Saddest Slaughterhouse Footage Ever Shows No Blood Or Slaughter


The above footage shows the experience of a cow who is waiting in line to die.

Here at Free from Harm, we work very hard to dismantle popular arguments in favor of eating animals. We link to scientific reports from major public health organizations all over the world confirming that humans have no biological need to consume animal products. We promote vegan athletes and bodybuilders. Our contributing vegan doctor thoroughly debunks the protein myth, and we expose the gross inaccuracy of the “canine teeth” argument (herbivores have some of the largest and most ferocious canine teeth on the planet!). Father Frank Mann explains why a vegan diet is the only consistent expression of his core religious values, and we introduce you to the most phenomenal vegan cheeses we have ever encountered (only 15 minutes and a few ingredients to prepare!) Finally, we get up close and personal with the truth about so-called humane farming, exploring the hidden practices and routine cruelties that are inherent to all animal farming. We show you why there’s no such thing as humane dairy, and why animal agriculture is the number one human-caused driver of global warming and environmental destruction.

We’re so grateful to be able to provide useful information from all of these perspectives. But not a single day goes by that we’re not wondering why, when it comes to the question of eating animals, people need anything more than the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you —

In the U.S. alone, we kill more than 9 billion land animals every year for flesh and secretions we have no need to consume. Globally, nearly 60 billion animals are slaughtered every year. It is impossible to fathom such numbers. But one by one by one by one, in a never-ending, brutal stream, every second of every day animals are peering through the slats of transport trucks, feeling the last sunlight of their lives (which is very possibly also the first); one by one, every second of every day, entering the kill chute of the slaughterhouse and walking those final steps, defenseless and innocent; one by one looking up at the last human face they will ever see— and no kindness, no mercy comes.

When we have access to nutritious plant-based foods, and understand that eating animals is not necessary to good health, then the choice to eat animals anyway demonstrates the desire to intentionally hurt others. No matter how much we may talk about kindness, no matter how much we may practice it elsewhere, as long as we demand that living, feeling individuals be harmed and killed for our pleasure — as long as we choose violence over compassion — then we do not live a good or just life. Far greater than the sum of our good acts is the trail of blood, suffering and death we willfully and needlessly leave behind us.
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Learn more about the impact of animal farming on animals, humans and the environment, here.

Learn more about living vegan, here.

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About Ashley Capps

Ashley Capps received an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first book of poems is Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields. The recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, she works as a writer, editor and researcher specializing in farmed animal welfare and vegan advocacy. Ashley has written for numerous animal rights organizations, and in addition to her ongoing work for Free from Harm, she is a writer and researcher at A Well-Fed World. For more information on her poetry or advocacy writing, please visit her website. She also runs the vegan facebook page Compassion Is Consistent.

85 comments

  1. That was awful; truly one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. It took everything I had to watch the entire footage; I was ready to bail after 26 secs. and that was nothing compared to the end. It makes me so angry; I’m glad I’m a vegan but I want to make everyone else a vegan as well. I get so angry over people and their “humane meat.” I feel so sad.

  2. this is outrageous, inhumane, poor animals, tear are flowing, GOD take care of these innocent animals

  3. watching the poor cows in line to be killed has made me cry for the rest of the day…still, I just cried, but I am still here, and alive…how must it have felt to be in line, to be a cow? We humans are so cruel!!!

  4. While i appreciate the message behind the storyline, the more unethical and cruel solution would be to let them all live and die from starvation because of over-population. I agree that there has to be a better alternative, but to base you sole platform on the “outrageous-ness” of this topic undermines the ability to find solutions to voerpopulation of animals across the globe. They would outnumber humans more than 10 to 1….THAT is a real problem if population control measures are not taken……

    • Jeremy, Overpopulation is not the problem. Breeding is the problem. Stop artificially breeding 56 to 60 billion farmed animals by the global animal industrial complex EVERY YEAR, and you have effectively solved any overpopulation issue. Most of these animals are chickens who are slaughtered as 6-week-old babies still chirping in adult-sized bodies. On the other hand overpopulation is a real problem in the human population. We are expected to bring 2 billion more non vegans into this plant by 2030. The current pace of consumption and global depletion of resources is entirely and disturbingly unsustainable. We must not blame the innocent victims of the problems we are entirely responsible for creating, in this case, the breeding of innocent animals who never asked to be brought into a cruel, commodified and human-dominated world and only so some can profit and others can get a palate pleasure from their slaughtered bodies. The system is morally bankrupt at its core.

    • The overpopulation of these animals is caused purely by humans. It is also easily reversible.

  5. As a chef and a meat-eater, I am able to watch this and be at peace with humans’ consumption of animals. Yes, it is sad, but all creatures must die, and shortening the lives of some in order to create new, incredible experiences for others has its own beauty. I do believe that needless torture and cruelty towards livestock is disgusting and wrong. These creatures demand our utmost respect and gratitude for the sacrifice they make for us. I also think it’s in very poor taste to turn such noble, gentle creatures into food that is tasteless and gross (i.e. Big Macs). Out of respect for the animal, I try and buy local beef and make it into an incredibly delicious dish. If alien overlords descended to the earth tomorrow and enslaved the human population to be used as food, and there was nothing we could do, poor, stupid creatures in comparison that we were, I’d do my best to accept my fate and hope that my body was used for an alien’s favorite meal of his life. The big fish eat the little ones. Such is nature.

    • Hi Mark, It’s easy to intellectualize about victimization until you are the actual victim. Then suddenly everything changes. Is slaughter made “humane” simply by doing it on a smaller scale, in your own backyard or under the pretext of “strengthening your local food system” as author Ali Berlow would have us believe in her new book the Mobile Poultry Slaughterhouse? How can slashing the throats of 6-week-old baby birds for profit and pleasure — not from necessity — be consistent with acting humanely? Especially when we have an abundance of cruelty-free alternatives?

      Why define what is “humane” against the worst case scenario of factory farming instead of the best case scenario: a world that can thrive on a plant-based diet and no longer needs to breed animals into existence for the purpose of enslaving, exploiting and slaughtering them, at all? How can we claim to value animals’ welfare during the short period of their lives we allow them to exist, yet so easily and violently dispose of their lives as if they held no value at all? What does it say about our culture when people from the world’s most affluent countries, still feel entitled enough to harm animals for their own pleasure, even after claiming to believe that animals count morally and should therefore be given moral consideration?

      Isn’t this notion of humane meat yet another example of Orwellian doublespeak? If you were bred into this world merely to be enslaved, exploited and slaughtered for completely unnecessary reasons, would you maintain that you had been humanely treated? In the words of Voltaire, “If we believe in absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.”

      On the notion of sacrifice you raise: Narratives and descriptions claiming that animals make sacrifices for us date back to our earliest recorded history and would have us believe that animals give their consent to be violently killed for a “greater good,” such as to provide us with sustenance or at the request of a higher power. However, to sacrifice oneself means to act freely, to make a conscious choice from a variety of circumstances.

      For example, upon seeing a woman being attacked on the street, I consider my options carefully. I could go and call the police or I could try to intervene and risk being harmed also. I decide that the latter is a sacrifice I am willing to make because I feel morally compelled to act urgently. Another example is the soldier who, out of loyalty to his country, claims he is willing to sacrifice his life in the line of duty. Even the most passive or symbolic sacrifice means that you consciously surrender, by choice, to another, perhaps to a loved one or to a higher power in the form of worship.

      Domesticated animals who are exploited as a resource are neither acting on their own free will, making a choice, or communicating their consent to us to be subjected to domination, enslavement or killing. Moreover, it is impossible to fairly describe such a situation as a sacrifice. What we do know for certain, based on observing their emotions and reactions, is that all animals have the same will to live that we have, as demonstrated by how tenaciously they fight for their own lives, for those of their immediate family and even for members of their extended social groups.

      Even for indigenous people, who live on subsistence hunting and gathering and who kill animals for food out of necessity, the necessary act of killing does not constitute a sacrifice. Author Sherry Colb describes this as “a ritual of denial,” a ritual intended to absolve the guilt one feels for having caused another sentient being harm. “[I]ndigenous people — like us — created ways of coping with their own violence against animals through rituals of denial. Some indigenous hunters have given thanks to animals for gifts the animals never consented to bestow…,” writes Colb. “We have consumed the flesh and secretions of animals in restaurants carrying the names and images of ecstatic, celebrating versions of those same animals painted on the entrance.” (1)

      Whether in the past or in the present, the notion that animals are willing to be harmed or killed as a sacrifice to us is, not only anthropomorphic, it is an irrational way of justifying harm that we know in our hearts is wrong.

      (1) “Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger? and Other Questions People Ask Vegans,” by Sherry Colb

      “Shortening their lives to make new incredible experiences for others?” You suggest a staged competition between us and farmed animals and you invoke Hiter’s credo of “Might Makes Right.” But I bet you condemn Michael Vick for his dogfighting activities. And yet you see nothing wrong with sitting around a barbecue eating the corpses of other animals who had worse lives than Vick’s dogs. You pay someone else to do what you would not do to animals, all the while making the most common justifications for continuing to support animal exploitation when it is no longer necessary. In the end, you really don’t take the interests of animals at all seriously since you are willing to have them killed just to satisfy your trivial gustatory pleasures. Why not just admit that instead of invoking all of these justifications that do nothing to defend unnecessary violence and taking of lives.

      • Hello Staff Writers,

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I will do my best to answer your questions as honestly as possible.

        First of all, my wife is an ethical vegan, so I’m quite familiar with the arguments and appeals vegans typically make. However, I like the way you expressed yourself in this post. I’m afraid my reply will be nowhere near as eloquent or concise.

        You write:
        “Is slaughter made “humane” simply by doing it on a smaller scale, in your own backyard or under the pretext of “strengthening your local food system” “?

        No. Certain forms of slaughter I find to be inhumane, such as procedures that might skin an animal alive before killing it. Recently, I was surf fishing on the beach at night, and caught a catfish. My friend and I wanted to use it as bait for a shark. What you need for shark bait is really just the tail, so you cut that part off. However, I hate the idea of cutting off some part of an animal and leaving it to suffer, so I cut off its head very quickly. It’s quite similar to the way in which the guillotine was invented to be a more humane way of executing prisoners. “Humaneness”, when it comes to slaughter, is relative. Whatever method can cause the animal the least amount of suffering is the most humane.

        You write:
        “How can we claim to value animals’ welfare during the short period of their lives we allow them to exist, yet so easily and violently dispose of their lives as if they held no value at all?”

        This simply runs counter to all my feelings when it comes to using animals as food. When I prepare an animal for the dinner table, I feel that the animal’s life had great value. Part of the value of its life is to enrich the lives of others now. I simply can’t see how to equate eating an animal with saying the animal was worthless. Unfortunately, I do think many in our culture probably do feel animals are pretty worthless, and don’t feel the same kind of gratitude and respect towards the creatures we regularly consume.

        You write:
        “If you were bred into this world merely to be enslaved, exploited and slaughtered for completely unnecessary reasons, would you maintain that you had been humanely treated?”

        No. Exploitation of animals is not humane. But if I were bred into this world to be slaughtered for food, and I had no idea that was what I was here for, and I didn’t even realize I was going to slaughter until maybe a couple of minutes before, I was slaughtered quickly and relatively painlessly, and my life until then had been normal and sociable and contented, then I would say that is relatively humane treatment.

        You write…
        “However, to sacrifice oneself means to act freely, to make a conscious choice from a variety of circumstances.”

        I cannot accept your definition of sacrifice. I believe you have conflated “sacrificing oneself” with sacrifice in general. For example, the ancient Aztecs sacrificed young women, doubtlessly against their will at times. If a woman were to resist their knife, she would still be a “sacrifice”. Animals can make a sacrifice even if they do not choose to do so. This only means they do not sacrifice themselves. Sacrifice means to give something up for some perceived good.

        You write:
        “Whether in the past or in the present, the notion that animals are willing to be harmed or killed as a sacrifice to us is, not only anthropomorphic, it is an irrational way of justifying harm that we know in our hearts is wrong.”

        I would never make the claim that animals are willing to be harmed or killed as a sacrifice to us. If given the option, I’m sure they would chose to not be eaten, at least until they died of natural causes.

        You write:
        “You suggest a staged competition between us and farmed animals and you invoke Hiter’s credo of “Might Makes Right.”

        I’d be grateful if you didn’t claim that I was invoking Hitler.

        No, I don’t believe “might makes right”. I am not entirely certain of which moral theory I subscribe to at this time, though I don’t believe actions are justified simply because one has power over another. I am probably somewhere in between Utilitarianism and Kantian morality, with a dash of subjectivism, with Utilitarianism being a bigger favorite. For me, as a chef, and a lover of nature, I believe the eating of animals, if done so as to minimize harm, can be for the greater good of the world. But I also believe strongly that an individual’s choice of what to eat is their own to make, and would never stand in judgement over anyone’s decision to eat or to not eat anything. If veganism is what fits best with your beliefs, then by all means, be vegan! My wife certainly is, and I don’t even begrudge her in the slightest bit for it. I eat vegan at home and out at restaurants a lot with her, which means I have to save meat for special occasions, which is fine with me. It only helps me appreciate it that much more.

        You write:
        “And yet you see nothing wrong with sitting around a barbecue eating the corpses of other animals who had worse lives than Vick’s dogs.”

        No. I do indeed see something wrong with abusing animals and causing them superfluous pain. I support animals having a happy life and then being slaughtered as quickly as possible. That’s how I do it when I take an animal’s life, such as when I’m fishing. I’ve seen fishermen who filet the fish while they’re alive and I hate that. I cut off their heads quickly. And I am so thankful for the food the fish provides to me.

        “You pay someone else to do what you would not do to animals”

        No. I have done it and would do it again. I know you think I’m a sadist now. :)

        Never slaughtered a cow, though, because I don’t work on a farm. If I could afford to and had the time (and my wife would let me, FAT CHANCE), I’d keep a cow and slaughter it. I am pretty proficient at butchery and I enjoy it.

        “In the end, you really don’t take the interests of animals at all seriously since you are willing to have them killed just to satisfy your trivial gustatory pleasures.”

        My gustatory pleasures are not trivial! :)

        Seriously, though, I prepare fine four course dinners for private clients and the meals are pretty far from trivial. I also happen to be a good vegan chef as well. I love vegan food, I view it as another type of cuisine, and I love the challenges it presents. I’ve had vegan foodies over for dinner that loved my vegan food.

        In the end, I agree with you that the eating of animals is not necessary for human survival, and is really not optimal for human health unless eaten in much smaller quantities than in the normal western diet. But it brings me and those I cook for a great deal of joy, and I suppose that makes me morally repugnant to you. Oh well, can’t please them all.

        • Hi Mark,

          You say you don’t want to see animals unnecessarily harmed and yet you don’t find it morally objectionable to harm someone for taste only, where 99% of our harm to animals is committed. You say that the harm is minimal because the animal does not know that he is being killed until a few minutes before his death, but not knowing about your death would in no way make the murder of a human being less of a transgression. Our criminal justice system would not ease the punishmnent for the crime in such cases. Yet, ff all the rationalizations we make for eating animals in an age when eating animals is not at all necessary for our survival or health, many people today are borrowing a popular slogan I call “the personal choice defense.” It goes something like this: “My decision to eat animals is a personal choice.” And it is usually followed by a statement sympathetic to their vegan and vegetarian friends, acknowledging that they too are making personal choices that are right for them. Yet, upon closer examination, the choice to eat animals, whether it is once a week or every day, is never a personal choice. Eating animal products is indeed exercising a choice, but it is neither personal nor necessary. Here are five key reasons why:

          1. Eating is a communal, multi-cultural activity until the vegan sits down at the table
          First, let’s take a closer look at what personal means in the context of the highly social human activity of eating. Personal food choices had never been discussed at the dinner table until a growing number of vegans and vegetarians — by their very presence at the table — question the legitimacy of eating animals. A person who tells you that their eating of animal products is a personal choice is really telling you “stay away.” They don’t want you to question their highly-coveted moral beliefs or perhaps they object to exposing their unexamined moral quandary over how one can justify using and killing animals for food in an age when it is completely unnecessary. In other words, they have made this issue personal precisely in response to you making it public.

          2. There is no free choice without awareness
          The irony is that while non vegans defend their choice to eat animal products as a personal one, they will nonetheless go to great lengths to defend it publicly when confronted with a vegan or vegetarian. Like some apologetic white liberals who defend themselves by defiantly exclaiming to a new black acquaintance, “But I have black friends too!”, some will painstakingly explain how intimately they understand veganism — after all, they have already heard and evaluated the vegan friends’ reasons for going vegan and they deeply respect those reasons.

          They’ve carefully considered being vegan themselves, they will assure you, and have concluded that it’s just not for them. But instead of arriving at some novel new understanding of why humans should eat animal products in an age of industrialized slaughter, they simply revert back to the traditional arguments that are all pretty much centered around what social psychologist Melanie Joy calls the three N’s of justification: eating animal products is normal, natural and necessary. (1) But their reasoning reveals the fact that they have sorely overlooked the big idea behind veganism which author Jenny Brown points out so eloquently in her book The Lucky Ones: “We can become prisoners of our earliest indoctrinations or we can choose to look critically at our assumptions and align our lives with our values. Choosing to live vegan is how we’re able to do that best.” (2)

          3. The choice has a victim and the victim is completely ignored
          Let’s take a look at the issue from the animal victim’s perspective, which has been completely denied by the non vegan’s unexamined assumption that animals have no interest or understanding of the value of their individual lives. Does the animal who is being bred, raised and slaughtered for someone’s food care if the person who is eating animals has given the prospect of becoming vegan any serious moral consideration? Of course not.

          The notion that these conscious omnivores think they have done their due diligence by examining the pros and cons of eating animals means nothing for those that value their lives as we do. The fact is the animals we raise for meat have at least as much of an interest in staying alive, avoiding pain and suffering and seeking pleasure as these meat eaters’ pets. As activist Twyla Francois so aptly puts it: “All animals have the same capacity for suffering, but how we see them differs and that determines what we’ll tolerate happening to them. In the western world, we feel it wrong to torture and eat cats and dogs, but perfectly acceptable to do the same to animals equally as sentient and capable of suffering. No being who prides himself on rationality can continue to support such behaviour.”

          4. Many personal choices we make have dire consequence for ourselves and others
          Now let’s take a closer look at the meaning of choice itself. The act of making a choice implies that the actor has free will and awareness of the options and their consequences. In the spirit of justice, we live in a society where our actions and choices are governed by what society deems acceptable. We can make a personal choice to maim, rape or kill someone, but these actions will have consequences that serve as a deterrent. It is generally accepted in a democratic society that we are free to do what we want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else or infringe on the same rights and freedoms of others.

          Yet, for the non vegan, the choice of eating animals is completely disconnected from this concept of justice since justice does not, in their eyes, apply to other species, only to humans (how convenient). In other words, there are no visible, negative consequences to eating animal products. The victims remain invisible and silent to those who eat them, and that is perhaps the greatest deception of all.

          5. Atrocities are never personal
          In reality, the choice to eat animal products negates the very meaning of choice because the animal that had to be killed to procure the product had no choice in the matter at all. And the notion of characterizing such a choice as a personal one is even more problematic since the choice required the taking of another’s life, not a personal sacrifice. Nothing could be more public than the taking of a sentient life who cares about his own life, particularly when that act is neither necessary nor therefore morally defensible.

          When 60 billion land animals and another approximate 60 billion marine animals are killed every year across the planet for a single species’ “personal” food choices based on palate pleasure alone, eating animal products ceases to be a matter of personal choice; (4) it becomes a social justice movement to protect the rights of animals. To deny animals the right to live their lives according to their own interests is wrong and to attempt to defend our choice to eat them as a personal one is delusional.

          (1) Melanie Joy, “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism,” (San Francisco: Conari Press, 2010) 96–98, 105–122

          (2) Jenny Brown, “The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals” (London: The Penguin Group, 2012) 204

          (3) Twyla Francois is the Director of investigations, Mercy For Animals Canada

          (4) This article does not intend to cover the human health and environmental impacts associated with eating animal products, though these impacts are clearly enormous as well.

          – See more at: http://freefromharm.org/animal-products-and-psychology/five-reasons-why-meat-eating-cannot-be-considered-a-personal-choice/#sthash.0sV77lTA.dpuf

          • Hi Mark,

            I would agree that, in many cases, morality is a personal matter. The choice of faith or secular belief is one’s personal business. In fact, any belief or action that does not deny others their basic freedoms is generally respected as a personal one. A personal belief does not harm others, at least directly. That’s what makes it personal. However, when it comes to eating animals, there are no neutral actions. We have only two options: either 1. we eat animal products and are directly responsible for sending animals to the slaughterhouse or 2. we don’t eat animal products and thus spare animals a slaughterhouse end. There are no gray choices in between these two actions that could render a less definitive outcome.

            In other words, there is no moral gray area between life and death, slavery and freedom, violence and nonviolence, killing and not killing. We’ve already applied this moral certainty to our own kind. At least in principle, we do not argue that slavery, rape, or murder is justifiable for some races, but not for others. We believe, in principle, that certain rights and freedoms apply to all humans, because we all have an interest in not being enslaved, raped, or murdered.

            So on what grounds do some people think it is okay to abandon this fundamental moral principle when the victim belongs to another species? Why do these people maintain that a sentient being is not worthy of the same protection from slavery, rape, gratuitous violence, and killing simply because he is a member of a nonhuman species? If we say we believe in justice for all, why don’t we extend that principle of universal justice, fairness, and equal consideration to all sentient beings?

            These are questions that we must raise, repeatedly, when confronted with the moral relativist position that seeks to dismiss the idea that animals count morally. Those who argue that this is a matter of personal belief deny animals a voice in the public discourse and sabotage any attempt to accord them justice. This tactic has been used by opponents of all other social justice movements. It is self-serving, irresponsible, flimsy, and cowardly.

            To be fair, some of the moral relativism surrounding this discussion is based on a misunderstanding of sentience. According to scientists, a sentient being has subjective awareness, a sense of self-worth, and an interest in avoiding pain and death — in staying alive. Under that definition, animals in our food system (as well as many other animals exploited for other reasons) are clearly sentient. Thus, there is no escaping the fact that our moral treatment of these animals cannot be based on mere opinions, cultural mores, or personal beliefs and choices.

            This misunderstanding of sentience shows itself when people ask us questions like, Where do you draw the line? Do insects have an interest in not being killed? How about plants? Do they care if they are killed? Actually, what these questions imply is that the intelligence (as defined by humans) of a species determines our moral obligations to its members. But we need to remember that the issue is not intelligence, it is sentience. This is where we ought to draw the line — at sentience. And the sentience of the animals we exploit for our food is highly developed and irrefutable.

            If you want to help animals, start by defending their interests when others would seek to dismiss them on the basis of moral relativism. Ask the hard questions. Get others thinking about the disparities between how we apply basic moral principles to humans and to animals. If we let this one slide, we’re turning our backs on animals in a big way.

            – See more at: http://freefromharm.org/animal-products-and-ethics/when-moral-relativism-becomes-a-justification-to-exploit-animals/#sthash.PogSiMib.dpuf

          • Dear Staff Writers,

            You have outdone yourselves! Fantastic replies, and quite possibly beyond the scope of my abilities to rationally dispute them. But, maybe just a challenge to myself, I’m going to try. I’ll begin with the first reply, and may not get to the others until much later.

            You write:
            “You say you don’t want to see animals unnecessarily harmed and yet you don’t find it morally objectionable to harm someone for taste only, where 99% of our harm to animals is committed.”

            I wonder where this figure came from. It seems to me that there is probably a great deal more than 1% of overall harm that occurs during the lives of animals in the factory farming system we have in place today. For some of these animals, life may actually be so bad that death comes as quite the relief.

            “You say that the harm is minimal because the animal does not know that he is being killed until a few minutes before his death, but not knowing about your death would in no way make the murder of a human being less of a transgression. Our criminal justice system would not ease the punishmnent for the crime in such cases.”

            I do think that ignorance of one’s death could minimize the suffering associated with it. Don’t you? Would you rather be living under the shadow of knowing you were going to slaughter, or living a normal life in the meantime? As to the criminal justice system’s treatment of murder, it would help to bear in mind the specific scenario I’ve been using here. The scenario is that advanced alien overlords descend to earth to take over the world and breed humans for use as food. The criminal justice system is useless in the face of such a threat. It would be like a gaggle of chickens attempting to hold counsel to determine what legal action to take against the humans. Not the most effective course of action.

            You write:
            “all the rationalizations we make for eating animals in an age when eating animals is not at all necessary for our survival or health,”

            I agree, not necessary.

            You write:
            “it is usually followed by a statement sympathetic to their vegan and vegetarian friends”

            The implication here seems to be that this is akin to racists talking about their black friends. I can assure you that, whatever the appearances might be, I do in fact have a vegan wife, who has dozens of vegan friends that I am also friends with, so I’m a bit of a special case. I seriously doubt that most carnivores have more than a couple of vegan friends.

            You write:
            “Eating is a communal, multi-cultural activity until the vegan sits down at the table”

            This statement of fact is meant to support your position that eating animals products is not a personal moral decision. I can’t see how it possibly could. If eating animal products is not a personal moral decision, then the morality of food choices is ethically normative. But whether or not an activity is done alone, in private, or in the presence of fellow humans has no bearing on its moral status as a normative or a personal moral decision. Let’s look at an example. In ancient Rome, many Romans would gather at the Coliseum to watch gladiators kill prisoners. Most people would agree that it was wrong for the Romans to watch and get pleasure out of seeing a fellow human being slaughtered for sport. But we don’t invoke normative ethics in this case because people went there en masse. It would be equally as wrong for a rich Roman to hold a private gladiator session at which he was the sole spectator. This reasoning applies across the board to all questions of morality. The communality of a tradition has no bearing on whether or not the tradition is morally acceptable.

            You write:
            “They don’t want you to question their highly-coveted moral beliefs or perhaps they object to exposing their unexamined moral quandary over how one can justify using and killing animals for food in an age when it is completely unnecessary.”

            As you can see, I welcome being questioned, and I also enjoy examining my own morals! I don’t fit your stereotype.

            You write:
            “There is no free choice without awareness”

            Much of what followed did not directly relate to bullet point #2. You elaborated on the supposed failure of meat-eaters to question their beliefs, which is kind of related I guess. Like I said, I welcome critical examination of my beliefs. However, I don’t really have beliefs in the traditional sense. I’ve questioned my own “beliefs” so many times that I don’t really believe in beliefs anymore. Instead, I view my system of thought as reason based on probability of truth. I believe truth is real, and objective, but inherently unknowable in an absolute sense. Therefore what I claim as my belief is my best guess, and some claims I feel are more likely to be true than others. So any beliefs I have relating to the ethics of food choices are best guesses.

            You write:
            “the non vegan’s unexamined assumption that animals have no interest or understanding of the value of their individual lives.”

            I don’t make that assumption. Certainly animals are not capable of the same level of abstract reason that humans are, and cannot form moral theories about the ethics of eating. But in an evolutionary capacity, animals definitely value their lives to the extent that they seek to preserve them and avoid death and pain.

            “In the western world, we feel it wrong to torture and eat cats and dogs, but perfectly acceptable to do the same to animals equally as sentient and capable of suffering. No being who prides himself on rationality can continue to support such behaviour.”

            I find this question interesting. Why do we not wish to eat cats and dogs in the Western world? The answer is that it reflects our cultural bias. We maintain special relationships with cats and dogs, and we find them especially cute. Cuteness is actually an important influence over human behavior. It helps us to feel motivated to protect our babies. Other cultures, such as the Cantonese, do not share our cultural bias to as great of an extent. They’ll just freaking eat a dog no questions asked. Personally, I love dogs so much I probably couldn’t eat them, but while I love and have owned cats, I might try cat if it wasn’t illegal to do so.

            You write:
            “Yet, for the non vegan, the choice of eating animals is completely disconnected from this concept of justice since justice does not, in their eyes, apply to other species, only to humans (how convenient). In other words, there are no visible, negative consequences to eating animal products.”

            I believe it is possible to treat an animal unjustly. Factory farm workers have been filmed abusing animals. Cutting the beaks off chickens is cruel. I don’t support techniques like that. I don’t serve Tyson chicken to my clients, because I don’t support the techniques used to farm those chickens, and it doesn’t taste good anyway.

            You write:
            “In reality, the choice to eat animal products negates the very meaning of choice because the animal that had to be killed to procure the product had no choice in the matter at all. And the notion of characterizing such a choice as a personal one is even more problematic since the choice required the taking of another’s life, not a personal sacrifice. Nothing could be more public than the taking of a sentient life who cares about his own life, particularly when that act is neither necessary nor therefore morally defensible.”

            Here we come to the “meat” of your argument. (Or should that be meat-free alternative?) I agree that the animal has no choice in the matter. Neither do animals have a choice whether or not to be eaten when they are consumed by their natural predators in their environment. But humans are in a unique position because we are able to rationalize and moralize about our decisions, whereas animals act according to their instincts. I believe that this ability to rationalize creates a kind of veneer between our mental states and nature as it naturally operates. We no longer operate according to instinct, we insert mental processes in between ourselves and our actions. No two individuals can be expected to have the exact same mental processes, which is where moral subjectivity finds support as a natural theory. It should be assumed that a moral stance that is consistent and well-considered is acceptable unless very good reasons can be given to show that it is not. Unfortunately, you have failed to do so. One of the few arguments you advanced against the acceptability of eating animals, that it is a normative moral choice made so by the communality of eating, was demonstrated to be incorrect. Any ad hominem-flavored attempts to describe ethical meat-eating as “delusional” are only going to weaken your cause when you have failed to provide a rational basis for normative veganism. But as I have previously insisted, you are well within rights and reason to choose veganism for yourself. Just don’t expect a few incoherent arguments to win over rational, ethical meat-eaters.

          • Mark, I don’t think the onus is on me or any other vegan, as you suggest, to prove that veganism is a good or just choice for respecting the animal’s sovereignty. The burden of proof, in my mind, is on those who choose to do harm to others who are clearly at our mercy, when they could choose otherwise. With all of the moral acrobatics you have displayed here thus far, you still can’t seem to explain to me why species is a valid reason to exploit or discriminate against someone, simply because he or she is a member of another species, when in fact, we categorically oppose the same based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation. You defend the right of the slaughterhouse worker to kill the animal in the video. And then you claim you care about the welfare of animals. You are clearly a very confused person who has much soul searching to do. I don’t think that’s an ad hominem, just an observation. Your ideas are not unique, I’m afraid. You’ve used just about every major carnistic defense in the book, ones we hear repeatedly from your side of the aisle. I wish I could say that you’re ideas are truly unique. It would give me great hope that such a chilling apathy is not “normative,” to use your expression.

            Lastly I think your distinction between animal instinct versus human reasoning reveals your lack of understanding about animal minds and behavior. The study of animal behavior and personal observation tell us a very different story and evolutionary biology, from the time of Darwin on, shows us how much we share, rather than differ from other species. As I sit here and write this, one of my hens who is having health problems is being doted upon by another who cares for her well-being very deeply and demonstrates this regularly and unmistakably. If this is not the domain of moral behavior, I don’t know what is. Do we ignore this or deny it and claim that only humans possess moral behavior? Perhaps it is the human betrayal of morality, that ability to deny others their identity and render them as “inferiors,” which then erroneously permits us to do whatever we want to them, that is the human attribute more contemptable than whatever we claim is lacking in nonhuman animals.

        • Hi Mark, Here is my “Reader’s Digest” version of the 12 reasons why I don’t believe in the paradox of “humane” slaughter:

          The emergence of so-called “humane slaughter” indicates a growing awareness and concern for animal suffering — that society is finally acknowledging and taking seriously the fact that animals really do have the capacity to suffer. This in itself is quite a breakthrough in human understanding, considering that we have largely denied the reality of their suffering for centuries. This new awareness should also serve as a clear sign that people do care, contrary to the popular idea that “people just don’t care about animals so we should not expect them to change.” In fact, neurobiological research is finding that empathy is “hardwired” into our DNA.

          More specifically, heightened interest in humane slaughter indicates an awareness of how our food choices directly connect to animal suffering. And it raises the fundamental moral question: What is our moral obligation to animals? I see humane slaughter as an attempt to address and even fulfill our moral obligation to animals (which I would argue is long overdue). And yet humane slaughter falls very short of meeting that obligation for the following 12 reasons:

          Humane slaughter assumes that animals do not possess an interest in staying alive. In other words, the assumption is that animals are not conscious or intelligent enough to understand the value of their own lives. Therefore, to the proponents of humane slaughter, our moral obligation to animals is simply to minimize the pain and suffering associated with ending their lives. The best empirical research as well as simple observation, however, attests that the opposite is true. Indeed, animals will fight for their lives and for the lives of their offspring, and even for the lives of members of their extended social group, as vociferously as we would fight for our own lives.

          Humane slaughter uses the practices of factory farming and industrial slaughterhouses as a moral baseline, that is, the most egregious forms of animal exploitation imaginable. By measuring against the “worst case scenario,” anything looks better. In this case better does not necessarily mean “humane.” Far from it. Why measure against the worst case scenario? If those in the business of humane animal agriculture had a genuine interest in understanding what is “humane,” they would be measuring the Webster dictionary definition of “humane” against what we know about animal consciousness as a means to better determine the circumstances that would truly constitute a humane animal-human relationship. But such an analysis would render the very commodification of animals itself as “inhumane” since commercial farming requires that even the most basic animal interests must be denied. (1)

          The intention of artificially breeding an animal into existence for the sole purpose of raising him to market weight to then slaughter him in his infancy or adolescence and profit from products procured from his flesh or bodily secretions (that we do not require for health) (2), in no way constitutes a humane intention, let alone a humane act.

          It could be argued that humane slaughter and its advocates represent an even greater betrayal to animals than industrial animal agriculture. The former takes the time to develop a caring and trusting relationship with the animal, treating that animal with kindness and respect, sometimes even naming the animal (an acknowledgment of his individual identity). The animal often responds in kind, bonding with his human owner and even perhaps becoming affectionate. Subjecting that animal to a violent end for nothing more than a cheaply-priced commodity is the ultimate betrayal — a betrayal not just to the animal but also to our sense of fairness and respect for others.

          Humane slaughter is an oxymoron that can only be explained by the dominant culture’s belief in what social psychologist Melanie Joy calls carnism. Joy maintains that when we see the world through the lens of carnism, we view eating animals as a “given” and when confronted with a view critical of carnism, we seek to justify eating animals as normal, natural and necessary. (3) Humane slaughter therefore fails to question our most basic assumptions about animals and food — assumptions we inherited from previous generations rather than beliefs based on an evaluation of the true and current consequences of our food choices. Food choices based on these assumptions are not “free” According to Joy,”There is no free choice without awareness.” (3)

          Humane slaughter is inconsistent with the widely-accepted principle of “equal consideration of interests” introduced by bioethics philosopher Peter Singer in Practical Ethics, who asserts that one should include all affected interests when calculating the rightness of an action and weigh those interests equally. (4) While animals may think and behave quite differently in many ways than we do, the only relevant consideration in terms of humane slaughter is that we suffer as equals. Suffering, not human-like intelligence, is the criteria by which we should determine how we treat animals. Singer’s principle would therefore suggest that both humans and non human animals be treated equally with respect to end of life issues.

          Humane slaughter mistakenly invokes the entrenched belief that killing and eating animals is necessary for our health and survival, yet it is a well-established scientific fact that humans are not carnivorous and that only carnivores require flesh for health and survival. The vast majority of us consume animal products for reasons of pleasure, habit and tradition. Invoking tradition as a justification for eating animal products is problematic since all forms of exploitation have a historical precedence including slavery, cannibalism and torture. We categorically reject the argument for tradition when humans are the victims of exploitation and should therefore apply the same principle to animals who suffer as we do.

          Humane slaughter implies that animals simply exist to be our resource, assuming an unquestioned belief in dominionism. Again, the best science we have reveals that animals have a complex set of interests that do not include a desire to be human property.

          Humane slaughter ignores the animal’s point of view and instead uses anthropomorphic claims to make conclusions about how animals suffer or do not suffer under certain conditions and then asserts them as “facts.” Humane slaughter is often based on a pseudo-scientific understanding of animal psychology and physiology specific to pain and suffering. Since the study of psychological and physical pain in humans is still in its infancy, it is even more erroneous to make absolute and simplistic claims about the minds of other animals — particularly those that we conveniently want to use as resources — with little or no empirical evidence to support those claims.

          The alleged humane forms of slaughter are no less violent and cruel. On the contrary, some are even more barbaric than those they seek to reform. For instance, the most humane way of killing a pig or calf is either a shot to the head or a jolt of electrocution typically administered through the rectum. For chickens, the kill cone method of slaughter, touted as humane in the documentary Food Inc., is considered a standard in humane poultry. In the kill cone method, the fully-conscious bird is stuffed down a long funnel. His neck is pulled through the narrow opening at the bottom. His throat is slit as he wriggles and screams in terror and bleeds to death. Birds have been known to remain conscious for up to 8 minutes after their necks are cut.

          It is important to realize that humane slaughter is a profit-driven industry just like its conventional counterparts. Efficiently turning animals into commodities is the business model of animal agriculture, regardless of how they market their product. There is an inherent conflict of interest built into this business model that places profits over animal interests. The incentive to treat animals “humanely” is limited to the extent to which it is necessary to raise that animal to market weight (which is just a fraction of the animal’s natural lifespan). Any humane practice beyond this would be seen by farmers as a “waste,” that is, an unnecessary expense that cuts into profit.

          Slaughter, humane or not, has implications beyond the suffering of animals. Numerous studies of slaughterhouse workers have demonstrated striking links between animal and human violence. Yale University author Timothy Pachirat provides a compelling, in-depth analysis of the psychological dynamics of working in a slaughterhouse in his recent book, Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight. Colleen Patrick Goudreau and professor / journalist James McWilliams provide a very thought-provoking analysis of socially-sanctioned violence and the implications it has for workers and society at large. Based on such works, it may not be the high-profile, egregious acts of cruelty but the everyday, “normal” practices of slaughterhouses that are most disturbing.

          (1) Ashley Capps, A Comprehensive Analysis of the Humane Farming Myth

          (2) American Dietetic Association‘s official position on vegan and vegetarian diets

          (3) Melanie Joy, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism

          (4) Singer’s principle essentially states that where animals have an equal characteristic to humans—such as the ability to feel—one must provide for an equal consideration of interests, but in areas where a species does not have an equal characteristic to humans — such as the interest of some gay couples to legally marry — the principle does not apply.

          – See more at: http://freefromharm.org/animal-products-and-ethics/12-reasons-why-i-dont-believe-in-humane-slaughter/#sthash.eTBPZJVK.dpuf

        • Mark,

          It was very painful to read your opening sentence: “As a chef and a meat-eater, I am able to watch this and be at peace with humans’ consumption of animals.”

          It’s hard for me to imagine a more callous response to the needless suffering of another fellow feeling creature. That anyone could watch what the cow in this video went through and write that they feel “at peace” with it feels, frankly, sociopathic. You then write:

          “Yes, it is sad, but all creatures must die, and shortening the lives of some in order to create new, incredible experiences for others has its own beauty.” So basically since everyone dies, we’re morally justified to inflict needless violence and death on others if we get pleasure from it? That’s self-serving nonsense.

          You’ve just written that it’s not wrong to harm and kill others for pleasure, then you write: “No, I don’t believe “might makes right”. I am not entirely certain of which moral theory I subscribe to at this time, though I don’t believe actions are justified simply because one has power over another. I am probably somewhere in between Utilitarianism and Kantian morality, with a dash of subjectivism, with Utilitarianism being a bigger favorite.”

          Actually the philosophy you clearly subscribe to is called ethical egoism, the idea that self interest is the only determining factor in whether or not an action is wrong. It is based on the naturalistic fallacy (which you use to defend your position over and over again) and it manifests in the Might Makes Right worldview which you do in fact endorse here. You endorse, and practice, harming animals for pleasure. You believe that it is ethical to intentionally harm animals for mere palate pleasure. You can’t then say that it’s wrong to willfully harm animals for pleasure in some instances, but not in others. Or, rather, you can, but the cavalier and capriciously inconsistent application of the moral principle renders your position completely meaningless.

          Finally, in your thought experiment about aliens, you write:

          “If alien overlords descended to the earth tomorrow and enslaved the human population to be used as food, and there was nothing we could do, poor, stupid creatures in comparison that we were, I’d do my best to accept my fate and hope that my body was used for an alien’s favorite meal of his life.” I find this utterly disingenuous. No, Mark, if you were forced to walk into a slaughterhouse and knew your killers were rational creatures who had a choice about whether or not to kill you — actually even if you didn’t know that at all — I can assure you would not meekly offer yourself up in sacrifice to their cruelty; you would, like the cow in the video whose life and suffering you so callously dismiss, fight till your last breath, and you would beg, sir, for the mercy you so flippantly deny to others. You would beg for it.

          • Hello Ashley,

            Thanks for the reply. I enjoy discussions like these. I like the challenge that those with differing views are able to offer.

            I find it fascinating how someone could think me a sociopath. If society embarked on a trend towards thinking like zealous vegans, true sociopaths would probably rejoice at the knowledge that the label they have been stuck with is being watered down so carelessly. You write,

            “So basically since everyone dies, we’re morally justified to inflict needless violence and death on others if we get pleasure from it?”

            I haven’t actually attempted to put forward much of a justification for meat-eating thus far. I have only attempted to show that eating meat is ordinary, which it clearly is for us and many other animals. Certainly at this point in human development veganism is the more extra-ordinary diet. I haven’t justified meat-eating because I don’t believe anyone should have to justify their eating habits. I don’t believe you have to justify your veganism. I’ve only maintained my interest in responding because you are the ones making the much, much stronger claim that it is morally wrong to choose to eat animals, not just for yourselves, but for all humans. The quote you cited was not any attempt at a rational justification for meat-eating whatsoever, but rather was meant to provide insight into why this chef prepares and serves meat for his dinners.

            “actually the philosophy you clearly subscribe to is called ethical egoism”

            This is the most facepalm inducing straw man I have ever read. I come very close to despising ethical egoism. Rand is one of my least favorite moral philosophers in the world. This would be akin to me saying the philosophy you subscribe to is fundamentalist Christianity and just thinking it’s all well and good. No, I’m far more interested in Utilitarianism as a moral philosophy, it seems the most intuitively rational of the bunch. I’m attempting to maximize good for humans and minimize bodily harm to animals (though not, ultimately, death, although I try to eat meat only on special occasions) through my actions.

            “You can’t then say that it’s wrong to willfully harm animals for pleasure in some instances, but not in others.”

            I don’t believe death is necessarily significant harm. If I were dying a protracted death from some horrible wasting cancer, I might envy the fate of the cow in the video. I think, though, that you’ve finally forced me to state what I believe the only real justification for killing animals that exists is. I’m sure you’re gonna just hate it, and you’ve heard it so many times before, you’re gonna bash your head into that computer screen. Animals just don’t have the right to life, since they are unable to willingly give their consent to participate in a social contract. I’m sure you likely believe that their sentience alone grants them protection.

            “No, Mark, if you were forced to walk into a slaughterhouse and knew your killers were rational creatures who had a choice about whether or not to kill you — actually even if you didn’t know that at all — I can assure you would not meekly offer yourself up in sacrifice to their cruelty; you would, like the cow in the video whose life and suffering you so callously dismiss, fight till your last breath, and you would beg, sir, for the mercy you so flippantly deny to others. You would beg for it.”

            I only said I would do my best to accept my fate, if it really was inevitable. I didn’t say I would willfully “offer myself up”. I accept right now, at this moment, that I am going to die one day. I could even be murdered. I no longer fear death after wrestling with my mortality for over a decade. In fact, I very much look forward to it, for complicated reasons. If there was nothing I could do to stop the alien overlords from slaughtering me, I’d try to calm my nerves and prepare myself for whatever may or may not come after. Death is a part of every life. And when I died, since I would already be dead, I would hope that my body could be used to provide a wonderful meal for the creature who would eat me.

            Yes, I’m a little weird. :)

        • “But it brings me and those I cook for a great deal of joy, and I suppose that makes me morally repugnant to you.”

          “Saying eating animals is “yummy” as a justification for killing them is pretty much the same argument as saying rape is okay since it feels good to the rapist. Civilized people require more than sensory pleasure to justify behaviors.”

          • “Saying eating animals is “yummy” as a justification for killing them is pretty much the same argument as saying rape is okay since it feels good to the rapist.”

            The deliciousness of meat is not my attempt to give a justification for killing animals. It’s merely one of the biggest reasons I serve meat and occasionally eat it, and not the reason it is morally acceptable to do so.

          • “The deliciousness of meat is not my attempt to give a justification for killing animals. It’s merely one of the biggest reasons I serve meat and occasionally eat it, and not the reason it is morally acceptable to do so.”

            Mark, you are falsely separating your consumption of flesh with the death of the one you are eating. it is not possible to consume flesh without killing another being so the act of killing and eating someone is inexorabley connected.

          • Perfectly put. It is beyond me how somebody cannot see the simplicity of this statement, make the connection and will continuously strive to argue against it. As far as the extreme language that has been mentioned in this discussion, how else is one to speak? To deliberately kill something against it’s will is surely murder? There aren’t too many other words that fit. However ‘extreme’ that language may seem it’s just a fact.

    • Mark, I also want to address your claim that your harm to animals is somehow more ethical because the food you prepare is “delicious” and “fine dining.” That’s preposterous. One of the things I find most repellent about foodies is their treatment of the rarified culinary experience as an inherent good in and of itself that transcends the ethical, as though the choices made in pursuit of “fine dining” and haute cuisine do not participate in a moral realm: the fetishizing of the sensual over the ethical. If foodies could take off their roast colored glasses for a moment, they would recognize that when you needlessly rob an animal of his life, it’s equally selfish, equally violent, and equally wrong whether you turn his mutilated body into bacon-wrapped éclairs au chocolat, or a BLT.

      This attitude that fetishizes the products of completely unnecessary violence toward animals, and that celebrates the enslavement and killing of animals, has no place in a progressive moral framework; moral progress always leads us in the direction of causing less harm. Demanding that sentient individuals be brought into this world simply to be hacked apart like so much timber is not a morally neutral position. It is willed harm. The self-congratulating glorification of “local meat” and “humane slaughter” is nothing more than the celebration of indefensible brutality toward the most helpless and vulnerable among us.

      • Well said, Ashley. How difficult it must be to reply to someone so obtusely bragging about being an ethical miser — but you did so with moral clarity and concision.

      • Hi again Ashley,

        “Mark, I also want to address your claim that your harm to animals is somehow more ethical because the food you prepare is “delicious” and “fine dining.”

        I think I already did it, but sure, just to make myself pellucidly clear. I don’t make that claim. The deliciousness of meat does not have anything to do a moral justification for killing animals. It may be why we do it, but it’s not what makes it acceptable.

        • Mark, you wrote in your first comment, “I also think it’s in very poor taste to turn such noble, gentle creatures into food that is tasteless and gross (i.e. Big Macs). Out of respect for the animal, I try and buy local beef and make it into an incredibly delicious dish.” The implication seemed and seems still to be that because you traffic in haute cuisine, you’ve somehow done better (acted more ethically) by the needlessly murdered animal than someone who turns him into a hamburger. If I’ve misinterpreted your comment and you were not claiming that your elaborate concoctions are more ethical because they are fancy and “incredibly delicious,” then why did you write that you do what you do “out of respect” for “such noble, gentle creatures”? The implication is that what you are doing is somehow more just on behalf of the animals. And that’s delusional.

          • Cooking good food is just a way I show respect for the sacrifice a creature has made. My thought process runs like, “Hey friends, this chicken’s life was ended so that we can enjoy this meal today. That’s a pretty serious thing. So let’s not waste it by overcooking it and turning it into some rubbery, bland hockey puck. And to you, chicken, thanks for your food, little lady.”

            So it doesn’t have to do with being more ethical, so much as making the most out of the situation I guess. And, part of the point of my alien overlord thought experiment is that I know that I would want my body to become a delicious meal if it absolutely had to be used for that purpose. Animals probably can’t think on that level, but if somehow they could, perhaps there is a chance they would feel the same way as me.

        • “Cooking good food is just a way I show respect for the sacrifice a creature has made.”

          the term “sacrifice” implies that the animal had some choice in the matter. an animal murdered for food has made no more of a “sacrifice” than a human who was murdered.

          “There are no magical slaughterhouses where animals are fed their favorite meal, make a last phone call to a loved one and voluntarily hold their breath until they die. The act of slaughter is violent, vicious, bloody and hellish. The animals do not sacrifice themselves for your pleasure, tradition or greed. They are dragged in, kicking and screaming until their last breath. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can eat meat, dairy and eggs and remain disconnected from this violence.
          The only way out is VEGAN.”

        • Mark, re: your bewilderment at my use of the word “sociopathic” to describe your first comment in response to the video—

          If I rescued and rehabilitated pit bulls from the dog fighting industry, and my life’s work involved witnessing victim after victim of this brutality; and I posted a video on a pit bull advocacy site of a mutilated dog cowering and trembling and pissing himself before being forced to enter the fight cage; and a fan of dog fighting came onto that forum and posted a comment in reply to my video that said, “I can watch this and feel at peace with humans’ use of animals for entertainment,” I doubt you would find inappropriate or surprising my use of the word “sociopathic” to describe such a heartless reaction.

          To me there is no difference between that scenario and the message you expressed, and continue to express, in response to the video of the cow: “I harm animals (and pay others to harm them for me) because I get pleasure from it.” And that is deplorable to me. As I have said to you in a previous comment, you cannot meaningfully object to willfully harming animals for pleasure in one instance, and not the other. It’s great that you get big vegan hugs from your ethical vegan friends when you express that you think it’s okay to harm animals for pleasure. But you don’t get respect for that position from me, nor will I pretend that your attitude doesn’t cause me great anger and pain. My job is not to pander to the lowest moral denominator in the hopes that if I just keep being friendly and diplomatic enough, he might change his mind. My job is to show that animals suffer, that they dearly value their lives, that they are individuals with inherent worth, that they do not want to die. The video of the cow is one of the most powerful and painful testaments to the fact that animals want to live that I have ever encountered. You watched that animal’s anguish, and came on here and said, in effect, “Meh. It’s okay with me what the cow went through, because animals taste good.” That is on you, not me. So spare me the politesse.

          You have shown that your compassion is selectively circumscribed by law and contractarianism rather than by a wish to cause less suffering. You may continue ad nauseum to elaborate your position under the veneer of collegiality, but the jovial tone and disingenuous rhetoric do nothing to change the fact that you are on here advocating for violence; maintaining that it is fine to enslave, harm and kill animals for pleasure. I do not respect such a position, nor anyone who holds it. I despise it, and the violence and suffering that are a result of it. Anyone who can witness this video and carry on about how delicious animals are breaks my heart.

          Yours sincerely, etc.

          • Well said, Ashley, I admire your honesty. I also feel at least many people like you here have the same as my feelings. I totally agree when you said any one who watched this video and seeing what these animals going through, still carry on about how delicious animals are breaks my heart. – “My job is to show that animals suffer, that they dearly value their lives, that they are individuals with inherent worth, that they do not want to die. The video of the cow is one of the most powerful and painful testaments to the fact that animals want to live that I have ever encountered. ” All what you said is exactly how I felt, I do not know how to say like you but I feel exactly the same as what you said. Thank you so much for having sympathy, your mind and your soul are beautiful just as your look. thanks for saying for those who have no voices.

    • I’d like to thank Mark Ford for his cogent and well-written arguments. It takes a certain amount of bravery to speak up for one’s beliefs on a forum which is bound to view them with some hostility. In a society where meat-eating is the default position, few people bother to justify their eating habits, so I have the utmost respect for Mark’s patient and thoughtful replies.

      • Andrew, How ironic that you value a position that respects some and exploits others. Or should I say, how Orwellian. Should Feminists “respect” the position of sexists? Should those who believe in civil rights respect the KKK’s beliefs? The fact that animal exploitation is considered normal today is irrelevant to this discussion. One day it will be viewed with the same aversion as all of the other forms of oppression. Society will be deeply ashamed in the future and wonder what we were thinking. The bravery you mention is not shown by those who simply defend the status quo’s deplorable treatment and use of animals as commodities. Instead bravery is shown by those who have the courage to oppose it because they know in their hearts it is wrong even when mainstream society tries to defend it with absurd justifications. Remember how the Germans defended Nazism until it was impossible to do so with a clear conscience? Seems like an apt analogy to me. Denial runs deep in the human psyche.

        • I think there’s a difference between respect and agreement. A feminist should respect a rational argument given by a sexist and those who believe in equal rights should respect the same from a racist. That’s not to say they shouldn’t consider the argument and counter it with their own.

          Wouldn’t it be a brave act for a klansman to speak to a black meeting, or a sexist to address a feminist group? Courage doesn’t require any particular moral outlook.

          • Andrew,

            i think courage has much to do with morality. the flaw i see in your thinking is that other than “might makes right” mentality, there IS no rational arguement for sexism, racism or speiciesim. the basis of all morals is the Golden Rule of treating others the way we wish to be treated and all of the ‘ism’s violate this fundamental principal.

            i also disagree with the notion that a klansman to speak at a black meeting would somehow be courageous. like any form of ‘ism, racism and speiciesim are based on the cowardly notion that some beings are “more special” than others so they are justified in exploiting, dominating and killing those weaker than they are for their own percieved personal gratification.

          • And what would the klansman say at the black meeting? “Please respect our practice of lynching and burning at stakes your people.” How about the sexist at the feminist meeting? “Please respect us for fighting against laws to protect you from rape and against your right to vote.” And in the case of eating animals, what would you expect us to say to someone like you and Mark Ford? “We respect your views of paying someone to shoot an innocent animal point blank in the skull, as in this video, because you like the way his flesh tastes.” I fear that someone like you, Andrew, is far too indoctrinated into the mainstream carnistic worldview to see the absurdity of invoking the need for diplomacy and respect for those who defend ideologies like racism, sexism and speciesism that are, by their very definition, violent and oppressive, and therefore negate dialogue.

          • >And what would the klansman say at the black meeting?

            Well he might say something along the lines of “I’ve made studies of human skulls and these show the superiority of the white race. The white race is under threat from the black and so the whites must carry out lynchings in their own interests”

            It might be a false argument but he would still be brave for delivering it in front of a black crowd. That’s my point.

            I’m a meat-eater, but I wouldn’t have the patience or courage to justify my diet on a forum where I know I would be subject to harsh personal attacks.

            That Mark is repeatedly willing to come back and engage with this conversation is surely a good thing and I posted to offer him support – I don’t believe there can be any ideology that negates dialogue.

          • Andrew, to follow your logic, then when a person has a pistol to your head, as in the case of the cow in the video, you go ahead and try to talk reason with him (at least you can speak his language). Is that a harsh personal attack too? For the animal victim, it is simply reality, the reality we choose to ignore. All in the name of defending our “taste” for the flesh of others. How brave. How valiant. How sweet of you to defend Mark.

    • I haven’t heard such a morally vacuous and utterly delusional post as this for some time. You work in an industry that benefits and exploits this situation and that is all. Your reasoning is hard to fathom and one can only assume that your desperation in justifying what you do is how you come to such bizarre conclusions. To compare your food with Macdonalds etc is irrelevant in the extreme, the cow that dies for your or their food suffers the same fate with the same results – who cares if your food tastes better or you think about it’s preparation more? And who cares for your oh so worthy ‘gratitude’ for their generous offering up of themselves? ‘The sacrifice they make for us’??? Please, what tosh is this? THEY do not make a sacrifice, WE kill them. To sacrifice yourself is to do something willingly, nobody could possibly think of them giving their lives for us surely? As for your position in gallantly accepting your fate if the tables were turned, just don’t. Don’t even pretend to explain it that way. Finally, such is NOT nature, such is choice.

    • Hi Mark:
      I know you and Staff Writers have exchanged many interesting ideas. My ESL language will not be so good to write to you long message, however, I just want to point out what I see mistake from your views shortly.
      You wrote:” No. Exploitation of animals is not humane. But if I were bred into this world to be slaughtered for food, and I had no idea that was what I was here for, and I didn’t even realize I was going to slaughter until maybe a couple of minutes before, I was slaughtered quickly and relatively painlessly, and my life until then had been normal and sociable and contented, then I would say that is relatively humane treatment. – See more at: http://freefromharm.org/animal-cruelty-investigation/saddest-slaughterhouse-video-ever-shows-no-blood-or-slaughter/#comment-2994
      Let me tell you that Your statement “and I didn’t even realize I was going to slaughter until maybe a couple of minutes before” this is completely untrue. Have you watched the video clearly, each cow standing in line to wait for their turn to go into the chamber has shake their head, and moving back ward to refuse to get into their turn to go to the dead row, they knew exactly their fates that human decided would be, and therefore, they shows emotionally scary, I don’t know because you did not watch the video, or because you try to convince yourself what you have seen according to your views. For what I have seen from the video, I have recognized that these cows absolutely knew what they were waiting for, and none of them wish to be killed humanely like you said. They even know and smell the death around them and their friends, and you said, they did not know they are going to die? that is not true, watch the video again and find out about the untrue statement you has claimed, sadly human do not want to admit that these animals knew what is going on, and once the machine going through their throats, you think that it is humanely , it is not hurtful like hell? it is enjoyable that the animals think they were deserved to be forced to sacrificed for human to enjoy good taste, (not because their survive, I repeat, not because human survival, but only for good taste, human can make a choice to eat banana instead of beef and they are perfectly alright to live up to 100 years, does it worth to make these animals sacrifice for your good tastes only? excuse me, I could not see your views are humane at all, it is just sounds as hole to say that. Forgive my language because I really angry about what you said.

  6. Mark, your apathy, selfishness and taste for violence in order to experience a momentary taste sensation is truly disturbing. it shows a callous disregard for the pain, suffering and murder of helpless others boarding on sociopathy. with such insensitivity and disconnectedness being common, is it any wonder there are so many human created atrocities in our society. to condemn one form of violence and to happily support another is ironic, hypocritical and the epitome the brutal “might makes right” philosophy behind every act of cruelty and domination.

    “Auschwitz begins whenever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks ‘they’re only animals'”-Theodor Adorno

    “It makes me sad to be in a world where innocent animals are literally turned into products and ingredients that people can, without even the slightest thought of the suffering and cruelty that went into the making of that “product”, simply toss into their shopping carts at grocery stores. Worse yet are those who see the suffering and cruelty and are made aware and do nothing about it, say nothing about it, or even go as far as to DEFEND IT!” – Sarah Kiser

    “Asking vegans to respect your decision to eat meat is on par with asking feminists to respect sexists, asking people of color to respect racists and asking homosexuals to respect homophobes. It is ludicrous to think that difference in opinion warrants mutual respect, especially when the opposing opinion in question not only stands for everything you are against but also appropriates suffering, defends oppression and encourages the continuance of exploitation.” — Felix Sampson

    • Hello Markgill,

      Nice to talk with you.

      This paragraph really saddened me:

      “Mark, your apathy, selfishness and taste for violence in order to experience a momentary taste sensation is truly disturbing. it shows a callous disregard for the pain, suffering and murder of helpless others boarding on sociopathy. with such insensitivity and disconnectedness being common, is it any wonder there are so many human created atrocities in our society. to condemn one form of violence and to happily support another is ironic, hypocritical and the epitome the brutal “might makes right” philosophy behind every act of cruelty and domination.”

      That someone could have such an extreme distaste for the art form I have cultivated through countless hours of effort, and have literally shed blood for (knives, ouch!) saddens me greatly indeed. I’m not saying you have to accept this art in any way. Art is for the pleasure and edification of our fellow humans, and not everyone may choose to participate in the experience. But for someone to call my art form sociopathy, well, I just feel kind of sorry for where humans are going.

      Now, if scientists were able to perfect cloning meat and make it every bit as desirable as real meat, I’d be all for it! It would be maximal harm reduction, and I think we’d all find it far preferable, and the planet could lighten its load a bit too. That would surely be something!

      • Mark,
        it seems that you are choosing to not separate your art form with the victims whose bodies you season, cook and serve as they are mutually exclusive. you speak of choice yet the non-human animals have zero choice in regards to their pain and death and therefore the violence which was forced upon them is not being recognized as the evil which it is. as Gandhi said, “The most violent weapon on Earth is the table fork”. there are countless, cruelty free, healthier options of which, by your previous posts, you are obviously aware of yet you defend your decision not to exclusively utilize them.

        if you examine your actions with an open mind using logic and critical thinking, there are only two possibilities. either you have no concern for the pain, suffering and brutal murder of others and are therefore a sociopath, or you are choosing to be a moral schizophrenic by being against violence, abuse, oppression, rape and exploitation yet willingly supporting and contributing to them. we were all where you are at one point in our lives but after learning the truth, decided to align our actions with our values and refuse to continue to take part in the holocaust. part of the blame can be put on the cultural and societal programming we all were subjected to but knowing the truth and still happily contributing to the atrocities makes you culpable for your actions.

        perhaps this passage will more clearly illuminate these idea’s for you:
        “What we leave behind—our legacy—is how we affected others. And for most of us, no other choice has a greater impact on the legacy of help— or harm— we leave behind, than our daily food choices. Day after day, and year after year, our lives can be seen as the culmination of thousands of instances in which, equally assured of nourishment and health, we had the opportunity to choose kindness and mercy toward other animals, or to choose violence and death for them. For billions of people, the question of eating animals really comes down to this basic question: am I someone who, when able to freely choose, would rather harm animals, or help them? When able to choose, do I choose kindness over violence, or violence over kindness? Our answer is our legacy.”

        • Markgill,

          Thanks for the reply. What I would like to focus on in my reply is the language you are using in your writing. It’s not that what you are saying is flat-out wrong, but you are using extreme language that inflates the situation beyond what it really is in reality, and really just makes you look like a swirling cauldron of emotion and anger. I respect vegans a great deal, and if more of the “hardcore” vegans would learn to simmer down and use a cool, clear head, I think your cause would be helped. You must realize that calling your opponents evil and schizophrenic and psychopathic does not support your cause. After telling one of my vegan friends that I was engaged in a debate in which I was being branded as psychopathic, she had this to say:

          “That’s one thing about some people who are vegan that I dislike: they associate that if people eat meat they must have a mental illness. First off, I see nothing wrong with having a mental illness, and using it as an insult is just as bad as being racist or homophobic. Second, if they wish for you to go vegan, they’re using a very ineffective tactic. I chose to become vegan based off of what I read, saw, and heard, not because some people started hating on me. I mean who says “Wow, those people really hate me, I think I’ll be just like them!”? I may not agree with you on eating meat, but that’s a behavior. I still like you as a friend and a person. So a big *hug* from this ethical vegan!”

          I find that to be a *perfect* statement of the kind of compassion that is sorely lacking in some vegan discussions like these. You chose to use the term “schizophrenic” in your comment above, which is addressed beautifully my my friend’s comment. Throughout this conversation, many on here seem to have gotten carried away with attacking me, using words like “apathetic”, “confused”, saying I “invoke Hitler”, etc. For a seasoned debater like me, I can’t get incensed anymore at comments like this, and if I did, it wouldn’t make me want to rethink meat-eating, it would just make me think vegans are a bunch of crazy folk.

          I’m writing this because I truly am sympathetic to your cause. I cook vegan food ALL the time, and know tons of vegans. Seriously. I live in Austin. It’s an alt-lifestyle mecca here. I celebrate the fact that there are different lifestyle choices we can make, and even celebrate the fact that we can civilly disagree over those choices. I believe all parties stand to benefit from embracing civility in this debate.

          • Mark,
            if you believe the language used to describe the truth is extreme, how would you describe the torture, expolitation and brutal murder of 10 billion innocent individuals every year in the USA alone? have you heard of the term “speciesism” before? it is defined as ” 1)prejudice or discrimination based on species; especially : discrimination against animals”.

            when considering acts of violence, a great test for speciesism is to replace the non-human animal victims with human victims. if your opinion on the situation changes when humans are involved (for example cutting someones throat to take what you want from them) then your view is very likely speciesist. i bring this up because when the victim is human, most people will agree that violence against innocent others is wrong, immoral and unjust. when the victim is a non-human animal however, speaking out against atrocities becomes too radical and extreme. why is it ok to call humans who kill and eat other humans a sociopath, but not to call a human who eats a non-human a sociopath? the defintion of a sociopath is someone who does not feel guilt or remorse after causing or witnessing the harm of another. perhaps this passage will state it more eloquently than i can:

            “If anyone says to you that you’re an animal rights extremist…thank them, and reply with the fact that they are animal wrongs extremists…it’s pretty extreme to pay someone (or do it yourself) to literally torture and kill innocent fellow sentient animals. Wake up folks, there is nothing extreme about not wanting to harm others. It’s our natural state. Most humans are misguided and indoctrinated into believing that cruelty is normal.”

          • “…if given the “choice” between, on the one hand, being shot in the back of the head while overlooking the pleasant Latvian countryside, and a deep trench filled with bodies, and, on the other, being worked to death at Treblinka, then yes, by all means, I’ll take the former. But the moment one claims that the former “option” is “humane,” then I fear you are laboring in Orwell’s totalitarian vineyards, and indeed are repeating, but in a different key, the same arguments made by the Binding and Hoche and other leading ideologues of Hitler’s euthanasia program.” – John Sanbonmatsu

            from, Fascism and the Language of ‘Humane’ Meat at http://freefromharm.org/animal-products-and-ethics/language-humane-meat-holocaust/

  7. actually, Mark has justified his actions by the only argument against veganism which is valid-that of “might makes right” or “i want to and i can”. of course, this is also the justification for everything from genocide to human slavery to the jewish holocaust. it is certain that people who abuse,rape, torture and brutally kill other humans are also convinced that they are ethical in doing so. to state that it is somehow ethical to harm and kill helpless, innocent beings because you gain pleasure from it shows an extremely self centered and narcissistic view of the world. as was brought up before in earlier discussions, the only thing which allows him the luxury of this is that he is the perpetrator of the violence instead of the victim. the Golden Rule, which is the basis of all morals and ethics, requires us to treat others as we wish to be treated. Mark is lying only to himself when he states that he would be fine with someone more powerful than he treating him how he treats those he cooks and eats.

    “In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” ― Isaac Bashevis Singer

  8. here is a prime example of what the term “humane”, which Mark so casually uses to justify his carnism, means to the animal ag industry:

    http://animalplace.org/a-gap-in-the-gap

    “It is a healthy, natural reaction for someone who witnesses the brutalities inflicted upon nonhuman animals in the agriculture industry for the first time, to ask, “how can we stop this from happening?”. The simple truth is that there remains only one answer, only one way to stop it from happening. We must end the consumption of animal-based products. Until then, nonhuman animals will always be placed in “livestock” conditions, they will always be exploited, they will always be abused and they will always be slaughtered. You cannot teach someone that a life-form has any real value when it is considered acceptable to enslave, kill and eat said being. Whilst humanity views nonhuman animals as resources, mere commodities, they will always be victims of our barbarity. There is no “humane” way to treat a slave and there certainly is no “humane” procedure to take a life.”

  9. Have you had no mercy ? Are you people are human beings or brutes in the form of human beings ?

  10. As hard as you vegans are trying to get people to become vegan, you have to try to create some middle ground with your activism. No way are you going to get people to give up meat, not for at least 20-25 generations. Start with a concept like, say, in order to eat meat, one must hunt and butcher it themselves. Trust me. My way would make way more “vegans” than you showing a video of some anonymous cow being led to his death. That video is awful, but it wont stop me from eating cow. Now, if I had to hunt it and kill it myself, I’d probably become a Vegan, only because I know how much time and effort it takes to stalk, hunt, kill, butcher and refrigerate a large carcass. That, would definitely drive me to veganism!

    • Hi Shawn,

      Check this out from Gary Francione’s site:

      “Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

      ‘When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.’

      So here’s my question:

      Why is every animal advocate and every large animal organization not working to get to that 10% rather than promoting welfare reform, “compassionate” consumption, and “happy” exploitation?

      Yes, I know “we won’t have a vegan world overnight” (the favorite way of welfarists to mischaracterize the abolitionist position) but we don’t have to get the whole world to go vegan “overnight.” We just need to build a solid vegan movement of 10%. But let’s be conservative and say that we need to reach 20%. We could do that.

      But we’ll never get there as long as we are telling people that they can do right by animals by consuming “happy” animal products.

      We will, of course, appeal to donors who want to continue eating animals and are happy to pay for a stamp of approval from animal advocates so that they can consume animal products with a clear conscience.”

      source: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/a-simple-question/#.Ulv27GRgZAQ

    • Hi Shawn,

      There are many “utilitarian” based animal advocacy organizations, most of all of the big ones in fact, which promote “happy” meat. We don’t. We believe it is just humanewashing which deliberately manipulates people into buying their happy products and happy branding fantasies.

      The following is a letter written by John Sanbonmatsu, associate professor of Philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, to Aaron Gross of Farm Forward which promotes “humane” animal products. I think this letter makes the best case for why this position is not going to bring about any paradigm shift in our relationship with animals and in fact has many parallels with fascism, as Sanbonmatsu points out here:

      Dear Aaron,

      Thank you for writing me personally, and for doing so in such civil and gracious terms. These debates are emotionally fraught, because politically and morally so, and wherever possible one should reach for the high moral ground by empathizing with those one disagrees with and trying to meet them half way.

      I am Jewish too, as it happens (on my mother’s side). And I too take seriously the Holocaust analogy. What other analogous human institution or set of moral crimes can we turn to, but to the Shoah, when looking at our treatment of the other species? It is precisely because I take the analogy seriously, however, that I cannot understand what you and Jonathan Foer and others think you are doing over at Farm Forward, HSUS, and other “reformist” groups.

      Allow me, briefly, to “translate” some of the language on your website, imagining however that it is addressing the plight of European Jewry in the early 1940s, rather than the butchery of nonhuman animals today:

      – “Himmler is a long-time friend and mentee of Franz Stangl. His objective is to turn the Coalition into a fully-integrated and self-sustaining production network capable of supplying the region with Jews to be gassed.”

      – “The Integrity of Humane Practices” shall include shooting Jews in the head, gassing them, and slitting their throats. Our position is that while murdering billions of Jews, for eternity, is not “ideal,” it can nonetheless be made a “humane and sustainable” (and, what is more, highly profitable) enterprise.

      – Buying and using products made from the bodies of gassed Jews–lampshades and so on–shall henceforth be known as participating in “Conscientious Consumption.”

      – We at Camps Forward support “the transition back to sensible and sustainable practices”–such as pogroms in the Pale and the ecologically friendly, scientifically sustainable methods of the Einsatzgruppen. As is well known, Jews for thousands of years were killed in small batches, in a romantic and aesthetically pleasing way, rather than en masse in ugly industrial facilities. We therefore applaud a return to this aspect of our collective Heritage.

      – The Camps Forward project makes it possible for “disparate interests opposed to the abuse of Jews in concentration camps [to] unite in coordinated and effective ways”–i.e. such disparate groups as the S.S., the Einsatzgruppen, as well as advocates of Jews in North America. We have created an ongoing dialogue and meeting ground between the peaceful killers of Jews, and Jewish advocates. Follow us on Twitter #Wannsee.com.

      Et cetera.

      What kind of self-deception must be involved, I wonder, for your organization to go around writing and promoting such Newspeak? For Newspeak it is. Here is another example:

      “Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch is a unique network of Heritage poultry farmers that includes the nation’s preeminent expert on Heritage poultry, Farm Forward Board Member Frank Reese. In 2009, with the pro bono assistance of Farm Forward Consulting, Good Shepherd was able to expand its production beyond turkeys to include chickens. Good Shepherd is currently the market leader in the sale of chicken and turkey products that come from birds who are raised entirely outside of the factory farm industry using humane and sustainable methods.”

      Talk about Orwellian — a direct advertisement for the market in dismembered animal bodies, on a site by animal advocates. “A unique network of Heritage” farmers is a fine touch — an appeal to conservative instincts, and to the hoary myths of virtuous agrarian life. A real “market leader”: banal corporate-speak in the context of mass killing. And so on. The text cannily interpellates the reader into celebrating the putative moral or public good of “expanding production” of murdered creatures. It is this home team we are implicitly urged to root for.

      The difference between true Newspeak and mere propaganda, of course, is the way the former unites contradictory or even antithetical concepts so as to evacuate them of substantive meaning, in order thereby to obscure (and secure) the violence at the heart of the enterprise. Hence the special genius of “the Good Shepherd” trope, which brings violence and government together under one roof, and which anchors the whole rhetorically in a Christian metaphysics. But as Thracymachus rightly pointed out in the Republic during his joust with Socrates, the “good shepherd” does not in reality have his flock’s interests at heart, since his job is to ready them for the executioner. To be sure, if given the “choice” between, on the one hand, being shot in the back of the head while overlooking the pleasant Latvian countryside, and a deep trench filled with bodies, and, on the other, being worked to death at Treblinka, then yes, by all means, I’ll take the former. But the moment one claims that the former “option” is “humane,” then I fear you are laboring in Orwell’s totalitarian vineyards, and indeed are repeating, but in a different key, the same arguments made by the Binding and Hoche and other leading ideologues of Hitler’s euthanasia program.

      In your note to me, you write, “Emphasizing the crucial ‘more’ in ‘more humane’ is something we could do better. Point taken.” But no, I’m sorry, that is not my point, so you cannot have taken it. Murdering animals (yes, murdering them: I am tired of using euphemisms) is not humane. Period, full-stop. There is no “more humane” way of cutting throats, gassing hundreds of avians in CO2 tanks. There are only relatively “less brutal” ways. Techniques of extermination can be made more or less aesthetic, more or less horrifying. But changing such techniques, swapping out the mechanisms of doom, does nothing to make the violence any less extreme or unconscionable. You can murder me less brutally, but you cannot murder me “more humanely.”

      Recall if you will the images from the beheading of Daniel Pearl by terrorists in the Middle East. Then look at some of the images I have attached here to remind you of where all the “happy talk” on your site about benignant farming really leads to in the end. If the leadership and board members of Farm Forward were intellectually and morally honest, you and they would include such images prominently on your website. But of course you will and cannot, since you are trying to make the bodies of dead animals seem palatable, not horrific. Please at least acknowledge that, in your special way, you are therefore lying to the public and betraying the interests of the millions of individual beings who are being killed on organic farms, precisely by not showing the public what actually ends up happening to them.

      Can you not see why, reading the Farm Forward website, I cannot help being reminded me of the model camps the Nazis set up for the International Red Cross? The “humane” camps which showed the Jews and Roma well fed and clothed, but which left out the part about all the killing?

      The reason this is all so very bad is that the global crisis of capitalist agriculture has for the first time in human history created an opportunity for us to challenge human species right and Herrschaft species politics — and you and others in the locavore/sustainability/welfare movements (sorry, but if I paint with a broad brush, it is because they ply the same basic message) are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (or, at least, from the historical possibility of a true awakening to the nature and scale of the problem) by re-legitimating animals as commodities, as having lives that do not deserve to be respected or protected. That is what brings your “disparate” group of killers and advocates together: a fundamental conviction, implicit in everything Farm Forward does, that while the suffering of farmed animals ought to be relieved, the actual lives of animals simply do not matter. They are weightless and insubstantial as air. And that is the root of the problem, ideologically. If we don’t challenge that, then we have challenged nothing.

      Farm Forward lobbies for purely superficial and symbolic improvements to animal “welfare,” without however attacking either the ideological root of the problem, which is speciesism, or the fundamental injustice that we do to other animals, which is to exterminate them in the billions. Far from promoting veganism, your organization promotes animal agriculture. Call it “humane” or “sustainable” or whatever you like, that is what you are doing — promoting one more kind of animal agriculture. Well, just as you can’t make a nation of alcoholics give up the drink by advertising 70-year old Scotch or offering them even finer liqueurs, you aren’t going to get people to change their prejudice that the lives of other animals are worthless by offering them “Heritage” flesh. The entire discourse is rotten and shot through with bad faith, because it tacitly affirms the behavior it supposedly disapproves of. In reality, asking people to reduce their meat consumption is like asking men to “reduce” their sexual violence against women, or President Assad to “reduce” his massacres of civilians, or racist whites in the South to “reduce” their lynchings of blacks (while adding, occasionally and timidly, that it would perhaps be “ideal” if they should cease such practices altogether). In other words, it is to give one’s imprimatur morally to the underlying practice, which is domination and extreme violence.

      It has been my own personal observation that consumers of organic “beef” and other products do not stop eating factory-farmed steak when eating out with their friends, nor do they reduce their consumption of animal products, after reading Omnivore’s Dilemma. But then, nor do such folk subsequently go on to question vivisection, or their right to bring their kids to see Ringling Brothers or the zoo, and so on. They don’t in fact come away caring about animals at all. And why should they? Because so long as Farm Forward and others tell them that nonhuman lives are worthless — or rather, worth only as much as the market will bear for their flesh — then middle and upper class consumers can indeed eat with a clear “conscience,” while working people and the poor and other middle class people keep on buying affordable, factory-farmed products. It’s a win-win: everyone gets to continue doing what they’re doing, without challenging the overall system one iota. Factory farming is as you know expanding, in fact, not contracting: the Smithfield deal is only the beginning of things. Locavorism will remain at best a niche market (as James McWilliams has pointed out, were all the cows pasture-fed, we would anyway need several more earths to devastate). I fear then that your “peanut-pushing” approach, as you call it, won’t lead to the closure of a single actual animal enterprise, ever — and by design. Instead, Farm Forward is embarked on an approach which advocates continuing such practices for an eternity.

      I cannot, therefore, make any sense of your otherwise heartening assurance to me that you too embrace the “project of trying to re-imagine subjectivity as such with a liberatory intent for animals.” Where is Hannah Arendt [author of the study, Eichmann in Jerusalem] when we need her? At least the Judenräte never had the chutzpah to advertise products made from Jews, or to speak enthusiastically of their liquidation as “humane and sustainable.” (Sustainable murder–now there is a concept.)

      As for the terribly disappointing Jonathan Foer [one of the prominent supporters of Farm Forward], I appreciated much of his book, Eating Animals, and in fact assigned it to my students last year. For me, though, the most revealing thing in the whole book was this passage: “Whether we’re talking about fish species, pigs, or some other eaten animal, is such suffering the most important thing in the world? Obviously not.” How’s that for playing to the mob? Now, one may quibble about whether the wholly unnecessary suffering and violent deaths of perhaps 100 billion land and sea animals each year is more important than, say, climate change, or poverty in the Third World, or anything else. But it is Foer’s “Obviously not” that gives the game away. Obviously the lives of all those animals could not possibly be that important. Re-reading that enabled me to understand Foer’s reasons for participating in that awful New York Times Magazine contest, “Defending Your Dinner,” in which the Times invited readers to defend meat consumption.

      In your note, you amiably advise me to expend my scarce energies elsewhere, rather than to attack fellow animal advocates. But the Times contest demonstrates perfectly what I am talking about, and why all this matters: viz. the strategic animal welfare intelligentsia, who are telling the consuming middle classes the very fantasy they most want to hear, which is that killing and eating animals on a gargantuan scale is morally unproblematic so long as we ameliorate the worst excesses of factory farming. Thus, on the contrary: revealing the fraud being perpetrated on the animal rights movement by groups like Farm Forward still seems to me the best possible use which I and others could be making of our time at this crucial historical conjuncture, given the way knowledge and legitimation practices circulate in our society.

      In fine, or so it seems to me, Farm Forward fails on both deontological and utilitarian grounds. It fails on deontological grounds because it treats the lives of billions of our fellow beings as disposable commodities, and therefore reinforces speciesism at the most fundamental level. But it also fails on utilitarian grounds. First, because the new welfarism will not displace or lead to the abolition of factory farming, but will only lead to cosmetic changes in the industry (this much is clear) without producing any qualitative mitigation in either the suffering or final agonies of those being killed — all the while putting a moral “Good-Housekeeping” stamp of approval on the new, lucrative niche markets in animal flesh (the very markets lining the pockets of elite Judas like Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, another Farm Forward board member). Second, because the whole project meanwhile serves the aforementioned ideological function of stabilizing speciesism by re-branding and re-naturalizing “meat” as a virtuous commodity.

      Farm Forward, whatever else it is or think it is doing, is therefore not promoting animal liberation. In my view, it is not even a pro-animal organization, but an anti-animal one. Call that “absolutist” or “purist” if you like. But I don’t see it that way. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said that in matters of ethics, we should stand firm as rock, but in matters of taste, swim with the fishes. Farm Forward and other groups seem to me to treat ethics as a kind of aesthetics, rather than as a fragile realm of empathetic and principled commitments that must be fiercely defended–defended at all costs and regardless of whether they happen to grate against the ugly prejudices of the majority.

      What you mistake for “pragmatism,” I fear, is merely giving in.

      Sincerely,

      John Sanbonmatsu, Ph.D.
      Associate Professor of Philosophy
      Department of Humanities and Arts
      Worcester Polytechnic Institute

      – See more at: http://freefromharm.org/animal-products-and-ethics/language-humane-meat-holocaust/#sthash.4us0yyKs.dpuf

  11. Now I’ve cried a lot over the treatment of farm animals, but I personally would not stop eating meat. To each their own opinion. Going vegan is admirable, yet all I’m seeing is people trying to force their ideas onto each other. One would call it being stoic or sadistic, while the other would say that it’s normal and that there is nothing wrong with it.

    Being in South Korea, it’s a lot easier to be vegetarian or vegan because meat is expensive. But lookie here, there are dog restaurants here. You can be disgusted, but meat is hard to grow here. So, dog was available and they ate it. Sustaining a country or a civilization holds higher concern than personal morals. Not everyone can afford going vegan. There are hardy animals that will better feed those in Africa because they are, plainly put, available. Protein, baby. I don’t think they can grow soy crops in middle Africa. If it’s necessary, do it.

    Again, going vegan. That’s not how people were thousands of years ago. As irrelevant as it is, man used to be nomadic (hunting animals) and it took them quite a while to learn how to settle down and grow crops.

    I take it that adjusting to a lifestyle would take a considerable amount of time, and that’s probably why people quit the vegan diet after half a year or so. Keep in mind also that people get a living out of raising and butchering animals. It’s a job that desensitizes you, and the solution could be to just not do it anymore. I know that many family-run farms have their own methods as well as the dirty tactics commercial farms use, but we’ve been doing this killing thing for a while already. It’s been working and as the saying goes,”Don’t fix it unless it’s broke.” Till a huge problem arises, I will happily consume my steak.

    Saying that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for the meat I have. I’m thankful for any food I get, because it’s always through the efforts of a living being. Whether it be the cow that was forced into its own death, or the plant that just grew in my backyard, or the farmers who are trusted with my diet. There are 6/7 billion people in this world. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Being in the human’s shoes, who’s more important? The human or the animal? Once more, judgement comes into play. Said human could be a criminal, choose the animal. Said human is normal, choose the human. You don’t have to be a vegan to understand how the world operates today. It’s sickening but it takes lifetimes to change. We could progress in science and things would be looked at in a different way.

    I will conclude with that you do most certainly do not have to be a vegan to feel bad for these animals. You most certainly do not have to be a meat-eater to feel bad for these animals. It’s only human to have such emotions. My judgement is different from yours and probably different from everyone else’s. I’m open to new ideas; fascinated by the way you guys think- it’s really impressive.

    • “I will happily consume my steak.” That’s all you really needed to say. It sums up your belief that animals mean nothing more to you than a slab of meat, even when faced with the reality of their suffering. You can’t pretend to take their interests seriously while you support violence and cruelty against them. I think you have a lot of confusion over right and wrong. You are trying to complicate an issue that is really quite simple. When something is right or wrong, we “feel” it immediately. If I kick your dog, you feel that that is wrong and you will react accordingly. We don’t have to think hard about it and try to rationalize away what could be right about it and what might be wrong about it. I suggest you read Eat Like You Care by Gary Francione.

      • My happiness could be equivalent to my gratitude. Once more, I will say that this is based on judgment. I never called them a slab of meat, which is indeed a fact. You’re a slab of meat yourself, and so am I. The only difference is that you can’t put yourself in a cow’s shoes because goddammit you’re not a cow. There’s the sense of danger that’s normal, but I can’t understand how to feel if I don’t even know what they think like. I don’t “feel” anything, because reacting like that is giving the action injustice. Kick my dog for what reason? If it were rabid then go ahead. If it did nothing and it was for pleasure, then yeah, I’d beat the hell out of you myself.

        I’m intrigued by your response and how you attack a personal comment therefore concluding that that is my logic. I never stated that I supported violence/cruelty but that I enjoy my food because it’s an art itself. You can go as low and say that it’s as bad as nudity. I just have one thing that I’ve been noticing for a while, it’s that… Way that you (doesn’t apply to everyone) automatically look down at the people who eat meat. Almost like a holier-than-thou act, which I don’t think will push people to stop eating meat. I enjoy your arguments and will try to come up with a rebuttal as nicely as I possibly can, but don’t go overboard and treat me like a sinner for enjoying what’s been given to me.

        • It’s interesting that your response includes many cases of “my” and “me” and “I” and I’m”. Therein lies the problem. You mistake the issue of animal suffering, such as the cow in this video, as about your interests, when, in fact, it is about the animals who are forced to suffer because, as you wrote in a previous comment, “you will continue to enjoy your steak” and apparently shed a few tears once and a while for an animal that had to die to satisfy your trivial food choices. Be honest with yourself. You are not the victim being attacked here so don’t make yourself out to be the victim, the one being persecuted. The animal is the victim. You support violence and cruelty every time you choose eggs, dairy and meat as a food option. This site will demonstrate why that is true with over 700 pages of content. There are no neutral actions. You can either make kind choices that don’t send animals to slaughterhouses or you can ignore your compassion, turn a blind eye, and eat like you don’t care. Is that offensive to you personally? If so, I’m sorry you find the truth offensive. It is merely the plain and uncomplicated truth of the matter.

        • A slab of meat is an object. Humans and other sentient animal beings are not objects. They are subjects with minds, thoughts and feelings. We turn animals into objects by reducing their individual identities into slabs of meat. That is what we do when we support the industries that turn their slaughtered bodies into objects for our consumption. That is what slavery does to humans when we support the institution of slavery and buy and sell slaves as objects, property, resources.

        • how is it “holier than thou” to be more concerned about the suffering and death of others than satisfying the desire for a trivial taste sensation? the absurdity of your extremely speciesist position is very easily exposed when the victims of your “choices” are human animals.

          the only valid argument against veganism is “i want to and i can”, or might makes right-which can be used to justify any form of oppression and exploitation including war, rape, genocide and human slavery.

          “And don’t tell me that I shouldn’t hit my woman when I have to. I don’t tell you that you have to hit yours. It doesn’t bother me one way or the other. If you want to abstain from hitting your wife, that’s a personal choice. But don’t tell me that I should.

          I live my life according to my own values. I understand that we all see things differently, and I embrace the diversity that makes people individual.

          I’m sick of self-righteous people going on about things like how they think it’s wrong for adults to have sex with minors. You might think that children shouldn’t be forced into sexual submission, but that doesn’t mean I have to see it that way. What right do you have to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do? What’s so bad about nonconsensual sex anyway? Rape might be considered wrong by some, but that’s not the case for everyone. Non-rapists shouldn’t expect the rest of us to live according to their rules.

          What business is it of yours?

          So don’t tell me how to think, or what to eat, or what to wear, or how to live. Don’t attack me with your accusations about right and wrong, justice and injustice… Those concepts are open to interpretation, and no one has any right to assume moral authority over anyone else. Just do your own thing… Go about your life the way you think you should.”

          http://gentleworld.org/dont-tell-me-what-to-do/

  12. There can be no reasoning and rationalizing out of some things, and trying to find excuses for eating meat should just be abandoned, especially for anyone seeing the lonely fate of that poor animal waitings his/her turn for slaughter. Will never get that video out of my mind.

  13. “That the use of animal food disposes man to cruel and ferocious action is a fact to which the experience of ages gives ample testimony…The barbarous and unfeeling “sports” (as they are called) of the English – their horse-racing, hunting, shooting, bull and bear baiting, cock-fighting, prize fighting, and the like, all proceed from their immoderate addiction to animal food. Their natural temper is thereby corrupted, and they are in the habitual and hourly commision of crimes against nature, justice, and humanity, from which a feeling and reflective mind, unaccustomed to such a diet, would revolt, but in which they profess to take delight.” ~ Joseph Ritson, Essay upon Abstinence from Animal Food: As a Moral Duty (1802)

    “The habit of shedding blood, or even of seeing it shed, corrupts all sentiment of humanity.” ~ Compte de Volney

    “Although I have been prevented by outward circumstances from observing a strictly vegetarian diet, I have long been an adherent to the cause in principle. Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.” ~ Albert Einstein

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