How much do we need to learn about factory farms before we stop supporting
them? The New York Times recently published a short article on the lives of 97%
of laying hens in America--those raised in battery cages. According to the
report, hens are allotted about 8" x 8" of space each, and packed six to a cage.
Although some of the country's biggest egg-producing states have recently agreed
to ban the implementation of new cages for egg-laying hens (existing cages can
stay), the life of a commercially raised chicken remains abysmal.
by Marc Bekoff
"Oh, I know animals suffer, but I love my steak": The self-serving resolution
of the "meat paradox"
Many people continue to eat animals knowing they're consuming misery
Published on August 5, 2010
There's no doubt that billions of factory-farmed and other animals suffer for
our gustatory delights, most of which are unnecessary. Now, a new study shows
just how far people will go so that they can continue to eat animals who
needlessly wind up at the end of their fork. Steve Loughnan of Kent University
in the UK and his colleagues discovered that "people
who wish to escape the ‘meat paradox’ i.e. simultaneously disliking hurting
animals and enjoying eating meat, may do so by denying that the animal they ate
had the capacity to suffer"
While some people stop eating meat when they learn that animals suffer an
overwhelming majority do not, and continue to enjoy their steaks knowing well
that they're eating pain and misery. They simply deny
moral status to the
sentient beings who wind up on their plates as if all's just fine. This very
important study shows "when there is a conflict between their preferred way of
thinking and their preferred way of acting, it is their thoughts and moral
standards that people abandon first – rather than changing their behaviour.
‘Rather than change their beliefs about the animals’ moral rights, people could
change their behaviour,’ Loughnan said. ‘However, we suspect that most people
are unwilling to deny themselves the enjoyment of eating meat, and denying
animals moral rights lets them keep eating with a clear conscience’." I wonder
just how clear they're conscience is. When I was writing my book
The animal manifesto I continually talked with people who told me "Oh, I
know animals suffer, but I love my steak." They went on to offer lame excuses
such as "I just can't stop eating meat even when I think about the misery for
which I'm responsible." Sure they can. It's so easy it's laughable to think that
they not only deny sentience to the animals they consume but also deny that
non-animal alternatives are readily available, even "fake meats." And it's also
essential to remember that cows, pigs, and sheep who are unrelentingly tortured
on their journey to and when they temporarily reside on factory farms are no
less sentient than companion dogs or cats. Most people - likely all people -
would not let their companion animals trade places with these most unfortunate
We always must remember
it's not a matter of "what's" for dinner but "who's" for dinner as we
routinely and wantonly slaughter sentience for unneeded meals to the tune of
billions of animals per year. Surely we can do better and it's really easy for
most of us to stop consuming pain and misery.