Warning: graphic violence. Only the first 3 minutes pertain to this post.
Anyone who watches the first 3 minutes of the above video will get a good sense of just how meaningless the term “humane” is when applied to exploiting and killing farmed animals. According to this farm’s youtube page, the farmer “draws from his years of experience to clearly demonstrate humane techniques to butcher a turkey.” What do you think? Is this more “humane” than what happens to factory farmed turkeys? The truth is that many of the worst cruelties inflicted on animals in factory farms are also routine practice on small, so-called humane farms. But even on farms where the animals being exploited are genuinely treated better, it’s important to recognize the inherent contradiction of the entire humane farming message.
Humane farming is ostensibly based on the idea that it is wrong to subject farmed animals to unnecessary harm; yet, killing animals we have no need to eat constitutes the ultimate act of unnecessary harm. Decades of scientific evidence have irrefutably demonstrated that humans have no biological need to consume meat, milk or eggs. This means that unlike animals who kill other animals for food, humans with access to plant-based foods have a choice. Animals who kill other animals for food do so from necessity, in order to survive; while many humans consume animals simply for pleasure — because they like the taste. But as is the case with any act of violence, there is a profound moral difference between killing from necessity and killing for pleasure. When we have plentiful access to plant-based foods, and a choice between sparing life or taking it — there is nothing remotely “humane” about inflicting violence and death on others just because we like the taste of their flesh and secretions.
So-called humane farmers maintain that an animal’s interest in not suffering matters because he is capable of suffering, and does not deserve to suffer unnecessarily (for trivial reasons). Yet these same people actively reject the fact that an animal’s interest in not dying matters for the same reasons: because he is capable of future existence, and does not deserve to die unnecessarily (for trivial reasons of profit and pleasure.) To accept that an animal’s interest in not being harmed matters is to accept that an animal’s interest in not being killed matters, because death is a form of harm; it is the ultimate form of harm beyond which there is no possible hope of recovery. Just as I suffer the loss of life even if painlessly poisoned in my sleep, and just as you have harmed me if you painlessly poison me, so do animals suffer the loss of future life, and so is death a harm to them, and to murder them for reasons of profit and pleasure is wrong for the same reasons that it is wrong to murder humans for profit and pleasure.
Whatever grounds we use to establish that an animal’s interest in not suffering matters morally, are the same grounds which make an animal’s interest in not dying matter morally; the two interests are inseparable, and if one interest counts morally then they both do. To oppose unnecessary harm and suffering for animals while demanding their unnecessary death is hypocritical and dishonest.
When it comes to giving thanks for the goodness and blessings in our lives, the most fitting way to demonstrate our gratitude would be to extend kindness and mercy to all beings, rather than to celebrate life by brutalizing individuals who also cherished living, and dearly wished to go on existing.
Here’s a good place to start for protein-packed, plant-based main dishes for Thanksgiving day or any day: Guide to Turkey Alternatives and Other Delicious Main Dish Ideas. There are also tons of delicious plant-based milks, cheeses, creams, butters and yogurts to help you eliminate dairy cruelty from your diet. Check out our Guide to Going Dairy Free, and don’t miss the section on incredible plant-based whipped creams to top your favorite Thanksgiving desserts!
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