Practical Issues > Health - Index > Vegan Index

link to facts from John Robbins' book, "Diet for a New America"

Food Facts

The killing of over 5 million companion animals each year because there are not enough homes for them is cause for great concern and heartbreak for most Americans but the lives and slaughter of six billion animals each year for food is a tragedy concerning relatively few people. Even with an increasing number of people turning to vegetarianism (for health and humane reasons), the human population is increasing at such a catastrophic pace that animal farming has become "intense"; in its rush to feed a meat-based diet to an ever-increasing number of humans, factory farms are now the norm and the system is driven by profit. Animals raised for food production are specifically excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act. The intense production required to "harvest" animals in such enormous numbers equates to a living hell for the animals -overcrowding, confinement, excessive reproduction and an unnatural diet that includes antibiotics and other drugs to combat disease and increase the animals' size and rate of growth.

Do you know where your next meal is coming from?

    For those who have forgotten, for those who never knew and even for those who never gave it any thought, we hope the following information (more to come in later issues) will help you decide to give up your animal-based diet. We realize that this change in lifestyle is not easy (but nothing worthwhile ever is) but as well as saving the lives of countless animals, it would improve your health, probably save you money and you'll definitely help the environment. (More on that subject in a later issue of CONTACT.)


    Male dairy calves are taken from their mothers at 1- or 2-days-old. For their entire lives they are separated and chained in a stall 22" wide, unable to turn around or even lie down in a natural position, denied light, exercise and even straw bedding (because they might eat it) and fed only one substance - a mixture of milk by-products, fat, antibiotics, other additives and water. This substance is deficient in iron and causes chronic diarrhea, respiratory and intestinal diseases but is used so that at slaughter, anemic calves yield the desired "white" flesh.


    After impregnation, a sow is locked in a narrow metal gestation crate, 18 to 24" wide and just long enough to extend beyond the sow's body. She is restrained in this unbedded, cement-floored crate for her entire pregnancy (nearly 4 months) unable to walk or turn around. Some factory farms literally tie the sow to the floor by a short chain or a strap around her neck. Near the end of her pregnancy, the sow is moved to yet another restraining device, the farrowing crate, where she gives birth to and nurses the piglets, eats, sleeps, defecates, drinks, stands and lies. Piglets are removed from their mother at 3 weeks of age, put into crowded pens with floors of bare wire mesh, perforated metal, plastic-coated metal, fiberglass or concrete, with no straw or other bedding.


    The English translation means "fatty liver" - but that description would obviously turn most people away from ever eating this "gourmet food". What would really change the mind of anyone thinking of eating this so-called delicacy is tile way it is produced: A wide pipe is shoved down the duck's throat three times a day, every day. Pumped into the duck's stomach, through a pipe, is so much corn, oil and salt mush that the duck breathes some of it into his lungs and has difficulty walking afterward. Many ducks die from burst stomachs before the force-feeding swells their livers to the desired eight times normal size. The duck's esophagus sustains such severe injuries that it will no longer be able to eat on its own if the force feeding is stopped. Ducks used in making foie gras suffer from liver disease called hepatic lipidosis, in which the liver swells, causing constant pain and eventually breaks down completely. When the liver has finally reached the desired size, the bird is killed.