how just their outrage is.

      Your zoo comment is case and point. Yeah, zoos seem awful in a cruel, cagey, confining way, but in so many cases the research and endangered species recovery they do is THE difference maker. But no, zoos are bad, close all of them!!!

      I can’t believe rodeo’s and car racing still exist, considering they’ve done away with circuses and pine for the end of the internal combustion engine.

  18. There is nothing new about the humane treatment of livestock.

    This is from the last two paragraphs of the civil section of the 1640 Massachusetts Body of Liberties:

    “[Liberties] Off the Bruite Creature.
    92. No man shall exercise any Tirranny or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man’s use.

    93. If any man shall have occasion to leade or drive Cattel from place to place that is far of, so that they be weary, or hungry, or fall sick, or lambe, It shall be lawful to rest or refresh them, for competant time, in any open place that is not Corne, meadow, or inclosed for some peculiar use.”

    When I was young in the 1950s it seemed everybody had a country cousin who raised what we now call free range poultry, hogs and few cattle. In the fall we were often taken out to Uncle Buddy and Aunt Etta’s for the culling and to help getting the farm ready for winter.

    Temple Grandin wrote a book and made a nice film, “Thinking in Pictures” about this and her autism.

    • Temple Grandin is a heroine, she deserves a statue (she is heavily autistic, probably the reason she sees and understands animals better than us, ordinary, unrealistic beings).

      • We have laws against animal abuse now. The question is whether those factory farms are truly abusive today or such abuses are outliers.

        • I think it self-evident that close confinement for life of any living creature that has done us no harm is abusive and morally wrong. The Puritan in me instructs that we are these creatures’ stewards and God directs that our stewardship must be humane.

          The economic question is how much should a pound of flesh cost given that we are allowed to take these lives for our own needs.

          If free range as opposed to close confinement doubles, re-doubles or more than re-doubles more the cost of meat, poultry and eggs, I think that is the price that must be paid.

        • It’s brutal beyond your imagination. You can see it in movie Dominion which shows common practices in this “industry”.

  19. Farris says

    This article has numerous errors.
    “like the tons of chicken manure filling the Chesapeake Bay, “… (no citation provided)
    If this is true someone is wasting money. Our farm purchases chicken manure as a field fertilizer. The fields stink to high heaven for a bit but it is very effective.

    “Incredibly, around 87% of US adults agree with the statement, “Farmed animals have roughly the same ability to feel pain and discomfort as humans.”
    Just because people believe it doesn’t make it true. Consensus is not evidence.
    “These processes mean that farmed animals have a caloric conversion ratio of 10:1 or more. For every ten calories of food we feed them, we get at most around one calorie of meat in return.” (no citation provided)
    If true then how much livestock is going to be produced if the ratio is 10:0 (Poster defmn made this point). It is highly unlikely people will spend money and energy just to watch 100 billion animals eat. If lab grown meat becomes the future, what happens if said “clean meat” is shown to be a greater health risk.
    Many people today will not eat GMO or irradiated foods or (whether rational or not) because of fears of long term side effects. Furthermore not all of the animal is for caloric intake. The hide is sold and used for leather goods.

    Comparing animal husbandry to slavery is morally repugnant. Animals are not people. If mankind progresses to the point it is compelled to treat animals as well as humans, this can only mean that mankind treats its brethren only as well as animals or put another way valuing the life of puppy is no different than valuing the life of a child. Additionally future generations will view past generations as barbarians regardless of what the past generation did or did not do. Perhaps future generations could blame the next holocaust on the fact that members of a past generation viewed humans no different from animals.
    Using the author’s logic wouldn’t horse back riding or using service animals be morally objectionable since such animals only exist for the benefit of man and are unable to enjoy life on its own terms.
    Humans domesticated and raised animals for the same reason they became agrarians, to have a readily available food source. The initial purpose of live stock was to guarantee a food source when crops were not available or to be beasts of burden.
    Personification of animals is what leads to the conclusion that using animals for the benefit of humanity is morally objectionable.

    • You mean manure full of hormones and antibiotics and other goodies? Good luck with this one.

      No, your opinion is morally repugnant and your conclusions are illogical and silly. Animals are abused, tortured and murdered. There is nothing humane in this. And yes, it is slavery and Nazi camps in one package. You may feel outraged, but that does not give you any rights or make your opinions to be true. You only shows some logical fallacy, no one doesn’t say something like you was claimed.

      “What do they know–all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world–about such as you? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.” Isaac Bashevis Singer

      I really doubt you’re better authority than him. So get off your high horse and don’t try to publish your personal opinions like facts and objective truth.

      • You can kill or slaughter an animal, but not murder, neither are animals your friends (though, you can talk to them and caress them, but that’s more your than theirs enjoyment). Did I murder a mosquito just now? Am I a murderer? Racism is morally wrong, speciesism not, but we can’t deal with animals as if they are produce, or things. They are more than that, even kids know that without being explained.

        • Your morality is not universal and I doubt that it’s a morality at all. There’s a term “sentient being”. If you want to be called “a human”, you should understand what it really means to be human. So if you kill a cow or a pig, yes, you’re a murderer, and no, you aren’t a real human being, because you have exchanged your humanity for taste on your palate. You’re just an inhuman being looking for excuses and moral loopholes to deceive your bad conscience. Sorry but kids really know, that you can’t murder and consume sentient beings. You can easily find a lots of proves on YT.

          • What about sea eagles and lions tdx, also murderers and not really eagle and lion? Just imagine, a world without predators, the whole ecology would have to be orchestrated on a completely different footing. Just only think about all those bacteria, worms, insects and vultures, living from the dead bodies! Even plants would have a difficult time, no more carbondioxide to prosper and grow!

          • Constantin says

            TDX – you are inconsistent in your argument. If the killing of a ‘sentient being” by a ‘sentient being” is murder, all pray animals are murderers by your definition. You must resolve this problem before you continue.

        • I don’t know how it goes in your country, but I must pay health care insurance every month (it’s de facto some form of tax). And you know what? Problem #1, which healthcare needs to address, are cardiovascular diseases caused mainly by consumption of meat. So stay cool and eat your burgers and drink your beer. I’m really happy that I’m sponsoring irresponsible behavior of people like you. People don’t die because they’re too old, but because they’re fat, have diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, dysfunctional kidneys or livers, clogged arteries or any other deadly illnesses. Yeah, it’s pretty chilling.

          • Stoic Realist says

            The irony of your statement is that excessive carbohydrates have more to do with cardiovascular disease and diabetes than the consumption of meat. Indeed there are some studies which show that cultures whose diet is entirely meat based have lower incidence of cardiovascular disease for it. If anything you have just argued in favor of continuing animal consumption.

            And as regards that artfully crafted quote from Isaac Bashevis Singer I would ask what facet of his profession as a writer makes him an expert of any sort in terms of discussion? He is entitled to his opinion and others are entitled to disagree with him. Though he serves to state the point most eloquently he adds no excessive amount of expertise to the matter.

          • you’re kind of a sick puppy tdx… People die all the time from old age – I’ll bet even strict (and poo-perfect) vegetarians die of old age too. Most of the diseases you site have a heredity aspect involved. I’m neither fat nor eat a poor diet and yet my diabetes gets worse every year. Yeah, my grandfather had it and his daughter – my mother – had it too. Really, it has nothing to do with eating meat.

      • @tdx.

        I am not for animal abuse. Whether pet or food.

        Please do not compare what Nazis to farmers. For anyone with personal experiences, that is callous. As strongly as you feel, that kind of comment does not make more people aware or ashamed.

        For me personally it actually stung and made me want to close off from your opinion.

        Just a thought.

    • Those arguing that human consumption of animals is evil..it’s all this factory farm “stuff” ignore that prior to large scale meat production that human populations decimated the local wildlife. The historical record shows whole continents where mere centuries after human migration the large mammals were extinct. Why is this important? If the notion of no more “non-wild-hunted” animals exist for meat, you can surely expect many more extinct species.

      “Oh, but we’ll eat this nutritional goo made from plants!” — and if you can’t afford that? Oh, you can get iron from plants like spinach and broccoli…but what if you can’t afford it vs just killing and eating that animal you see roaming nearby?

      The “Just eat Plant” people envision a world with the Star Trek replicator where they can manufacture this nutritionally perfect goo for all — I just hope it isn’t actually soylent green recycling material from PP

      • The human species would never have evolved, was it not for changing their eating habits, from a vegetarian way (uptil 3 million yrs ago), to a half carnivorous one, you dont need to chew leaves and herbs all day anymore(like cows and sheep have to), but get the useful proteins and vitamins in a much more concentrated form, besides, there is much more time to do other things.

        • This is simply not true. Evolution of human race was caused by consuming vegetables with high content of starches and by ability to prepare meal over a fire (cooking). You can easily find a lots of articles about that topic online. I tryed to post some links here, but my post wasn’t published.

      • @Bill ” prior to large scale meat production that human populations decimated the local wildlife”
        And with large scale meat production we are still doing that! Just look at the rain forests in Brazil being bulldozed to make way for cattle (or soy plantation to feed livestock). Intensive farming, particularly livestock, has decimated wildlife across the planet. This is why scientists now believe we are in the middle of the 6th mass extinction. Of all the mammals on earth, 96% are humans or livestock and 4% are wildlife. 70% of birds are chicken or other poultry and only 30% are wild. And these numbers are skewing rapidly, due to human’s insatiable hunger for meat.
        Perhaps it would be fine if we could have our livestock in addition to the wild animals, but unfortunately it seems we are obliterating wildlife, mainly through the destruction of their habitat, to make way for our farm animals.

  20. I agree that factory farming of animals is abusive and wish they could return to a time when animals were allowed to live a relatively normal life (for a raised animal as they are not wild and would not exist at all except to become our food source later) before being slaughtered.
    That animals are concentrated energy sources (look how much plant material they must eat to make the meat we prefer), responsible for much of the human advancement.
    Isn’t manure the input to organic farming?
    Should we kill all wild animals to avoid the waste they contribute? How about humans that seem unproductive, yet still make all that waste?
    Old school animal husbandry would likely be a big increase in the price of meat, something I’m okay with, but will I then have to hear about the “meat inequity for the poor”?
    Isn’t it a bit species-ist to suggest that some living things are suitable for growing to be eaten while others are not? As we learn more about plants, we learn some can live for thousands of years (oldest living organisms), are the largest living organisms, do react to threats and sources of light and water, etc.
    And the analogy is bad in that we still kill one another on a daily basis. The notion that we do not like violence doesn’t bear out when conflict arises.
    There is no right side of history that imposes limits on free people who are not harming other people.

    • “Isn’t it a bit species-ist to suggest that some living things are suitable for growing to be eaten while others are not?” Plants aren’t sentient and are therefore incapable of experiencing pleasure and pain. (They can respond to environmental stimuli and even communicate with each other in a limited sense, but they lack the kind of consciousness which “higher” animals possess.) Even if plants *could* feel pain, we would still be justified in eating them rather than farm animals because the latter consume massive amounts of plants as they’re being raised. Rejection of speciesism does not require treating all species equally — that would be impossible and ethically indefensible. Instead, we should take the interests of sentient individuals into account in our moral decision-making, not automatically dismiss those of non-humans.

      “There is no right side of history that imposes limits on free people who are not harming other people.” I disagree; the interests of all sentient beings should be taken into account, not just humans. I think the authors of the article are almost certainly correct that future generations will look back on factory farming with justified horror.

      • And let us not forget that switching to plants means production of high levels of human consumable plants — obviously without GMO or pesticides or herbicides or anything else like that which is necessary to support billions of humans. That’s ok, we can let those non-worthy humans starve — we’ll just say it’s Trump’s racism since the obvious first to go will be those in some African countries.

        • @Bill: I’d encourage you to learn about how animals are actually raised. Factory-farmed chickens, pigs and cows consume enormous amounts of grain; it’s far more efficient (in terms of land, energy and water use) to consume plants directly. If you’re actually concerned about the welfare of people in “shithole” (or “shithouse”) countries, you should support a shift to a plant-based diet.

          • And a lot of the animal feed are things not fit for human consumption, but often grown in rotation with human consumption crops in order to stabilize the nutrients in the soil. Of course, that’s gone to hell now that the “biofuel” subsidies take effect. And of course, all that plant cultivation uses fertilizer, which is a no-no. And the manure of the factory ranches is used as fertilizer too in lieu of the manufactured stuff which the enviros hate.

            It’s not some magical panacea…stop factory farming (without defining factory)…ignoring all the ancillary products and markets developed by it and in support of it. Can’t buy chicken manure? No problem, i’m sure Monsanto can make a replacement either via a GMO crop that is less nutrient consuming or a some such.

            Now, if you want to say certain types of raising methods should be restricted, for example, increase the cm2 allotment, ok…we can discuss/debate that. However, for all the free-range talk I seem to recall a rancher out West in an armed standoff with the Gov’t because the Gov’t decided that free-range land now required higher rents for them (without the gov’t actually handling any of the maintenance of the land). With the Gov’t claiming insane amounts of grazing land as “national landmarks” and thru the use of the phone and pen having a President wipe that out…where does all this non-factory come from? Ban Monsanto and all of the high density plant farming goes bye bye. No GMO rice, same thing. Pretty soon you’re left with a planet full of starving/dying shithole countries with the countries blessed with farmland surviving. Of course, if you alter any waterflow to support farming, well, that harms some endangered minnow nobody has seen, so that might even make the countries with farmland having some proportion of their population starving — I vote California.

          • Enormous amounts of grain?? not so Eelson. About 2 kgs (broilers and pigs) of 25cnts/kg for 1 kg of meat, say 1,25 US dlr liveweight.
            Almost no maize is used anymore for humans in the US, all is going to the animals (in and abroad US), soybeans also mainly for animals (though, vegans take it too, and more and more of the maize goes into biofuel, it’s a shame!). In the US and Europe, the area for agriculture is scarcely more than 50 yrs ago, thanks to higher yields. However, this is quite different in Africa and Latin America, but should the US and Europe take care of the food situation there?? Don’t think so, they have more than enough land, agriculture does not need sophisticated technology (with a hoe or a pair of oxen, a wife and some kids you can do the job and sell more than half of what you grow). Simple comme un jour, no need to save on animalfeed in the US.

  21. To make the general statement “Animal farming is the moral catastrophe” is not entirely true since I am an animal farmer who loves and lives with his animals who depend upon me for their own life. The “moral catastrophe” you see is a symptom of a moral bankruptcy of people often refuse to see in themselves. I am a herdsman and shepherd on high-desert range land. The sheep and cattle I tend live because I sweat and toil daily to provide for and protect. I eat more fruits and vegetables and other crops which I also produce in excess of most Americans if you weigh them against processed store bought foods. But I also eat meat from the flock. I am a symbiotic member of the life of the heard. Together we dress, keep and farm the land for the mutual benefit of all.
    Now, socialism is “the moral catastrophe of one sentient being with a heartbreaking life story, plus another sentient being…” My experience with Farm Justice Warriors (FJW) is they have a naive approach to nature and man’s place in it which is imposed by unbridled and misplaced empathy toward animals over their fellowman. If you think it is okay to take anything produced by one sentient being for your personal benefit without his sentient approval you are cannibalizing the life of your neighbor. He may call himself a vegetarian or even a vegan but he is often all to willing to take a bite out of his neighbor to advance his own social programs.

    • There is nothing wrong with animal farming and shepherding, and not even with slaughtering and eating animals (99% of wild animals die before becoming adult). It is the way we treat fowl and animals in modern industrial farming that’s the problem, just look only at the picture above to be convinced, Pigs are more intelligent and sentient than dogs (I read today in my newspaper, but even if there is no difference, it would be the same) so this can’t be the way to deal in animal husbandry, every kid understands this, just show them, and ask them!

      • Farris says

        “just look only at the picture above to be convinced…”
        Is seeing believing? What do you see in the first picture?
        I see a bunch of sows in a trailer for transport.
        The second picture with green pens is a bit more difficult but appears to be a market. Point being what is being depicted is most likely not indicative of every day life.
        The author fails to define industrialized farming. Is it more than 50 animals? Is it a family that has put their farming operations as a chapter S corporation? Also bear in mind that 100% of the animal is utilized. I mentioned leather above but I would venture a guess that most are unaware how prevalent animal products are in their everyday life. If someone chooses not consume animals or use animal products, that is their right. If that same person believes that forebearance makes him/her morally superior, he/she is self deluded.

        • I also have no problem with the first (transport is only a few hours in a pigs life), but with the second one, factory farmed pigs. Not a market scene, but sows for procreation, mother swine to be, only recently there are laws about the amount of cm2 they are entitled to, and that they should be able to lie down. I still see the sows of my youth, in a proper, spacy barn with lots of straw, with a bunch of little happy sleeping pigs. The factory piglets are taken from the mother at 3 weeks time, much too early to be fed with solid feeds (they get diarea, and antibiotics to withstand this unnatural feed)), but necessary to have the swine (artificially) impregnated again, to be able to produce 22 to 25 piglets a year. It’s a shame!

        • Walter says

          Farris, the second photo is of gestation crates, and they are indeed indicative of “everyday life.” Whatever a person’s view, it cannot be denied that immense cruelty is part and parcel of factory farming.

  22. I keep chickens, free ranged on grass. I eat their eggs and the excess males. They understand the nature of our relationship and accept it — unlike most pigs and cattle, chickens do not escape when allowed to run free. They come home to roost. The deal they have with humans (admittedly after centuries of selective breeding) is that we provide them with shelter, security from predators, food and water, and they feed us in turn. They are very social creatures, with up to forty vocal “words,” plus many gestures, and I am very much part of their group and communication. They are deeply adapted to human beings. When you work with them you see behaviour which must have developed over thousands of years — for example when being transported they go into “travel mode” — very quiet and still — and you can just picture them riding in baskets on backs of donkeys a thousand years ago. And the leader will call humans for help, sometimes even running to your doorstep, if the flock is threatened.
    I read once that on the huge warehouse “pig farms” where robots deliver feed and remove waste, that the worst cruelty for the pigs was that they have been abandoned by their human keepers. I don’t know pigs, but I think this is probably true for all animals on factory farms.

  23. Pingback: Why It’s Time to End Factory Farming – Quillette via /r/economy | Chet Wang

  24. Joaquim C says

    ”Yet Klein and Harris are united on one seemingly radical view: Many years from now, our descendants will look back on the use of animals for food—particularly the intense animal suffering in factory farms—as a moral atrocity.”

    Both those intelectuals ( a la Thomas Sowell) lack a grip on that godam thing called reality, human animal instincs are intact and will be for thousands of years or something like that. Bring two days of empty shelves at the supermarkets and voilá; barbarism.
    Animals don’t have rights because they lack responsability. Nature on its own is brutal and ‘evil’.

    /disclaimer: I’m an Iberian Rancher.

    • Joaquim: you know damn well the alternatives of swine husbandry, I guess that on less than 10 kms from your farm, they stroll under the oaks , from now on, because the acorns are ripe and falling, to produce that delicious jamon iberico!! Very happy pigs indeed! They have no ideas of animal factories, they sleep in the autumn son after foraging, dreaming of more and more acorns (I saw them near Badajos).

      • Joaquim C says

        Hi Dirk from Holland! I’ve cows like 16 years old (we know eachother well), that exist because of ME not the Sams or Kleins of the world… I sell the calfes at 6 8 months and so on.
        Back to farm factories: did they saved human lives? can we have Cities without them? why were they built? etc.
        And the big elephant in the room is Abortion… like is not ethical to eat animals but it is ok to kill viable human beings. The Gramscian and the Frankfurt school crowd is having a lot of fun… bloody scum all of them.

        • Hi Joaquim, so you’re not a dairy man, I guess. I’m just back from a short holiday on a Dutch Island, where they introduced Sayaguesa cattle from Spain, because the grass and the land there is too rough, undrained and too natural. I wonder whether you know that type (almost all cows in the NL are dairy type, on artificial ryegrass land). We once discussed the Barrosa cattle type, also a rather antiquated one, I wish you the very best with the farm! More citizens should visit farmers, and see their good work, I think. Besides modern pig and broiler factories, there is so much more! So infinitely more (and better) than that!!!

          • Joaquim C says

            Ola again! That Sayaguesa looks very rustic, a bit like our Mertolenga or our Alentejana breed (exported centuries ago to the USA where they evolved there into the Long Horns breed). Being a rancher in ‘dry’ Portugal under EU PAC policies, translates into on average, having one cow per 2 ha of land.. so we are basically some sort of ‘gardners’; preventing fires due to cattle grazing and taking care of oaks because of the valuable acorns and cork… Of course it is a sub-optimal system compared to farm factories because we have to have a security coeficient on the operations due to mainly wheather variability. On the upper side it’s almost a natural system… where i can run down costs almost to survival levels.

      • Farris says

        What were they dreaming about? Feral pigs are ecologically invasive destructive nuisance animals. In many areas they can be killed on sight or trapped year round. Wildlife management folks are not fans.

        • So… humans driven by their unbelievable stupidity destroy whole ecosystem and caused extinctions nearly of all natural predators. And now with the very same logic you say that we need to kill some of “invasive destructive” animals? Do you really thing that nature can’t regulate that in a few generations (of that species)? You can bet nature can do it very easily. The only real invasive destructive nuisance animals are humans. Wildlife in not their fan in any possible way.

          • And there it is…the problem is human over population! Feel free to enter into the human-reclamation center. Or are you proposing a good war or to cease feeding a bunch of “not as worthy as me and my tribe” so that they starve? Where should we start? It’s a great time, since you can say “Africa” or “Middle East” and the media will blame Trump (implementing YOUR plan) for racism or waging a war on Islam … or maybe China? I hear a good invasion of China will really drop the human population for Gaia.

            What the “But Evolution!”ists ignore is that blame humankind for all the extinction and destruction of habitats/etc…but avoid discussing extinctions that occurred prior. Of course, those were “natural selection;” however, when human kind is involved, it’s now evil and no-longer natural selection.

        • About acorns, I guess Farris (what else could a pig dream of? maybe a charming miss Piggy? also possible), and they were not feral, but domestic iberico pigs, a race still common (about 1 million) in the marginal areas of Spain and Portugal. They can grow more than 1 kg daily during their mast period in winter and are slaughtered only at 170 kg (most pigs at about 100 kgs live weight). Iberico ham is now also for sale in the US, the ibericos also must be kept on some farms now, no idea where. What they can’t stand is being factory kept and fed, they absolutely need their freedom and acorns (why not in Hillbilly country??).

        • Joaquim C says

          We here run wild boars huntings on an yearly basis… and also on moongoose filth.. otherwise to cut it short, it would be havoc.

  25. You even don’t understand what I’ve been written. Do you think that particular animal specie could do that much harm if there wasn’t long line of brutal environmental damages caused by humans? No. So what do you try to say?

    Do you really think that some men with rifles are solution in long term? No. The only plausible solution is renew an ecosystem. For your information: “Domestic swine are not native to North America, but have been used on the continent for agriculture and other purposes since early European settlers. The intentional release and/or escape of these domesticated swine have led to established populations of feral swine […]” http://wildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/FactSheet-FeralSwine_FINAL.pdf

    BTW, do you see word “intentional”? What do you think it means?

    • Farris says

      For your information: “”Domestic swine are not native to North America,…”

      Yes that’s why I used the term invasive.

      “No. The only plausible solution is renew an ecosystem.”

      How can one renew an ecosystem without eliminating the threat to it?

      True that some feral swine were intentional released but how does that mitigate the harm to the environment? Many harmful species were intentionally released (Asian carp, nutria and rabbits to name a few) but that does not alter the fact these invasive species need to eradicated or controlled. Would it be environmentally responsible to prohibit the eradication of Japanese scarab beetles in the U.S.?

      The Left has a fundamental misunderstanding of how nature works. It prefers to view all things through the lens of oppressor and oppressed with of course mankind being the oppressor. Once the Left progresses past the point where it views “Bambi” and “ Charlotte’s Web” as wildlife and farm documentaries, it will become able to appreciate nature for how it really is.

      • No, “the right wing” has false understanding of how nature works, because of delusive biblical concept about human a his “creator”. We’re not some kind of “administrators” of earth accredited by some kind of god. We’re only one of many species and our positive contribution to life on earth is equal to zero.

        So feral swine are one of many proves that we really can manage anything bigger in nature without destroing ecosystem and at the end nearly whole life on earth. People like you thinks that our interests are the most important thing on the planet. No, they’re not. And because you can’t understand that simple fact, we will simply experience biggest catastrophe in recorded history of humankind in next thirty years. A dead oceans, no rainforests, flooding of big area of land, no drinking water sources, avalanche of tornados and lots of other similar things. Feral swine can never cause a catastrophe at a fracture of this magnitude.

        So yeah, eat your steaks, with every bite of them we are closer to the end.

    • Joaquim C says

      Fix your brain… you are useless…; go to some jungle and fk off…creep..

  26. AndrewCC says

    I’ve read a sci-fi story about this. Can’t rightly remember the author but it was one of the classics. Clarke or Asimov or something.
    Taken this concept to its logical extreme, in the future we won’t need animals for meat, and they will have lost their reason to exist. Why have any pigs in the world when the (finite) energy we get from the sun can be more efficiently used to feed humans? Pets too, how can you justify using food to keep a pet alive when it could be used to feed another human. Pets will just be cute robots.

    We’ll just grow some sort of nutritious soup in vats and the only thing alive on the planet will be humans. That’ll be swell, won’t it?

  27. The jump from end factory farming to don’t consume animal sourced meat is where I lose you. Its a giant leap and you do it in the space of a few sentences. Animal farming like most things exists on a spectrum of suffering to animals and effect on the environment. There are methods of farming animals which result in a “better than in the wild” level of suffering for animals and has a regenerative effect on the environment. This seems to be one of those arguments where you are trying to smuggle in a massive moral principle(don’t eat animal meat) based on the justification of one mode of animal farming(the predominant one). Seems like the type of bad argument we see from the left a lot. Trying to use an emotionally driven argument to make a quantum leap to an ideological outcome.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKMM2b6srIg

  28. That’s what I asked myself also the last so many years, and in my comments above, so, it would be nice to get an aswer on that from Jacy, but don’t expect it. You never get answers on this, I’ve learned. Something psychological is at work here, I think. First, you abhor meat eating, and then you start finding arguments to defend this stance (can be health, environment, animal cruelty, what else). This sequence is called rationalisation, though, reason folows feelings here.
    Sometimes, I ask persons (mostly women) why they are vegetarians or vegans. Quite often it has to do with some nasty experience with slaughterig or hunting (blood stained hare, duck, deer) in their early youth. The rest (the rationalisation) is then something that developes lateron, helped by selective information, books, TV programmes, talks of other vegetarians etc.

  29. The best way to end to end “animal suffering” would be to destroy all natural enviroments altogether and stuff all animals in zoos. Have you seen how animals actually fare in their natural enviroment? It’s a neverending struggle for existence, full of disease, starvation, cannibalism, predation. A never ending war with untold pain and suffering. But hey, feeling pain exists for a reason – it’s there to help these animals survive.

    Animals in zoos and free ranged farms live far far better lives than they do in the wild. Yet i’m not seeing any people trying to abolish the Amazon rainforest. Why not? The amount of suffering and carnage that goes on there is comparable to that of factory farming. Hey, in factory farms, animals are atleast saved from being infected by various diseases that often wreck havoc on their bodies. Not the case for those poor fellows in the forest!

    Or you could just simply understand that the idea that the same moral rules that apply to humans also apply to animals is idiotic. If we’re going to stop killing pigs and chickens, why not go towards flies and insects? cockroaches? Hey they are alive too, what about germs?

    • It’s always funny when someone’s trying to compare natural animal behavior, symbiosis and homeostasis to industrial torturing and slaughtering billions of animals of few highly selected breeds. You should’t have false care about wildlife, because they managed to live without human assistance millions of years very easily.

      • There you are right tdx, but it all depends where you are. In the Amazon, wildlife manages very well without any human assistance (at the contrary, humans there kill or catch whatever they can, I’ve seen that, and was part of it). In the NL, we have some small spots,parks, where we foster socalled wildlife. Deer, geese, wild horses, but then, what happens without predators (the wolfe has been eradicated here long time ago)? Too many animals that are starving in the winter. What to do? Let them die, the Party for the Animals say (yes, such a silly thing exists here). Shoot the feeble ones, say the ecologists and forest specialists. Also wrong, the citizens run to the park with hay and other feed, to SAVE the dying animals.
        It’s all too ridiculous for words, but it just happens, in front of everybody’s eyes!!

        • Joaquim C says

          cough… Hitler was a vegetarian..cough cough.. 🙂
          When people are disconnected (in a cause and effect way) with the objects they use or have around them, they start spinning scary stuff.. don’t know why but it is what happens.

          • No, he really wasn’t, you’re another victim of old nazi propaganda. He’s eaten meat regularly. This lie about Hitler’s vegetarianism was spread by Goebels, because Goebels wanted to make Hitler look similar to Ghándí. You can find more online.

  30. Joaquim C says

    Gandhi… wasen’t it a braman or the fk with it all… yawn..puke..

    • And it’s not Goebels, tdx, but Goebbels, dubble b, it’s not enough to spell the name of the good guys correctly, also the bad guys need proper attention!

  31. He seemed to have liked sausage and other such simple, popular Bayern stuff, now devoured in huge quantities (together with lakes of beer) on the Oktoberfests there. So, he did not like the more sophisticated meat types, like steaks and sirloin, that’s what I understood. The good example for his soldiers?(because wurst is cheaper than the good choice pieces).

  32. Jock Aston says

    Enjoyed this article with a delicious bacon sandwhich.

  33. michael farr says

    Leonard Cohen

    A person who eats meat
    wants to get his teeth into something
    A person who does not eat meat
    wants to get his teeth into something else
    If these thoughts interest you for even a moment
    you are lost.

  34. Crops are grown like crops, animals are grown like crops. Humans need to eat. Animals have been eating animals basically forever. Being on the top of the food chain is a good thing, I repeat, a good thing. Humans have become particularly good at growing pigs and so forth.

    Anyone who doesn’t like it can kiss my meat eating ass. Keep your self righteous virtue signaling morals away from my eating habits. I have enough frustration with a bunch of busy bodies trying to tell me how to think and what to say, I don’t need you telling me what to eat. If you want to eat kale and locally grown organic tree branches at your local fair trade coffee shop and smugly smile at the other virtuous patrons while you opine on the menu’s degree of suffering with the other dendrologists then have it, I don’t care. Leave me alone, and I will leave you alone in kind.

    Stay the flying fuck away from my Cheetos and beer while you are it, because there is no doubt that will be next, along with my ice cream and french fries. What is known is that you aren’t interested in convincing and cajoling someone to join the vegan religion, you are really just interested in imposing this upon the populace like Stalin.

    • Softclocks says

      Animals feel pain and a wide range of emotions.

      Wanting to stop this unnecessary terror is being Stalin.

      Really gets me nogging jogging.

      • That’s all you want, right? I don’t buy this for a second. It’s either animal rights activism or vegan signaling. If we changed to something a little more friendly to the animals would you then stop your activism and be satisfied? If we put the eating of animals on the ballot, how would you vote? The goal here is to stop people from eating animals because a tiny minority of people feel it is immoral. It is utterly transparent. Similar to gun rights this is a smokescreen for stopping everyone from eating meat.

        There is plausible deniability in a “factory farms” debate but ten minutes after that goal is obtained it will be a new discussion to stop eating meat because of global warming. I’ve been to pig and chicken farms, I know what they are. They are growing meat as crops. I also have driven through large cities and no longer wonder how millions of people get their pork and chicken.

        The issue is liberty. I don’t think vegans would take kindly to being forced to eat meat because a sect of religious plant lovers thought they were immoral. People are going to become instantly defensive when you base the argument in moral terms. That is why articles like this aren’t even an attempt to convince somebody, they are self congratulatory scriptures to the believers that they are morally superior to others. Enjoy your false superiority.

        • Softclocks says

          Seems like you’re more preoccupied with the imagined motivations of unnamed and unknown vegans than you are with any drawback or benefit to that particular diet.

          These animals have complex emotional lives and they feel pain. I will not support factory farming as long as I have another financially and logistically viable alternative.

  35. A. Nilsson says

    I’m quite concerned on the pro-vegan/anti-meat health claims people are making here. Really grinds my gears when people proclaim to hade the right dietary solution that will work for everyone.
    There are several cases of people enduring extreme suffering whilst trying a plethora of non-meat diets before switching to a carnivore/meat only diet, and watching their crippling digestive issues or other chronic disorders malt away.

    I’m not making any claim in the “kill animals vs not kill animals” debate, just felt the need to speak up on behalf of self-investigative dietism. Eat what makes you feel best, there’s no 1-size-fits-all in the world of diets.

    • @ A.N.: and wear what you prefer and feels best: jeans from a (highly unsafe) Bangla Deshian factory where child labour is practiced, price 15 euro, or one from your own country with good labour conditions, for 30 euro, or over.

  36. 100 billion domesticated animals on this world? How is that possible? So, for me alone (carnivore in the rich west) about 12? Well, 2 chickens (1 hen, 1 broiler), that’s right, but then? Much less than 1 cow (about 1/8 of a cow), less than 1 pig, and almost no horses. Also, ,much, much less than 1 goat or sheep, because we scarcely eat mutton, so where is the beef of the 12? OK, if you add up all the broilers that are slaughtered for me in a whole year (about 9), then it’s easier to reach, but that’s quite another matter, of course. Broilers only live about 45 days, poor things! So, in a year, you can have quite a lot all together.

  37. I look back at millennia of animal farming and don’t have a problem with it.

    • But, Max, animal factories are something of just only the last few decades!

  38. Yavor says

    Do I want animals to suffer? Of course not. If we can have some *efficient* alternative to animal-based protein and fats, good, free the animals.
    However, right now we don’t. Plant based foods are very inefficient, we absorb like 75% of their nutrients compared to 99% of animals. Plus, we end up with a whole deal of unnecessary carbohydrates, which, it gets more and more acknowledged, are incredibly harmful to us, they even cause cancer (meat has been getting a lot of bad rep for that, but it turns out it is our healthiest option). So no, I’m not making any compromises with my health for the sake of animals’ welfare.
    Not to mention, animals are used for far more than mere food.
    Also, animals themselves feed on other animals – doesn’t get more natural than that.
    And to conclude, plants need animals too to grow. Actually all this has been elaborated in another, great, Quillette article – https://quillette.com/2018/04/05/case-sustainable-meat/

  39. It looks like it’s very, very difficult (if not impossible) for people from US, Canada,Europe and Australia to imagine that farm husbandry and meat production is quite possible (though somewhat more expensive) without factory farming and cruel practices. A serious lack of realism. Just read this Foer, -Eating animals-, as mentioned above (I also came with examples above). He writes about many such examples, I remember a Turkey farm where everything went OK, even for the rather critical Foer. Have we gone so far down with our western civilisation? It really looks like!!

    • Not Turkey but turkey of course, the fowl, sorry! And I see that Stoic just reasons here below as if this comment was not written at all, or is not worth being considered, but, maybe that’s how the stoicist should react

  40. Stoic Realist says

    We have a lot of discussion in this thread but in the end it is simple. Some people don’t want to eat meat and that is fine. Singer people choose to eat meat. That is also fine as people are entitled to make their own choices. The problem is that many of those who don’t eat meat want to compel everyone else to stop. That is not acceptable. In service to which they dredge up a set of facts that fit their confirmation bias while ignoring all of the facts that conflict with their predetermined desire. This is also unacceptable. The core of free societies is that people get to make their own choices. This means that omnivores are allowed to choose to be omnivores. (The hyperbolic moral comparisons in this aren’t worth mentioning as they are sound and fury signifying nothing.)

    For some people, particularly those who have grown up directly involved with the cycle is nature, the choice to retain their place in the ecosystem of the world is important to them. I am among that list. I will continue to eat meat and if it should happen that I am one day consumed by another animal that is fine too.

    • If we leave the case of (type of) animal husbandry, meat production and consumption a matter of free individual choice and free society, than this will be the end of it, where Indians , Africans and Chinese enter the stage. The fate of the planet and animal welfare in the hands and minds of free consumers? And this well could be the future, because the times where it was possible to end a practice like savery, by international law, also is pure history, the UN will not (cannot) enter in these matters anymore!

  41. Spotted this in a book I was reading about health/fitness:

    In the course of researching and interviewing for this book, I encountered dozens of former vegan women and would-be mothers who had miscarriage after miscarriage until they reintroduced animal products into their diets, after which they were able to become pregnant in a matter of weeks.

    Based on the above and my own experiments, I’ve concluded that some form of animal product is necessary for proper hormone production. This could be due to the longer-chain fatty acids, saturated fat, cholesterol, fat-soluble vitamins, or (more likely) a combination of interdependent elements, some of which we haven’t even identified. It’s also possible that common vegetarian staples cause the problems, whether soya or gluten. Either way, it’s significant that boys born with hypospadias, the opening of the urethra on the underside of the penis rather than at the tip, are five times more likely to have vegetarian v. omnivore mothers.

    Dr Richard Sharpe, director of the Medical Research Centre for Reproductive Biology in Edinburgh, Scotland, echoes my conclusions about soya:

    “I’ve seen numerous studies showing what soy does to female animals. Until I have reassurance that it doesn’t have this effect on humans, I will not give soy to my children.”

    The book is called The 4-Hour body by Timothy Ferris, I read it for the fitness and exercise content but I ended up changing my diet based on the nutrition and food references made throughout. As I like to try things for myself to see if they work and not rely on supposed government health advice, I can report back that the changes I made had a positive effect so therefore I would call that a scientific success.

    As for factory farming, I’m of the opinion that if welfare laws are followed and animals are treated humanely then that is at least a start. I would rather there were less large scale farms and that our meat quality was higher and more local, but unfortunately the issue of cost always takes centre stage.

    GMOs, growing crops for fuel at the expense of food and the destruction of forest land for bio crops is a tragedy. I find it absurd that a company that creates a toxic weedkiller also manipulates the DNA of a plant to deter/kill insects with a similar product. At some point GMO plants grown for food will be regularly consumed by humans who will effectively be digesting round-up. I just don’t think it is a wise move and time will tell what impact it will have on the human reproductive system.

    • steve says

      I think it ultimately comes down to the issue of population density. The globe is highly overpopulated already and will become something completely untenable in the next 50 years. Living in high density cities is not healthy for people or the planet. That is unfortunately the direction humans chose. I for one will stay on my farm and produce high quality grass fed beef and fowl. I have a one to one relationship with the animals I care for.

      Bless the urban born vegans. They will continue to sporadically reproduce and their offspring will be even more gender blended. As a sub-species they will eventually become extinct.

  42. Factory farming is barbaric and morally disgusting. Because they are raised in such squalid cramped conditions, these animals must be dosed with anti-biotics or they would sicken and die. Industrial farming is one of the biggest contributors of anti-biotic resistance. Raise these creatures humanely (or don’t eat them at all, as you prefer). Better for them and better for us.

    • Easily said, -it has a price-, a well known fact, another one is that 90% of interrogated people think that factory farming is not a right thing to do. All of this is rather unimportant, as long as governments don’t forbid certain practices. People in shops will always just simply go for the cheapest (= the most animal unfriendly) thing. I see it here next door: for every client in a fair trade shop, there are 100 or more in a normal super. It could even be 1000 to 1.

  43. Murphy says

    Only those who have never been survival stage hungry can believe humanity is currently at a point where we can begin to consider the plight of lesser sentient beings.

    If you shudder to think about the cruelty humans inflict upon animals, whether by our own hands or through the operation of our machines, how can you not weigh it against the history of what we are capable of doing to our own neighbors and kin? Cannabilism and infanticide rear their ugly heads every time we reach the point of staring death through starvation’s eye. Do you seriously believe that a man or woman, who has witnessed their infant child starve to death, cares one lick about the suffering of a pig or a chicken? If you do it is likely because you have insulated from death.

    While it gives me hope that man can recognize the virtue in kindness towards the energy we understand as life, it sickens me that nearly half the population of America defaults to wishing to take away, rather than to add, to our knowledge. If you recognize the suffering of others, whether human or other, stop taking the lazy route of trying to use police force to accomplish your goal. Life is hard for everyone and everything. The right thing to do is usually not the easiest. The onus is on you to find a better way to provide protein for the masses. Empathy will come in time. Throw your passion towards the advancements of those capable of creating a powerful new energy source. We are on the cusp of mining asteroids for precious and rare metals, this will make strip mines irrelevant. Whenever we obtain cheaper or more efficient transmission of energy we can in turn enact changes to multiple systems, which almost automatically becomes focused on food production.

    My underdeveloped theory is that many people have a poor conception of scale. Wholistic science eludes us so we, by necessity, default to reductionist techniques. How can you look at the stars and then work off the assumption that subtraction is the go to solution. The answer might be that you lack imagination, drive, or the ability to accept that you, as we all are, are flawed. Just remind yourself, whenever you bemoan the inability of your fellow humans to see your logic, that positive possibilities might be infinite too.

    That many in the West are able to contemplate the suffering of others, is in itself, an enormous feat, but if not coupled with the acknowledgement that death is imment, for all life, it gives rise to a dangerous disillusionment that threatens all accumulated knowledge.

  44. N E Brooks says

    Some real problems here … first with the use of “facts” early on.

    1) There are 100 Billion farm animals … No, most sources say 60-70 Billion. Still a lot! But why say 100 Billion except to set an emotional trigger?

    2) To allege cruelty off the bat as “assumed” in factory farms. That’s opinion and an emotional plea, not a fact. If you haven’t raised lifestock or lived in close proximity for long periods of time, you don’t know much about sickness and cruelty.

    3) The “consensus” and “opinion” that farm animals are “sentient” beings who feel pain like humans is again, not a fact. It is an opinion.

    Further, the author ought step back on the alleged science of caloric efficiency. The data is out of context, if not flat wrong. With 7 billion human souls to feed, the reason we have factory farms is precisely because it is more efficient. Organic or free range methods would require enormous amounts of new land be put under the plow or blade. And the possibilities of the synthetic meat production methods would also be set back, because the entire agricultural production system would starve it of raw materials (i.e., growth media).

    The analysis just doesn’t cut it.

    • William Carrol says

      The fact that factory farming is contingent upon the routine use of antibiotics is a sign that the factory farm makes animals sick.

      Organic animal farming doesn’t require routine antibiotic use. Because the animals are placed in a natural, healthy environment.

      Putting animals in the unnatural, confined environment of a steel cage and a concrete floor, where you are certain they will get sick, when there is an alternative method which will not cause this suffering, is as pure a definition of intentional cruelty as one can get.

      To those of you who think meat is just something that shows up wrapped in plastic at the supermarket, the difference may seem trivial.
      I’ve worked in both types of farm and based on what I’ve witnessed, the difference in suffering experienced animals in CAFOs and pasture is colossal.

    • Jesus Christ N.E.Br, please read first the comments before you start yours, before you come up with your doubts. BTW, also those 60-70 is big nonsense, what was meant, obviously, was, the animals (whether cattle or chicken) slaughtered in a year, worldwide, which is quite something else as what is, at a certain moment, living together on earth with us humans, because broilers have a very short life.

      • (but could be right where you count also the farmed fishes, muscles and shrimps, then it could run into the trillions, though, the life of a muscle cannot be compared with that of an intelligent and sentient (more so than a dog) pig of course!!)

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  46. Wonder how many of you have actually raised and slaughtered your own meat?

    • I wonder how many will respond on this D. I have, but just only a few chicken for supper. When young, almost everybody knew how to do this, chicken (also rabbits, pigeons, ducks) were raised near the house, the cockerels and old hens (for soup) were slaughtered and prepared. My uncle also slaughtered his sheep. Pigs were slaughtered by a butcher, in front of your house, it was a spectacle where neighbours and others came to see (and enjoy??). The father of a friend in Kroatia butchers his pigs even now, to save the butcher’s fee, every young man there knows how (you need more than 1 to do it). All this is history. Children now grow up in cities, with pictures of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Bambi and a pet to talk with and to walk , 98% (some parents are vegetarians and force their kids to eat the same) eat meat ,prepared from neat plastic packages from the supers. Almost all say to hate factory farming, but all buy their finished and packed produce in the supers. So, there is a tremendous hypocrisie in such subjects. Suffering is kept out of sight, and (partly, because of the media) out of conscience. Still, it exists, but in a hidden world.

      • That’s really a coincidence, we just got a phone call from that friend’s father that he cannot come to see us this week because he still has to slaughter, cut and cure two pigs (rural work always is more important than personal appointments). I wonder how many commenters here can imagine that such things still exist! yes, in Europe, but not in the rich Western part!

  47. The Naikan says

    I just can’t behind this until we first tackle the torture and killing of unborn humans. Seems our priorities are a little askew here.

  48. TD2000 says

    Thank you for bringing attention to this topic — so rare!

    Factory farming is not only a national disgrace, it’s a human disgrace. Our species should literally be ashamed at what we do to the animals we so casually eat.

    Veganism is an obvious solution, but most people don’t have the time, opportunity, and money to be vegans. For me, I only buy meat from local farmers whose farm I can visit to ensure they are truly humane — not the faux humane that the USDA and industry pushes. This means that the animals are raised outdoors, on pasture, in the fresh air and sunshine.

    Yes, it’s double the price, but here’s the solution: buy half as much. That’ll be better for you, better for the environment, and certainly better for the animals.

  49. Stephen Smith says

    I read Sapiens where this subject was promoted in some detail. The idea that this will happen in the short term is fanciful. The well healed millinneal who pays for humane treatment animals or eschews animal food altogether is a tiny outlier in the world of food consumption. You would be appalled at what animals in the third world are consumed, and how they are consumed. Imagining your point of view will change these practices any time soon only looks feasible from a table at an expensive restaurant in San Francisco. Also I note that not even social justice Dems make this crusade a prominent part of their agenda. When and if they ever do, you will see the feasibility of this radical idea becoming popular in the US. It will be even harder in the rest of the world.

    I hope you know that in nature, hardly any animals die of old age (I recently went on a Wolf discovery program at Yellowstone where this point was made as a defense for reintroduction of wolves that have halved the elk population. Have you ever seen a baby elk torn apart by a wolf pack?). Wild animal lives are terrifying with constant predators ripping them apart, battles within their own species, and patricide (is that the right term?) such as male grizzlies consuming their young. Fish do that too. No where on earth are animal lives pleasant except in your and my living room and some Disney movies. I’m sure you’re not advocating adopting chickens a cows on a large scale. Looking at India is instructive too. Cows are sacred but have no value. They wander the streets as emaciated skeletons waiting to be hit by a passing car. I can’t imagine what happens to them in the countryside.

    So I do agree with one part of your thesis. That if cheaper, healthy and good tasting food can replace meat, people will move toward that alternative. It will take a long time. I am also hopeful that conditions on industrial farms will be improved. Again this will depend on producers being able to reduce costs or improve quality or both by introducing humane processes, and will be driven by research and technology. It will not be driven by a political movement or some wishful moralizing that most people globally will reject. I would suggest that whoever funds your organization moves their funding to universities that are likely to develop these improvements, as opposed to just writing about them. Can you tell me which land grant university is doing the most forward research in how to make industrial farms more productive by introducing humane processes? If not, maybe you need to examine your own research methods and motivation for writing this article.

    Finally I’d like to ask you to imagine the world you long for far in the future. This is a fictional scenario but is every bit as feasible as what you suggest. Industrial farming has ceased to exist. Cows and chickens have been released into the wild as owners are no longer willing to feed them since have no value. In some states destroying the animals has been proposed but it is opposed as being too expensive or too inhumane. Wolves, mountain lions, bears and coyotes have expanded their range as these animals have dispersed and become easy prey. These predators also have a tough time telling the difference between your dog fluffy and a released chicken. It all looks like food to them (this is already happening with mountain lions and wolves in Montana and Wyoming. Right now in the US protection of deer has led to exploding populations across the – more deer now than when the pilgrims landed – and has allowed the expansion of a variety of predators. Coyotes are the most visible now, but mountain lions are showing up in populous neighborhoods in places like California and Washington too). Back to my fictional world – as cows and chickens become scarce to the point of extinction, “museum farms” spring up as the animal’s last refuge. They are protected by farmer reinactors who defend the animals from predators and harvest the older animals to sell to wealthy benefactors who find that there is nothing like this prehistoric food in the current processed fare. The sales help fund the museum farms. A movement starts that claims processed natural food substitutes are the invention of big corporations that are hiding the research that shows these manufactured foods are the source of a variety of human diseases and demand that the world return to biological natural foods and not just allow access for the rich. Lion and wolf populations have become so large that elk disappear from Yellowstone as cows and chicken are wiped out and predators turn back to those herds except in much greater numbers. In the west, people stop being able to let dogs and cats out at night or to hike or run alone because of the threat from predators. Eventually the government puts a bounty on predictors to try to get the populations under control.

    Is this what you were hoping for by ending industrial farming?

    Steve

  50. Oldgit says

    I was surprised to see Bill Nye, a proponent of the myth of multiple genders, described as a science educator.

  51. Solomon says

    Nobody knows what people of XXII century will think of us. Human beings are predators by nature. There is nothing to be ashamed of eating meat – this is our nature. The author and others like him suggest to change human nature because of some false definition of morality. This is exactly approach the communists theorized about and implemented in countries they captured by force.

    The animal farms can be abandoned only and only if and when real substitution for meat is found. Already now it is possible to grow substituents for meat artificially with the same test, but it is extremely expensive. It is clear that in future it will become much cheaper, than natural meat. Then and only then we will reduce production of natural meat .

  52. As a final (?) comment: this is now the 3rd essay on the meat/vegetarian/animal cruelty issue, and there is absolutely no resulting discussion, or conclusion reached on this interesting social subject here, though Claire advocates her platform as one for free thought and organic come-together. Two essays of Jacy Reese (this one and The case for veganism, 27 march, and the case for sustainable meat of Keir Watson, april 5th. Also these two had completely different views, and there was no reference from the one to the other.
    All in all, I think that a certain commenter ,tds, commenter here above, hit the nail with his finding that in none of the comments the slightest attempt is made to listen to one another, to convince somebody, it’s just all self congratulating scripture (as is the case of almost al blogs of course, lamentably). There seems to be no place for nuance and complexity thinking, as so nicely explained in -Nuance, a Love Story-, Meghan Daum. And that whereas the subject screams for nuance, and social solutions are not even difficult to come by, compared to, eg the slavery issue of once. Because, meat consumption without factory and cruelty is rather practical alternative, and existing already, even in Europe and US, the ones as given by Safran Foer (and me, the iberico ham described above) are maybe rather expensive, 3x normalprice, but other, less totalitarian alternatives don’t need to cost even more than 30-50% of those of the bottom price factory ones. Why is it, that not even one here came to the conclusion: “well, maybe I could buy also a little bit less, and more of animal friendly meat, or vote for a party that wants to get rid of the extremes of animal factories”. Nohow, that doesn,t exist anymore in Blog World! Nohow, that was history, nuance and complexity thinking is only good for a book title, and that for very few readers ( to put aside, after reading). Really, really hopeless! The binary world of tribalism and polarisation , Yohow!!

  53. Pingback: Why It’s Time to End Factory Farming https://quillette.com/2018/10/20/why-its-time-to-end-factory-farming/ … via @QuilletteM Time to Re Think Family Farming & Bring it back Free Range chickens. Good for chickens. Good for people Good for the

  54. Isaac says

    There’s a fair bit of over-optimistic Futurism in the idea that lab-produced meat will match the taste and nutritional value of actual meat, with no downside.

    It wasn’t that long ago when margarine was pushed as a low-fat victory of Science over the patriarchal evil known as butter. No one thinks so now.

    I think it’s just as likely that “clean meat” turns out to have its own crop of unintended problems.

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  56. Grass-fed, free range beef is all very well, but there certainly isn’t enough arable land in the world to feed any more than a small fraction of the world’s population on it. Certainly, there is some grazing land that can’t be cultivated, but it depends on what crops you’re dealing with. Land that might not grow wheat may still be able to grow finger-millet. Its likely that as population increases, we are going to have to do more with less.

    Some element of factory farming is probably necessary. Chickens don’t seem to mind being raised in a barn. Its a miserable life for a cow or pig, though.

    Forage fish, like sprats and sardines, offer a much better lipid profile than red meat as well as zinc and other benefits – and its much better for the environment, overall. Filter feeding shellfish like oysters have practically no adverse environmental impacts at all.

  57. That’s right Bab, the Chinese left their millet (grows in dry climates) and went for the much higher yielding maize, wheat and sweet potatoes, often with irrigation. They had to, with only 1/10th of a ha per person. Until the 1990s, pigs were kept as backyard animals, raised with offals and weeds, but factory farming is taking over now, poor pigs. Sudan has 14 million dairy cows (50% more than the US) , immense areas under natural grass, but almost no milk, because their dairy types and management is below any standards. I read in my newspaper, that Sudan alone could feed all of Africa. Yes, the land and the possibilties are there, but the breeding and technology (and safety) fails tremendously. What I want to say, land is no problem, not even for animal husbandry, productivity is (use of fertilizer, disease control etc) And factory farming is just economics, no necessity,not in the Sudan, not in the US, not even in China (though, land might be too costly there to have it under grass and cattle, therefore, beef never has been or is much eaten there).

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