In the U.S. alone, nearly 10 billion animals (excluding sea animals) are slaughtered for human consumption every year—more than 1 million animals every hour. Most are kept on "factory farms," where the goal is to raise the greatest number of animals in the least amount of time and space possible. As the agribusiness industry is almost entirely exempt from basic U.S. animal cruelty laws, they are legally allowed to callously exploit animals. Instead of being treated as the living, feeling beings they are, farmed animals are viewed as mere commodities whose sole purpose in life is to produce flesh, milk, or eggs for humans.

While many countries have banned the battery cage system because of its inherent cruelty, U.S. egg producers still cram four to five hens in a 12- by 18-inch wire cage. The cages are stacked one on top of another, forcing the chickens in lower rows to live in the excrement of those above them. When egg production begins to decline among layers, the "spent" hens go directly to slaughter, destined to become lesser grade meat.

Chickens raised for their flesh and modern pigs in factory farms have been bred to grow so fast that their bones are unable to support their unnaturally enormous body weight, leaving them to suffer from chronic bone problems and often unable to walk or even stand comfortably. The intense confinement of pigs in factory farms leads to fighting and tail-biting. The industry's answer to this is not more humane living conditions, but rather cutting off the tails of baby pigs and castrating them (to make them less aggressive), both without the use of anesthesia.

As with any mammal, cows produce milk when pregnant and stop after their calves have been weaned. Interestingly, humans are the only species which drinks the breast milk of another species (and yet we still accept the claim that "milk is natural"). To ensure the highest milk yield possible, modern dairy farmers artificially inseminate the cows and keep them pumped full of steroids and hormones.

If the calf is female, she will join her mother on the dairy line. If the calf is male, he will be sold to a veal farm within the first one to three days of his life. Veal calves spend their entire lives chained inside a crate too small for them to even turn around. Having never felt the grass beneath their feet, veal calves are sent to slaughter after 16 weeks of intense confinement.


Eating meat not only destroys our health and animals' lives, it's also killing the environmental integrity of our planet. More than any other human activity, raising animals for food is the leading cause of environmental degradation and resource depletion throughout the world today. Consider these facts:

By 1991, 92.7 million acres of tropical rainforest had been clear-cut for cattle grazing.
While 38,000 children die of starvation and malnutrition daily, cattle consume about 80 percent of the corn and 70 percent of the grain grown in the U.S.
In California, it takes only 23 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of tomatoes. At the same time, it takes 5,214 gallons to produce 1 pound of beef.


Countless studies have proven that heart disease—the number one killer in the U.S.—is caused by a diet high in animal fat and cholesterol. The American Dietetic Association, a leading authority on dietary matters, states that vegetarian diets are associated with a reduced risk for obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and kidney disease.

The animals of this world exist for their own reasons.
They were not created for humans
any more than blacks were created for whites,
or women for men.
—Alice Walker


As ethical individuals, we must decide whether the unconscionable suffering inflicted upon beings who experience many of the same emotions as humans (most importantly the ability to suffer), is justified by palate preference. As it is unnecessary to eat animal flesh (and most studies even suggest that it is healthier to abstain from it), how can we possibly continue to torture and kill billions of animals for food each year?

The conditions in which most animals raised for human consumption are forced to live are blatantly cruel and unjust. Yet, these conditions are only a symptom of a much larger fundamental injustice: animals raised to be eaten are treated as if they were mere "commodities," as means to human ends when in fact, they are sentient individuals, who like us, are owed respectful treatment.

We can survive without eating other animals. As we know that our lifestyle unnecessarily causes enormous suffering unto others, it is time to reevaluate our actions.

When you decide what to eat,
please choose compassion over killing.

The Nazarenes of  Mount Carmel
Copyright © 1999-2006. All rights reserved.

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