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World Farm Animal Day – Oct 2nd

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, October 2nd, 2009 - 24 comments
Categories: animal welfare, farming - Tags:

Following on from yesterdays guest post on World Vegetarian Day, today is World Farm Animal Day. At the end of last year, I was a little bit involved in a documentary created by Animal Liberation Aotearoa called “Who are you having for dinner? The reality of meat production in New Zealand“.

On a trip up north with a friend, we stopped off at the Morewa slaughterhouse to have a look. In a field outside we saw a cow with blood dripping from her teats. We took some photos and video footage, and continued on our trip. All the way there and back I couldn’t stop thinking about this cow, and started thinking through what I could do to help her. The following day I hired a ute with a horse-float trailer and went back up to Morewa with a few others to try and rescue her. Unfortunately she was gone, but we went inside the slaughterhouse and took some footage of the cows that were in the slaughter line, ready to be killed the next day. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I actually shot some footage of “Bessie” as we had named her.

The video below pretty much explains my choice to be vegan.

Part One:

Part Two:

As for the heated the debate yesterday over the guest poster’s unfortunate choice of words (I don’t know the author): To put it simply, you cannot be a socialist, a greenie or any kind of progressive and eat meat.

It wouldn’t be how I would put it, but I guess we all in our own heads think our belief system is the most right or ethical or superior or whatever. The key thing is that we respect other viewpoints and work together where we do agree. That’s why in political lobbying on animal welfare I’m only trying to achieve gains where the public is already onside. At the same time, I would of course like to convince as many people as possible to personally go vegan!

I remember a few years ago, I participated in a 6 week investigation into a Tegel chicken farm. It was pretty intense, and involved going to the farm over a dozen times documenting the life of a shed of chickens, watching them grow so fast they couldn’t support their weight, watching many of them die of starvation or dehydration as the feeders were moved up each week to ensure only those that grew fast enough would survive, watching others stop being able to walk as leg tumors are a common deformity in chickens bred to grow so fast.

Some time during the investigation I went over to my mothers place for dinner and she served up a roast chicken (obviously not for me). While this is something I am normally fairly well adjusted to (most of the world eat meat), seeing what I was seeing at the time made me want to scream and yell and cry.

I imagine it to be similar to how someone involved in a union campaign might feel if they had to sit down for dinner with the CEO of the company that has illegally locked out its workers, knowing how that CEO’s choices are causing suffering for others. Or how someone who has just visited a sweat shop in a third world country might feel watching someone show off their brand new Nike shoes.

My grandparents were farmers, and even at one stage had a rabbit factory farm for angora fur. I struggled to get past that, and likewise they struggled with my decision to not eat meat. Initially they would attack me for not eating meat every time they saw me. Now we are past that and accept our differences. My grandmother even makes really yummy vegan food for me every time I visit.

You can get past the fact that people have different views, or have a different level of commitment in their personal life to consuming only ethical products. But that respect and tolerance goes both ways. I have been attacked for my choices far more often than I have attacked others for theirs.

One thing I learnt early on is that attacking someone is a good way to ensure you never convince them of your beliefs. I think that’s a lesson many people on all sides of the political spectrum need to learn.

24 comments on “World Farm Animal Day – Oct 2nd ”

  1. fraser 1

    “To put it simply, you cannot be a socialist, a greenie or any kind of progressive and eat meat.”

    to me that whole argument was poorly worded. As some pointed out many non-meat foods are also unsustainably produced.

    If it was made as an argument against industrialised food production and mono-cropping then they would have me on board.

    But it did bring back something i learned many years ago when i was more of a political rabble rouser.

    We all draw the line somewhere, and we are all hypocrites about something.

    eg: The whole “im a vegan to the point where i dont wear leather” thing falls over when it comes to something like shoes. (glue, rubber etc)

    – does using products built via the petrochemicals industry still make ‘you’ (us, them, me, myself, I ) more of a progressive greenie than someone who wears leather and eats organic meat?

    plastics?
    medicines?
    transport?
    electricity?
    etc
    etc

    • rocky 1.1

      I suspect being vegan is more environmentally friendly than wearing leather and eating organic meat – simply because half of NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions come dairy farming.

      But your overall point was valid – that things aren’t always that black and white.

      Personally, I’m not vegan for environmental reasons, though that is a nice added bonus. From an environmental perspective I would say if you wear leather or not, if you eat meat or not, consuming less is the way to be more progressive about it. I.e. I’m happy with a couple of pairs of shoes, I don’t need a wardrobe full of them.

      • ieuan 1.1.1

        But what about the jobs of the people who make shoes? Demand creates jobs.

        There is no reason you can’t make shoes in a sustainable way.

        • rocky 1.1.1.1

          Like most of the world, I still spend my discretionary income. Like the rest of the world, I spend my money on things I think are important, thereby creating a demand for things I like and creating jobs for things I like. In my case, that’s mostly books and internet services.

          As a consumer item, shoes will never be sustainable. Even if they’re produced sustainably, they’ll still end up in a landfill when they wear out.

          Suggesting that by not buying loads of shoes I am costing people jobs seems a little far-fetched.

          • ieuan 1.1.1.1.1

            ‘Suggesting that by not buying loads of shoes I am costing people jobs seems a little far-fetched.’

            So the actions of one person makes no difference?

            • rocky 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Not at all. But by not creating jobs in one area, I’ll be creating them in another. Job-neutral you could say 😉

      • lprent 1.1.2

        I can testify to that, having helped her move a few times.
        On the other hand moving that damn piano…..

        • rocky 1.1.2.1

          Yeah well I think you got me back a couple weeks ago when you moved. Those massive box size bags full of crap were awful to move! Boxes and furniture I can handle.

      • fraser 1.1.3

        “I suspect being vegan is more environmentally friendly than wearing leather and eating organic meat”

        i suspect your right 🙂

        was really speaking to the “if you claim your X then you have to be Y and Z” equation.

        regardless of the scenario, that sort of reasoning will always fall over as we live in a highly complex world.

        Or to bring it back to the “your not a real greenie…” angle, we can all be green and progressive about many things – but can we be green and progressive about everything? – ie: we all draw the line somewhere.

        PS: i like your methods of persuassion a whole lot more than the previous method of admonishment and coercion.

        • rocky 1.1.3.1

          Yes I did get your general point. It would be pretty impossible to be pure about everything. I have a pretty big weakness for takeaway coffee when I’m out and about. Of course that’s only one among many things I do that I know I shouldn’t.

  2. felix 2

    Excellent post, Rocky.

  3. ieuan 3

    Good post even if though I disagree.

    I count myself as someone who is fully aware of the reality of how meat is produced in New Zealand and someone who eats meat.

    I’ve worked in a freezing works (holiday job while at University), I saw sheep and cows being slaughtered and visited every part of the factory (I was part of the maintenance team).

    I’ve been to a Tegel factory and seen chickens being slaughtered (that is an eye opener) and visited a pig farm on a number of occasions.

    None of this is ‘nice’ and I’m happy for the slaughtering to be done by others and out of sight but eating meat is my personal choice. I guess if I had to I would kill an animal to eat it but it is not something I would relish.

    I’d like to see better practices at farms and think that animals should be treated with respect while they are alive but I don’t have any moral objection to the killing and eating of animals.

    • fraser 3.1

      “I guess if I had to I would kill an animal to eat it but it is not something I would relish.”

      as a ex-veg and born again meat eater (born again? – feels weird using that term) i faced the same question.

      But yes, if i want to eat meat, i have to be prepared to do the deed.

  4. felix 4

    Oh and well done everyone involved in making the film, it hits the right notes. Needs to be shown in schools as a catalyst to discussion.

  5. good on you for airing/publicising these issues..

    in yr vegetarian day thread i (erroneously) advised you to go vegan..

    (ahem..!..my bad..!..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  6. Sam 6

    “eating meat is my personal choice”

    It’s only a personal choice if no-one has been harmed by it. For example, liking one actor more then another actor is a personal choice, because no-one is harmed by it. Eating meat (or dairy, eggs etc.) is not a personal choice because someone is being harmed, the animal who was slaughtered. The same way it is not a ‘personal choice’ to rape someone. Rape, murder etc. are not personal choices because someone is being harmed by those choices. The same applies for animal products, such as meat, dairy and eggs.

    “The whole “im a vegan to the point where i dont wear leather’ thing falls over when it comes to something like shoes. (glue, rubber etc)”

    Rubber comes from a plant, and is therefore vegan. Glues can be both plant based and animal based. There are many places that sell shoes that have no animal products in the glues or anywhere else in the shoe. NZ has an entirely vegan shoe company called Deviate who sell work shoes, trainers, boots, hiking boots, sandals, high heel shoes, belts and more (http://www.deviate.net.nz/index.php) and Vans, Emerica, DC, Circa and ES all sell some vegan skate shoes.

    So no, the argument doesn’t all fall over, it just takes a bit of research.

    “As some pointed out many non-meat foods are also unsustainably produced”

    First of all, envrionmental issues isn’t the main reason for going vegan, just an added bonus. The main reason for going vegan is a belief that it’s wrong to treat animals as commdodities, to torture and kill them simply because we like how they/ their products tatse, look, feel etc. Here are some websites wwith more info on the animal rights reasons to go vegan

    http://www.abolitionistapproach.com
    http://www.nzeggs.webs.com
    http://www.nzdairy.webs.com

    Secondly, of course there are vegan foods that are produced unsustainably. However, I don’t think that any of them are as bad as animal products. It takes 16 kilograms of vegan food to produce just 1 kilogram of non vegan food. So basically eating animal products is like pulling out 16 plates of vegan food, eating one and then chucking the rest away. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s obviously horrible for world hunger. If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or her calories from animal products, only 3.2 billion people could be nourished. Dropping that figure to 15 percent would mean that 4.2 billion people could be fed. If everyone went vegan, there would be more than enough food to nourish the world’s entire population—more than 6.3 billion people.

    • fraser 6.1

      from the link you provided “Other materials include … PU or polyurethane is the most common man-made material ”

      OK – im no chemist – but im guessing that polyurethane is made via an industrialised chemical process 🙂
      (happy to admit error of my knowledge if proven wrong)

      “First of all, envrionmental issues isn’t the main reason for going vegan”

      yep – im down with the concept and i understand the argument as to why being vegan is more environmentally friendly – and i agree

      – But we are talking past each other a bit. Im (off topic – i know) responding to the claim that im not really a greenie progressive because im not vegitarian. – and while my initial example may not stack up in the long run, the argument that we all draw the line somewhere still stands.

      And admonishing others because they dont draw their line in the same place as yours is counter-productive.

      make a reasoned argument as you or rocky has, then great. I will listen with all ears. Tell me off and i will walk away.

      • Sam 6.1.1

        I agree that on environmental issues it is very difficult to draw the line. However I would like to put an emphasis on environmental. On moral issues I think lines can be drawn (more or less anyway).

        “Im (off topic i know) responding to the claim that im not really a greenie progressive because im not vegitarian”

        How do you define a greenie though? Is someone who drives a hummer a greenie? What about someone who refuses to recycle? Somone who consumes meat?

        To me, an environmentalist is someone who does their part to help the envrionement (however large or small that may be). So yes, you can be a ;greenie’ who eats meat. However, the point isn’t that you can do X and call yourself Y. The point is that animal products do huge environmental damage, probably far more then any other product. If you want to help the environment one of the best things you can do is to go vegan. That doesn’t neccesarliy mean taht nonvegans aren’t ‘greenies’

        In regards to the shoe thing, yes PU is made through an industrialized chemical process. However, not everything there contains PU. I recently brought a belt from Deivate that didn’t have any chemicals and was made recycled materials.

        Remember that leather has chemicals too. So buying leather shoes instead of vegan shoes with PU would still be worse for the envrionment, because there’s the chemical issue as well as the issues of raising animals for their products.

      • Sam 6.1.2

        “And admonishing others because they dont draw their line in the same place as yours is counter-productive”

        From an environmental issue, I agree completely. It’s impossible to draw lines with environmental issues. However as I have said before, the main issue for me is ethics

        In very complicated areas of ethics it’s hard to draw lines (is it OK to kill in self defense, is abortion OK etc.). However, everyday animal-ethics are not complicated. It is wrong to kill simply for reasons of pleasure, convenience or habit. Our only justifications for wearing leather, consuming milk, eating eggs, going to rodeos/ animal circuses etc, is that we derive pleasure from the look of leather, the taste of eggs, the entertainment of the rodeo, it’s convenient to eat animals and it’s habit to exploit animals. This is not a good justification for killing 53 billion animals evey year.

  7. Hobbo 7

    Too be honest I fail to see what the issue is with killing animals that have been bred for one reason – eating – thats the whole reason that they are bred, born, reared and grown out.

    Have I killed for the table myself?? – Sure. There is something satisfying about growing and slaughtering your own meat rather than the boner cow or mutton that gets sold in Supermarkets.

    • rocky 7.1

      Too be honest I fail to see what the issue is with killing animals that have been bred for one reason eating thats the whole reason that they are bred, born, reared and grown out.

      So it would be ok for me to kill and eat a human as long as I breed, rear and grow it myself?

      • Sam 7.1.1

        Remember that a similar argument could have been made about keeping slaves. “I don’t see what’s wrong with keeping slaves that have been bred for slavery”

        Just because a being has been bred specifically so that s/he can be slaughtered doesn’t make slaughtering that being OK.

        However, maybe I’m taking this the wrong way. Maybe the emphasis was meant to be on KILLING instead of on BRED FOR.

        There are (unfortunately) many people who think it’s OK to kill animals as long as they’re treated ‘humanely’. These people believe that animals have a right to avoid suffering, but not to avoid slaughter.

        First of all, let’s define what a right actually is. A right is merely a concept designed to protect an interest. For example, I have an interest in not being a slave, so I have a right not to be sold into slavery. Clearly animals have an interest in avoiding pain (they have complex nervous systems, move away from painful stimuli, react to pain in by contorting in agony, ‘screaming’ etc.)

        But do animals have an interest in a continued life? The answer is clearly yes. Watch the video in this link (http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/is-there-anything-that-you-want-to-eat-that-badly/#more-1579)

        Incase you don’t have time to watch the video, it shows two cows waiting in a chute to be led into the abattoir. An employee comes out and uses an electric prod to get the first cow to enter the abattoir. The second cow remains behind the door that has closed. She is clearly terrified. She knows that she is in trouble and this is not simply a matter of “instinct’. She is desperately looking for a way to get out of the chute. She may not have the same sorts of thoughts that beings who, like us, use symbolic communication, but it is clear that she has some equivalent sort of cognition. To say that she does not have a sense of having a life is beyond absurdity.

        The video is from a French slaughterhouse. But it does not really matter. All slaughterhouses are places of hell and unspeakable violence against the vulnerable. The video does not actually show any blood or gore, but it does show that non human animals clearly value their lives and to take their lives simply because we want to eat them/ their products is morally wrong

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