"Another bacon burger, anyone?"
"If my competitor were drowning, I'd stick a hose in his mouth and
turn on the water."
"'a funny, jowly, canny, barbarous guy who lives in a
multimillion-dollar condo on Park Avenue in Manhattan and conveys
himself about the planet in a corporate jet and a private yacht. At
sixty-seven, he is unrepentant in the face of criticism. He describes
himself as a "tough man in a tough business"'.."The animal-rights
people," he once said, "want to impose a vegetarian's society on the
U.S. Most vegetarians I know are neurotic.""
--Jeff Tietz's description of meat processing magnate, Joseph Luter
III (from his Rolling Stone article, "Boss Hog")
Despite the obvious signs that our nation is declining rapidly and
despite the increasing global animosity against us for our greed,
excesses, hypocrisy, and belligerence, we US Americans are defiantly
"staying the course". Neither harsh reality nor the ire of the world
community has shaken our foundations. Mouthing hollow platitudes about
freedom and liberty while supporting a war machine perpetrating
genocide in Iraq, we mindlessly buttress a socioeconomic system some
of history's most notable fascists would envy.
Since the meat industrial complex represents such a rich example of
the abject inhumanity of American Capitalism, corporations like
Smithfield Foods and McDonald's were so instrumental in the growth of
this complex, and men like Kroc and Luter profited so handsomely from
such a massive entity's existence, let's scrutinize the devastation
this abominable entity is wreaking upon our fur, feather and
scale-bearing cousins, the Earth, and humanity.
According to muck-raking journalist Eric Schlosser, US Americans spent
over $110 billion on fast food in the year 2000, more than they did on
higher education. Aside from being a tragic indicator of our grossly
misplaced priorities, this shocking statistic is an indictment of
McDonald's and its ilk. Ubiquity, affordability, convenience,
laboratory-developed great taste, and a capacity to manipulate public
opinion that puts Bernays to shame enable fast food giants to spread
like noxious weeds, annihilating hapless "mom and pop" competitors
like so much "collateral damage" in a US imperialistic invasion.
And what red-blooded American would leave the drive-thru without a Big
Mac, chicken nuggets, sausage biscuit, bacon burger, fish sandwich, or
some other delightful victual containing meat?
To keep up with the sky-rocketing demand for meat caused by the
mass-production and mass consumption of fast food, men like Luter
jumped to the fore to pioneer factory farming and "vertical
integration" of the industry.
Thanks to corporate behemoths, livestock producing family farms are
all but extinct. In the United States, 54% of cattle are raised by 5%
of the nation's farms and corporate entities produce a staggering 98%
of our poultry (2).
While many pets in our country receive better care than billions of
deeply impoverished humans in developing countries, we consume the
flesh, fat, and muscle of sentient beings merely to satiate our
carnivorous desires. Compounding this barbarism is the fact that this
behavior enriches those who condemn millions of pigs, cattle, fish,
and chickens to abbreviated and miserable existences.
Consider these disturbing facts (17, 18, and 19):
--80% of starving children live in countries where there is actually a
grain surplus, but farmers use the grain to feed livestock in order to
sell meat to wealthier nations
--Due to its profitability, cattle ranching is rapidly replacing the
cultivation of essential crops in Central and South America (where
millions of people are malnourished or starving). Deforestation to
create cattle pasture is also occurring at an alarming rate.
--Over 70% of the grain that we grow goes to feed livestock. Of the
calories animals derive from this grain, only a small percentage
yields meat for human consumption.
While not easy, shunning the egregiously deleterious meat industrial
complex is a simple first step. To learn more, go to
Disclosure Statement: The author of this essay converted to
vegetarianism two months ago. As a result, he has experienced
spiritual, physical, and mental invigoration. He highly recommends it.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed
himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically, his
essays been widely published, he is an associate editor for Cyrano's
Journal Online, and he volunteers at homeless shelters. He welcomes
constructive correspondence at [email protected] or via his
blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/