Food or friends? The recesses of your logical mind know slaying an animal brings meat to the table. Sentient beings or snacks, moral or immoral. Spirited argument and counter arguments, with myself! Questions to grapple with as we learn disturbing facts of the inhuman treatment of employees of a job none of us is willing to do, but willingly consume the produce.
As pet owners we cherish our animals, and possess an unlimited capacity to love, share and nurture. We anthropomorphise our pets with an unhealthy obsession to call them our children, dress up in “twinning sets” and splurge on “doggy maternity shoots!” We’ve blurred the lines of species, race and colour. So the age old question how do you adore one species and eat another?
Why is Oliver, a pet company, sharing thoughts on a pandemic, factory farms or worker migration? Because we are part of the eco system, we’ve contributed to it, perhaps encouraged and profited from it. As a A handful of us shelter in place, with the comfort of high speed internet, home delivery, Zoom calls, outings to buy essentials ensconced in masks and gloves. We’ve watched in horror as vulnerable sections of society across the world, animal and human become casualties of a circumstance beyond their control.
India is a magical paradox, I know because I live here, a land of ‘cow worshippers’ and milk drinkers. But India, a country with one of the youngest populations in the world is re thinking its choices. Big pharmaceutical, industry, meat, dairy . . . . grossly underestimated the power of the internet. A new generation learns, knowledge is power, and they are not shy about wielding this weapon.
“It is time to rethink how chickens are bred, treated and eaten, too. There is a whole new generation of people who care about where their food comes from, and how it is grown.” Hindustan Times, May 02, 2020
In India writing this opinionated factual account, if there is such a thing, watching from the comfort of a home as hundreds of thousands of workers, the heart and soul of this country, stagger for miles to find a way home. Their determination is fuelled by desperation and fear. Fear of the unknown, where will their next meal come from and when will they be self sufficient. A result of governments (globally) who are shockingly ill prepared to care for peoples and their missteps cost lives. It may seem insensitive to compare these people to animals on factory farms, but the truth is, their lives are strikingly and heartbreakingly similar. Born and raised for the purpose of contributing to an easier life for an influential consumer.
We are living through the reality of over used resources, ‘super sized’ everything and convince the world the only way to live is for yourself. Meat on our plates is a result of factory workers, famers, transporters, butchers. As an animal care company we’d be lying if we said we are not horrified at the current mass slaughter of animals, which will never be utilised for meat.
“Every day that you raise a pig, you’re raising it for food. You’re raising it to put it on someone’s table,” he says. “The thought that you’re gonna take what was food and just throw it away… it makes you sick to your stomach.” BBC News
We journey into Mr. Boerbooms mind, a third generation pig farmer. He views animals as food, a pig has no gender or personality.
Once an animal has an identity, it becomes an individual and mass slaughter is difficult to justify. Food or friends? Could you cook and eat your friend or pet?
Opinions diverge on our view of the pigs but meet Mr. Boerboom at a common crossroads – waste is selfish. Human beings are carefully coached to believe waste is inevitable and a way of life. It is not, it never has been . Waste is accepted by privileged peoples, because abundance is their reality.
Vegetarians, vegans, activists, many names for the ‘nut jobs’ no longer a bunch of grass eaters or smoothie drinkers! They are scientists, doctors, academics, teachers, lawyers, sportspersons, who recognise a gross deviation from traditional farming and an unsustainable way of living.
Farmers are the reason we (humanity) survive. They are the food and raw material producers of our planet. What nature gives us, they enhance, modify and make available to a citizenry who’s self reliance begins and ends at a grocery store.
Be honest for all our ‘live off the land bravado’
All we know about a potato is how to eat it!
This book is brilliant, hard to read at one go because the truths it exposes make justifying our choices problematic. If you have kids this is a must read, a single page of information will scare you into action.
© Eating Animals- Jonathan Safran Foer
As economists, statisticians, scientists men and women of reason urge governments to address the real and present danger of millions across the world who will die of empty stomachs rather than Covid 19.
Factory farms produce diet ‘staples’ meat, dairy, fish. The human cost of factory farms cannot be ignored, but in the chaos of a global pandemic, these are the forgotten essential workers. They are vulnerable in normal times because of their hazardous jobs and now they are expendable. Financially vulnerable and virtually voiceless, these workers like the millions of vulnerable migrant workers in India are ‘casualties’ of Covid 19. They do not now, nor have they ever had the luxury of asking, “food or friend”
Abhorrence of the meat industry for numerous people is not so much the consumption of meat as it is the horrid conditions in which meat is raised, treated, transported and slaughtered. Mental health concerns of factory farm workers have repeatedly been brought into question.
From the richest to the poorest continents, faceless workers suffers.
It is on a global scale, factory farms are as undesirable for the animals lead to slaughter as they are for the employees of these facilities. President says one person infected 533 with coronavirus at Ghana fish factory .
If an animal is not wild is it domestic?
Numerous studies acknowledge the uncanny ability of our cats and dogs to communicate with us. Some of the most meaningful conversations I have had are with my dogs. From Aristotle to Singer to Foer, across centuries, people of reason acknowledge animals are sentient beings. If we recognise cats and dogs as domestic and sentient beings. Here’s an uncomfortable question, what are goats, cows, horses and chickens? No longer wild, are they domestic? So are we eating food or are we eating our friends?
If we acknowledge the intelligence of pigs, inquisitiveness of chickens and cow cuddling is as business/therapy, how do we continue to eat each of these 3 animals? Though the cow you hug at lunch, will not end up on your dinner plate, it may well be her cousin.
Gieling ET, Nordquist RE, van der Staay FJ. Assessing learning and memory in pigs. Anim Cogn. 2011;14(2):151‐173. doi:10.1007/s10071-010-0364-3
As the truth of our lives unravels it is ugly. The tragedy of Covid 19, which for poor and developing countries is abject poverty, mass migration and starvation, we are now forced to acknowledge reality. Our lives have been sustained by voiceless human beings and animals.
Food or friends, was a struggle. Behind the scenes, 14 days, 72 major & minor revisions and still dissatisfied. There will never be enough said, or the perfect solution. We’ll struggle to find an elusive answer, and simply saying kindness is the answer no longer seems acceptable.
Note: We do not advocate turning your pets vegan, for individual dietary needs consult your vet or a pet nutritionist. Personal choices as human beings must not extend to our pets without veterinary advice.