The disturbing incident, which took place on December 31, was filmed in Uttar Pradesh in the country’s far north.
In the footage, at least three men can be seen beating the critically endangered freshwater Ganges river dolphin as one man pins the animal down.
The dolphin struggles to free itself but is powerless against the group of men as blood pours from its body.
Horrific , difficult to watch video from UP’s Pratapgarh where these villagers beat a Dolphin ( yes a dolphin ) to death on dec 31 . Three arrested , says @pratapgarhpol . Must take a different level of depravity to do this … pic.twitter.com/KsV7eBZW4F— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) January 8, 2021
Towards the end of the 30-second clip, the dolphin appears to show few signs of life from the vicious attack.
“You are assaulting it for no reason,” one man can be heard saying, according to NDTV.
A forest department official who responded to a call about the incident, reportedly found the animal lying lifeless by the side of the Sharda Sahayak canal.
The official said the dolphin had received multiple injuries, including axe wounds. Villagers were reportedly unwilling to reveal how it died.
Three men have since been arrested after the video went viral on social media, according to the Pratapgarh Police Department.
Residents in the town of Raojan spotted the body of the Ganges river dolphin on the banks of the Halda River, AFP reported. It contained a deep incision from the neck to the tail.
Poachers appeared to have gutted the 62-inch-long animal, removing layers of body fat—a product that is used in local traditional medicine—Abdullah al Mamun, an official from the Bangladeshi fishery department, told AFP.
The Ganges dolphin is critically endangered. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are thought to be between just 1,200 and 1,800 Ganges river dolphins left living in the wild in Nepal, Bangladesh and India.
Concerns over poaching during coronavirus lockdowns have been raised by wildlife officials in countries around the world.
Poaching attempts have increased in Kaziranga National Park in India, which is home to the world’s biggest population of one-horned rhinos, during the country’s lockdown, AFP reported.
There has also been a spike in the killing of other animals in India, with poachers targeting the endangered Indian gazelle, peacocks, and other species, according to The Hindu Times.
Wahkiakum County Engineer Paul Lacy and his wife, Daria were scheduled to be in Wahkiakum District Court on Wednesday morning for a preliminary hearing. The pair have been charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty in the second degree and two counts of transporting or confining a domestic animal in an unsafe manner in a case that brought Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office to their Skamokawa property multiple times over the course of several months in 2019.
A brief overview, according to reports from the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office:
On May 2, 2019, WCSO received a complaint that several horses were loose in Skamokawa. When deputies responded, they found a small pig standing atop a larger decomposing pig carcass in a pig pen that was several inches deep in mud and feces. Nearby in a garage, they found several dogs standing shoulder to shoulder, unable to lay down in a kennel, along with a smaller cage containing more dogs. The dogs were without food and water. Two calves were found without water, and a dozen or more chicks were found without food or water.
On June 8, 2019, the WCSO received a report of possible animal cruelty at a property in Skamokawa.
A deputy found one horse up to its knees in mud and feces. There was an overturned water bucket nearby, and no feed. The horse had swollen knees and had lost patches of hair. Nearby in a horse area, he found four horses with untrimmed hooves and swollen knees. Several of the horses had ribs showing.
Paul Lacy said he had sold about 20 horses and still had about 18 remaining. He said it was not uncommon for horses to not get their hooves trimmed, stating that the Department of Natural Resources does not trim wild horses’ feet.
A witness provided photos of neglect, including a horse with visible ribs standing in a stall in mud up to its knees. A second photo showed a horse with overgrown hooves and visible ribs, and a third photo showed two horses with visible ribs.
On June 15, 2019, deputies and an animal control officer from Cowlitz County visited the Lacy home to inspect the animals. The animal control officer “found them to be in such bad conditions and health, according to her training and experience, that probable cause existed for Animal Cruelty.”
On June 18, 2019, deputies were told about an injured horse. A caller said she had witnessed people loading most of the horses onto a truck, but found a horse with a broken leg in a stall, bleeding out. Deputies responded. They found two horses in a muddy pen, one of which had clearly defined ribs, hips, and shoulder bones. Several pigs were in a large stall, laying in and wandering around in mud, feces, and bones. A horse with a leg injury was found deceased nearby, with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head.
On June 21, 2019, deputies returned to the farm. They found a horse with open wounds on its muzzle and face. Photographs were taken.
Paul Lacy said that the horse that had been euthanized had been buried in his back field, and that he had gotten rid of several dogs. He said that he did not want to get rid of any more, as he and his wife, Daria, planned to breed them to sell. He was advised that they would need a license.
Lacy was advised at that time that if he did not continue to improve the care of his current animals, he would be subject to criminal charges.
On June 24, 2019, Lacy said in a missive that he had reduced the number of horses from 18 to two, the number of dogs by five, the number of chickens by two, and the number of pigs by one, with a plan to auction three and harvest two.
On July 3, 2019, a neighbor reported that some of Lacy’s animals were on their property. The Lacys were given a warning. Deputies noted that the two remaining horses appeared to be in better condition, and that pigs were in a newly constructed pen with food and water available.
On December 15, 2019, a search warrant was served by the sheriff’s office in conjunction with the Cowlitz County Humane Society, which seized four pigs, one sow, five piglets, 15 sheep/goats, four ducks, four ducklings, one turkey, seven dogs, and 32 bird eggs in an incubator. Two dogs were found in a room, with evidence that they had attempted to gnaw and scratch their way out. The floor was smeared with feces, and there was no food or water. In the same room, they found a cage containing a duck and ducklings, the bottom of the cage full of liquid feces, resulting in a fetid odor. The animal control officer was heard to say that day that “this was one of the worst cases she has worked on.”
On December 19, they returned to collect the remaining animals, including 10 turkeys, 11 geese, 61 ducks, 42 chickens, one pack rat, and two pigeons. Every bird had a lice infestation, according to the report.
When I ate meat, if someone were to have asked me if I loved animals, I would have said an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ After all, I adored playing with dogs and cats I would come across, enjoyed feeding squirrels and birds with my grandmother and liked watching wildlife documentaries with my father.
However, eating animals requires someone ripping them from their families and butchering them—this is something everyone knows, even if they do not know the details of how it is done, and I knew that much too. Yet, I ate meat anyway. What allowed me to do so? What might allow others to do the same?
Scientists have been studying this conflict, between caring for animals and killing them to eat them. This phenomenon has been labelled ‘the meat paradox’ by University of Kent and Université Libre de Bruxelles researchers Steve Loughnan, Boyka Bratanova, and Elisa Puvia.
And we generally do care for animals. That’s why countries have laws protecting animals, why societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCAs) and other animal protection groups exist, why there was such national outrage when tigress Avni was killed, why the global horror when Cecil the lion and later his son Xanda were killed by trophy hunters in Zimbabwe, and it is likely why you are reading this book. In fact, many of us find what has to happen to animals to produce meat wrong, at least in principle, what little we may know about it, even if we eat meat.
A prank that was set up at a supermarket in Brazil, in which a man pretending to be a butcher offered samples of free fresh pork sausages to the store’s customers, proves this point. Shoppers would visit the counter, eat and admire the pork. Then, the butcher would offer to make more, but to do so he would bring out a live piglet and put the animal in a machine that appeared to instantly grind her up and turn her into fresh meat. In reality, another prankster was sitting in the machine safely collecting each baby pig. Although customers had just readily eaten pork, they were aghast when they thought a live pig was about to be killed. One woman spat out pork from her mouth, others pleaded with the butcher not to kill the young pig and even tried to physically stop him from doing so. None of them picked up another piece of the free fresh pork that they had eagerly eaten before seeing the live pig. If you were one of the customers, what would you have done?
Ranking Species on Worthiness of Moral Concern
While many of us are perturbed by the thought of slaughter of any animal, several studies found people who choose to eat animals are inclined to reject the thought that animals are capable of complex emotions and are likely to draw a further line between the emotional capacities of animals usually used for food (such as chickens) versus those who are not typically eaten by humans (like parrots). Both are birds, but the findings of these scientists indicate that people who eat meat are prone to believe parrots can feel more deeply than chickens, even though there’s no scientific support for such a view. Refusing to acknowledge animals, especially animals used for food, have the ability to experience deep emotions, appears to let many of us dismiss what happens to them in the production of food.
Through studies conducted by Loughnan and his colleague Brock Bastian of the University of Queensland, the pair describes how vegetarians tend to compare with meat eaters in thinking about the mental faculties of animals when told they will be killed. Vegetarians did not alter their view of that animal’s acumen when told an animal, such as a lamb, was set for slaughter. When meat eaters were told the same thing, it was found that they generally reduced their view of the animal’s mental abilities. This, the researchers surmise, may be a ‘defensive way’ to allow us to consume animals without much guilt or remorse.
Another experiment shows merely categorizing an animal as ‘food’ effects how most people perceive the animal’s rights. In this study, researchers introduced a tree kangaroo to participants—an animal the participating individuals were not familiar with. They were given general information about tree kangaroos and then some were told that the animals were for eating while others were not. Those individuals who were told the species was food considerably regarded tree kangaroos as less deserving of concern than the other participants.
Labelling an animal ‘friend’ has an effect too, but an opposite one—doing so tends to increase our respect for the friend species. This labelling of animals as ‘friend’ versus ‘food’ and the psychological effect it has on how we then view them is surely what helped me, when I consider it in hindsight, to simultaneously love animals like dogs and cats and eat animals like cows, chickens and pigs.
If this is the effect one study had on people’s minds, imagine the result of being told repeatedly, like we usually are from a young age, that certain animals are for ‘food’ by authority figures, like our parents, or members of our community or people we want to be accepted by, like our friends. What if these individuals would have instead categorized those same animals as ‘friend’? Would we have thought differently?
Today there are many vegetarians and vegans in the United States, but in the ’80s and early ’90s, the repeated messaging to me as a youngster from most people was speciesist: Animals like cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and fish merely existed to be eaten and animals like dogs and cats are friends. In other words, particular species are worthier of respect than other animals just by way of being. Indeed, though I happily ate what I considered to be the ‘food’ members of the animal kingdom, I would have eaten my own foot before I ate a dog. If we are raised in a meat-eating family, or if our families engage in rituals or customs that involve killing or eating certain animals, something similar is usually the repeated messaging we hear too.
This excerpt from A Moment of Taste by Poorva Joshipura has been published with permission from HarperCollins India.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to ban live animal exports as soon as Britain officially left the EU. But an upcoming court case is spreading doubt about whether or not he will follow through.Reading Time: 4 minutes
UK animal welfare campaigners who saw a vote for Brexit as an opportunity to end live farmed animal exports are perplexed by recent government efforts to defend the trade.
Told for years that European Union laws prevented a British ban on live exports, campaigners reasoned a pro-Brexit vote to leave the EU was the solution. That belief was backed by promises from Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. In June, Johnson reiterated his promise to ban live exports as soon as Britain officially leaves the EU on December 31st this year.
But an upcoming court case is spreading doubt about those promises. The case, taken by British welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), seeks to end the export of unweaned calves from Scotland. A win, said CIWF lawyer Peter Stevenson, could have repercussions throughout the EU.
The problem for campaigners is that both the British and Scottish governments have taken recent steps to oppose CIWF’s case—due to be heard again in October—effectively protecting live exports.
On the British side, Stevenson said, opposition to CIWF’s case comes in an official document, submitted to the Scottish court by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). In Scotland, the government has appointed a barrister to fight the case.
Campaigners abhor live export for many reasons but top of the list is the experience of farmed animals in transport. Calves and sheep exported from the British port of Ramsgate spend many hours in ‘roll on, roll off’ trucks taking them from collection points to the port, onto ferries, and then to different parts of Europe.
For calves, the misery is compounded by a lack of liquid milk replacer. Other concerns include the rate at which the trucks fill with feces and urine, poor access to water, extreme heat in summer, cold in winter, cramped conditions, and the risk of injury or trampling.
Last year, official figures obtained by welfare organization, Eyes on Animals, show almost 3,500 unweaned (or milk-reliant) calves left from Ramsgate, a small port town in southeast Britain, along with 17,000 sheep.
Asked about the apparent contradiction of promising an end to live export, while fighting CIWF in court, DEFRA refused to comment on an ongoing legal case. In an email, however, a DEFRA spokesperson said the British government “has committed to improving the welfare of animals during transport and ending excessively long journeys for slaughter and fattening.”
A Scottish government spokesperson replied in a similar vein, saying it “would not be appropriate to comment while legal proceedings are ongoing.” The email added that “our preferred policy intention is not to support unnecessary long journeys involved in the export of livestock.”
CAWF patrons include high-profile politicians and peers, among them Lord Zac Goldsmith, recently appointed as Minister of State at DEFRA; Theresa Villiers, Minister of Parliament (MP); Sir Roger Gale MP; Sir David Amess MP and Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s partner. “And they are very vocal,” in support of a live export ban, said Platt.
Asked if she remained optimistic about ending live exports, despite the opposition to CIWF’s case, Platt said yes. “We never give up hope. There is great political will to end this. Boris Johnson wants to end it. And his partner Carrie Symonds and his father Stanley Johnson.”
She added that CAWF is equally hopeful that Brexit will lead to further animal welfare initiatives, notably bans on imports of fur and foie gras.
Other protesters variously described government opposition to CIWF’s case as frustrating, strange, illogical, or hypocritical. One, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears of retaliation by farmers or live export companies, wondered whether politicians had gone soft. “I understood that with the Brexit vote, the ban on live exports might not be immediate. But now they are defending [the CIWF case] in court. We think they are trying to wriggle out of it, or they lied,” the protester said.
The protester is one of many regulars at the Ramsgate demonstrations, which can draw crowds of up to 100 people. The demonstrations are organized by KAALE – Kent Action Against Live Exports. KAALE’s secretary is Yvonne Birchall. She too voted Brexit in the hopes of ending live exports.
Speaking the morning after a July 9th Ramsgate protest, Birchall said that despite government opposition to the CIWF court case, she believes a ban will happen. “Boris won our votes on the promise of banning live export. If he breaks that he won’t get re-elected by us,” she said.
There are other reasons for optimism, added Birchall. One of those is an amendment to the Agriculture Bill that could ban live exports for slaughter and fattening tabled by Baroness Fookes, Conservative Party member and Life Peer in the House of Lords. “We think there will be cross-party support for that.”
Birchall said the previous night’s protest had been tough. “[The police commander] was very aggressive. The lorries [carrying animals to the port] came round the roundabout [where the protesters stand] at high speed – too quick for the conditions and the number of people. Our video team started to film, as we always do, and then the police were trying to stop us. That does not normally happen. I was shocked.”
Birchall added more details in a Facebook post and told Sentient Media she had a “sneaking suspicion” the police were trying to prevent filming “because we have been finding so many things wrong.”
Responding to Birchall’s criticisms, Kent chief inspector Alan Rogers said while police understand the “depth of feeling” protesters might have, they are “impartial and officers have a duty of care to keep everyone safe.” Rogers added that officers are specially trained “to respond proportionately to peaceful protest, prevent crime and disorder, and allow businesses to go about their lawful trade.”
The lawfulness of trade is, however, exactly the issue protesters want to see examined in court, using the evidence—provided to CIWF for their case—collected over many years by what Birchall calls KAALE’s “machine of people” that bear witness at the port.
The animals are crammed into tiny wire cages where they can barely move. It’s the only space they’ll ever know, and it is a terrible one. Feces pile up under the cages, and their water bowls are either dry or a fetid pool of algae.Share186TweetRedditEmail186SHARES
The cruelty of fur is on terrifying display in these scenes from a fur farm, captured on video by investigators working with Humane Society International. Foxes are pulled out of their cages, one by one, usually by their tails as they try to cling to the wire walls in terror. Each is thrown to the ground and repeatedly bludgeoned in the head and face with a metal rod. The animals struggle and tremble, badly injured but not yet dead. The ground is stained with the blood that pours out of their heads.
Moments later, if you can still bear to watch (warning: the linked video contains images that many will find disturbing), you’ll see men skinning the animals, some still alive, after which their bodies are dumped like trash. The camera moves to a pile of discarded carcasses, including one skinned animal who raises his head, slowly and painfully.
It’s hard to imagine a worse way to die. But the lives of the nearly 100 million animals killed each year for their fur, including foxes, raccoon dogs and mink, are hardly any better: they spend all of their days in captivity at fur factory farms like these. As you see in the undercover footage, the animals are crammed into tiny wire cages where they can barely move. It’s the only space they’ll ever know, and it is a terrible one. Feces pile up under the cages, and their water bowls are either dry or a fetid pool of algae. The animals are never seen by a veterinarian, and many exhibit symptoms of mental distress and decline.
Skinned animals are heaped in a pile at a fur farm. Animals are sometimes skinned while still alive.
Investigators filmed this footage at 11 randomly selected fur farms in one of the top fur-producing countries in Asia. We are choosing not to reveal the country in order to protect the identity of the investigators. Besides, it’s important not to lose sight of the true culprits here: fur factory farms like these would not exist if designers, retailers and consumers did not provide a market for these cruel products.
With growing awareness about the immense suffering of animals in the fur industry, major fashion houses and retailers the world over have shunned it. In the last few years alone, we have worked with major fashion brands and retailers, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, YOOX Net-A-Porter, Farfetch, Donna Karan, Burberry, Coach and others, to announce fur-free policies. California last year became the first U.S. state to ban fur, and we are working to pass similar bans in cities and states across the United States, including Minneapolis, Rhode Island and Hawaii.
Globally, HSI has kept up the momentum against fur. HSI/United Kingdom spearheads the campaign to make Britain the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. The U.K. banned fur farming two decades ago but still imports tens of thousands of pounds of fur each year. More than a dozen European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic and Norway, have also banned fur production.
The Netherlands, once the third largest fur farming country in the world, banned fur production in 2013 with an 11-year phaseout. But in recent months, the coronavirus crisis has added even more urgency to end the fur trade there and around the world. After two fur farm workers in the Netherlands were reported to have contracted the virus from infected mink, the country killed hundreds of thousands of mink, most of them pups, on 20 Dutch fur factory farms to stop any further spread of the virus. The Dutch government is now considering a permanent closure of all mink fur farms in the country. Denmark, which is Europe’s largest mink producer, has also discovered infected mink on three fur farms. Infectious disease experts had already warned fur farms could act as reservoirs for the disease, and with this cull, we have seen even more needless suffering play out for these animals.
The fur trade has nothing to offer except the worst sort of cruelty for a product no one needs. So many warm and stylish alternatives indistinguishable from animal fur are now widely available to consumers, and even a single animal bred and killed for their fur is one too many. This gruesome video is a reminder that we still have a long way to go, but we won’t stop until this cruel commodity is wiped out for good, and no animal is beaten to death and skinned alive on a fur farm anywhere in the world.
Washington, DC—COVID-19 has shut down, at least temporarily, dozens of pig, chicken, and turkey slaughter plants in the United States, leaving millions of farm animals with nowhere to go. Some producers have arranged to keep animals on the farm until plants reopen, while others have chosen to kill healthy animals and bury or compost their bodies.
The term euthanasia, which literally means “a good death,” has been inappropriately used to characterize the killing by inhumane methods of healthy farm animals due to slaughter and processing capacity problems. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) uses the term “depopulation” to describe the rapid destruction of a population of animals in response to urgent circumstances. One method that has been used to kill large numbers of farm animals is “ventilation shutdown,” which involves turning off the airflow in a barn and ratcheting up the heat to as high as 120 degrees, leaving trapped birds and pigs to die from a combination of heat stress and suffocation.
Dena Jones, director of the farm animal program at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), issued the following statement regarding the use of ventilation shutdown to kill farm animals due to limited slaughter capacity during the pandemic:
The ventilation shutdown process can take hours and likely results in severe animal suffering. Intentionally inflicting death in a manner that causes elevated and prolonged distress is unacceptable and does not qualify as “euthanasia.” It is particularly insupportable for the AVMA — a professional scientific body representing veterinarians sworn to protect animals — to allow its guidelines to be used in such an inappropriate manner.
When the AVMA proposed allowing the use of ventilation shutdown to kill animals “in constrained circumstances,” AWI warned that the AVMA guidelines might not prevent producers from using this extreme method in situations that instead call for euthanasia. In fact, that is exactly what is happening now; healthy animals posing no public health risk are being killed by a grossly inhumane method to aid the meatpacking industry.
Ventilation shutdown was last used in 2015 in response to an outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu, which killed nearly 50 million chickens and turkeys in the United States. During the current pandemic, however, animals are not suffering from disease, nor are they at risk of transmitting disease to other animals or to humans. Instead, they are being destroyed because meat companies have failed to properly protect their slaughterhouse workers.
The modern animal agriculture industry in the United States routinely puts profits over the well-being of both animals and workers. It runs slaughter lines as fast as possible, provides animals the lowest level of care required, and offers minimal health and safety protections to its workers. There is no margin for error in this intensive, high-production system. As a result, the wave of plant closures has left millions of animals in limbo. Nevertheless, the current situation does not justify subjecting any animal to a cruel death.
“Ma po tofu has to be a favourite,” says David Yeung, a smile evident in his voice. “It’s very spicy, a little bit numbing, and usually sprinkled with minced pork.”
Hong Kong-based Mr Yeung is the founder of OmniPork, part of the environmentally focused venture Green Monday. OmniPork is a plant-based meat alternative that is now on the menu in many of Hong Kong’s trendiest restaurants, hotels and bars.
A vegetarian of two decades, he’s explaining how substitute meat is not just a market for the North American brands like Impossible Foods, and Beyond Meat, which have become well known for their burgers. He says the Asian market is hungry for home grown meat alternatives.
“Almost everywhere in Asia – Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, especially mainland China – the number one meat is pork. The only exceptions are Muslim countries.”
Indeed, China loves pork. The country of almost 1.4 billion consumes more pork per capita than any other nation.
Covid-19, environmental issues and growing health concerns in a nation with increasingly high rates of obesity, have all encouraged a new wave of plant protein firms to develop new products.
For example, Beijing-based Zhenmeat is looking at 3D printing elements of its products to mimic bone or muscle.
“We eat a lot of different parts of the pig. The Chinese consumer loves different parts for different dishes but we are focusing in on Szechuan hot pot,” says chief executive Vincent Lu.
Zhenmeat is throwing its marketing behind one product in particular, created with the Institute of Alternative Protein in Beijing, a meat-free alternative to pork tenderloin, which is popular in hot pot.
It is a very specific cut of pork and style of cooking. But Mr Lu says it’s all part of the firm’s strategy. “If you look at the US market, consumers love burgers. So what kind of product do consumers love in the Chinese market? Hot pot is the most loved dish.”
But none of this innovation comes cheaply.
Matilda Ho is the founder of Bits x Bites, China’s first food technology venture capital group. She has backed four different protein companies, from plant-based to cell-based.
“We are just at the beginning,” she says. “But will the one-off purchase for the novelty value translate into repeat purchase and product loyalty? That’s the big question. In cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu, consumers are known to be eager experimenters when it comes to new food trends. But only a few will turn into behaviour change.”
Ms Ho also says it is easy to overstate climate worries as a reason for Chinese consumers to switch from animal protein.
“Taste will always be the driver for consumers to convert their behaviour. It won’t be environmental concerns.”
Shaun Rein, managing director of the China Market Research Group in Shanghai, says the market is still small but there is potential, given the open-minded nature of Chinese cookery and a willingness of shoppers to experiment.
“Chinese consumers are indeed always looking for alternative sources of protein. We think the market for plant-based meat is about $910m (£730m) and will grow about 20-25% annually. There’s a lot of excitement about these ‘fake’ meats, but the market is fairly small.”
But price is a big driver when it comes to long-term change, he adds. “When we interviewed blue-collar workers one of their main concerns was the price. The big winner could be ‘fake’ meat, or it could be seafood.”
Bruce Friedrich is the co-founder of the Good Food Institute, which researches and promotes meat alternatives. He is convinced the price issue will be solved. “While the plant-based meat costs a little bit more than regular meat it will be for people who are interested in looking at the way industrial animal meat is produced.
“But if you can make crops which mimic the way meat tastes and smells and looks, and scale that up, it will become cheaper than animal meat. Then it becomes not just for vegetarians and ‘flexitarians’ (those who cut meat consumption by going meat-free on certain days) but for everybody.”
Maria Lettini is executive director of FAIRR, a global network of investors concerned with issues surrounding intensive animal agriculture. She says with Covid-19, we are likely to have to pay more for our meat in the future.
“How are we going to make this system [of meat production] safe, how are we going to make it more resilient – without that coming at some kind of cost or investment?
“I don’t think meat at our grocery stores is being correctly valued. We probably need to be spending more to be able to consume it as much as we are.”
David Yeung of OmniPork says that his product is comparable on price. It now appears on UK brand Pizza Express’s products in Hong Kong, and Taco Bell branches in Asia. These are big names, but will this new breed of protein pretenders become mainstream any time soon?
Mr Yeung doesn’t expect everyone to become vegan, but insists “we are on a ramp-up for the whole industry” and that Asia is leading this change.
“This isn’t just about consumer trends, it’s about climate change, the pandemic, swine fever. Governments will have to look at this, not just as consumer choice or a trend – but about sustainability of the planet.”
A 12-year-old asked, after his mother told him animals don’t have feelings.
Posted Jun 24, 2020
Names and labels used for “food animals” are psychological ploys to distance people from their meals and reduce cognitive dissonance.
A few weeks ago I received an email from a 12-year-old boy (Erwin) who was concerned and confused about the names and labels that are used to refer to so-called “food animals.” He asked, “Why are cows meat, pigs pork, turkeys turkey, and tunas tuna?” The COVID-19 pandemic is calling attention to the lives and plight of a wide variety of nonhuman animals. He had read about the horrific conditions at pork-producing meatpacking plants and, while he knew that what we call pork had previously been a sentient pig, he hadn’t really thought much about it.1 I reminded him that the meat and pork industries are more appropriately called the cow and pig industries, that a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is really a pig, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, and that the real question at hand is “Who’s for dinner?” rather than “What’s for dinner”? A few other email exchanges showed me he clearly understood what I was writing.
Erwin also mentioned that when he asked his mother this same question, she casually told him that animals don’t really have emotions or feelings, and “These words are used are for marketing and people don’t want to come to terms with the fact they are eating a cow or a pig.” Erwin wondered, rightfully, why birds, fish, and invertebrates who are eaten usually called by name, for who they are—chicken, turkey, goose, tuna, halibut, lobster—and wanted to know more about the names and labels that are used to refer to nonhumans who are regular features on countless humans’ meal plans. He also wondered why lamb chops are a popular food item, and I couldn’t say much about it given that it’s well known that sheep are fully sentient beings just like cows, pigs, and other mammalian “food animals,” but I was pleased he asked. I once asked a hunter why deer meat is called venison, but people freely talk about elk steaks. He said something like, “Many people don’t want to face the fact they’re eating a cute deer like Bambi.”
Why are cows meat, pigs pork, sausage or bacon, chimpanzees bushmeat, turkeys turkey, chickens chicken, tunas tuna, and lobsters lobster?
Of course, there are many other examples of misleading speciesist names and labels used to refer to “food animals.” Indeed, they have become global memes. In my emails to Erwin I mentioned a few things that are easy to summarize. I began by writing that his mother was right on the mark—most people don’t want to know they’re eating cows or pigs, but don’t really think about who they’re eating when birds, fish, or some invertebrates are on the menu. Numerous people think that animals whose species’ identities aren’t hidden or disguised aren’t really sentient or emotional and they’re all the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth, given what solid science has shown us about birds, fish, and numerous invertebrates.2,3 We also know that mammals, birds, and fish don’t like being caged and brutally abused in ways that defy any compassion or empathy at all, that birds and fish don’t necessarily suffer less than mammals, and that they have unique personalities. Animal sentience isn’t science fiction and animal suffering isn’t an enigma.
Walter, a rescued turkey, at Luvin’ Arms Animal SanctuarySource: Tito White, with permission
I also mentioned that the words and labels that are used are very effective psychological ploys that distance people from their meals and reduce cognitive dissonance for those who fully know—or should know—who they’re consuming, but want to forget about it. He fully understood what I meant. Also, some people know the animals suffer and still can’t stop themselves from eating them—eating misery—and can’t resolve the “meat paradox” by not doing what they well know causes pain, suffering, and death.
The 3 Ds that influence meal plans: How denying and distancing work to reduce dissonance.
I went on to tell Erwin that his mother was incorrect in saying that nonhumans don’t have emotions or feelings. I wondered if she really meant this or if it was her way of denying and distancing herself from who she was eating. As incredible as it sounds, there still are people who deny that nonhumans are sentient and emotional beings. They’re clearly stuck in the darkest of dark ages and maintain that we don’t really know if other animals have emotions. These denialists go on to falsely and inanely claim that there’s no science to support the idea that other animals are sentient and emotional beings, so therefore they’re not. I won’t belabor the crude logic here, but it really does exist. For example, recently, The Ontario Federation of Agriculture made this absurd claim, despite clear scientific evidence that numerous nonhumans have rich and deep emotional lives.4 I told Erwin that the real question at hand is why emotions have evolved, not if they have evolved, and that they matter very much to the individuals experiencing them. article continues after advertisement
I also explained to Erwin that the vast majority of “food animals” produced by massive industries are numbered, rather than named. This is another way for people to distance themselves from who the animals—each and every individual—truly are. Animals on sanctuaries, such as turkey Walter (above), are invariably named, and this helps to establish close and enduring relationships and recognize every single one as the unique individual they are. Of course, unnamed animals aren’t less sentient than named individuals. All should be referred to as “who,” rather than “it,” “which,” or “that.”
Finally, I mentioned to Erwin that many people who choose to unmind “food animals” and falsely rob them of their emotional lives don’t hesitate to attribute rich and active minds and a wide variety of emotions to companion animals with whom they share their homes. Uminding is a ruse by which some people claim certain animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, and others who wind up on humans’ plates are dumb and don’t have feelings, and this ploy allows them to eat and otherwise use and abuse them without a care in the world. While many people don’t like to admit it, in terms of harms, pain, suffering, and death, dogs and cats don’t really suffer more than individuals who find themselves on humans’ meal plans. When people ask me how can I work in China helping to rescue moon bears from the bear bile industry knowing that people there eat dogs and cats, I usually respond by politely saying something like, “Well, I live in the United States where people eat cows, pigs, sheep, and other fully sentient animals, and I dislike both practices. What’s the difference?”
While it may sound strange or heartless, there really isn’t a difference between eating traditional “food animals” and companion animals, because they’re all sentient and deeply suffer on the long and pain-filled journey on their way to peoples’ plates.5 Along these lines, in her book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, Melanie Joy “explores the many ways we numb ourselves and disconnect from our natural empathy for farmed animals.” She came up with the term carnism “to describe the belief system that has conditioned us to eat certain animals and not others.”
Youngsters offer hope and we must listen carefully to them.
I’m pleased that Erwin wrote to me. He raised a lot of issues, many of which he was unaware were so salient, current, and on the minds of numerous people. I’m also happy that he understood what I wrote to him, or came to understand it after a few exchanges. Along the way, his mother thanked me and said she was revising her ways of thinking about animal sentience and animal emotions. I was pleased that she and Erwin could have further conversations about who we eat, how they’re labeled, and why. I thanked her and noted it was a win-win for all.article continues after advertisementhttps://4a194d60cc7be2e2f602ef76b092b970.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
I’ve written a number of other essays motivated by great questions from curious youngsters.6 These discussions give me hope. We really need to listen carefully to what they’re are saying and asking. We must do the very best we can to leave future generations a more compassionate and friendlier world in which humane education and peaceful coexistence are high on the agenda.
Testing has found positive cases at North Carolina facilities, but officials refuse to release the information
Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in Marshville, North Carolina. Photograph: Francisco Kjolseth/APAnimals farmed is supported byAbout this contentLewis Kendall in Durham, North CarolinaPublished onWed 1 Jul 2020 05.00 EDT
Achicken processing facility in western North Carolina reportedly underwent widespread testing for Covid-19 in early June.
Workers at the plant were scared. Several employees had already tested positive and the company, Case Farms – which has been repeatedlycondemned for animal treatment and workers’ rights violations – was not providing proper protective equipment.
“We don’t have a lot of space at work. We are shoulder to shoulder,” said one worker, who declined to be identified, during a recent union call. “I’m afraid to go to work, but I have to go.”
The testing turned up 150 positive cases at the facility, the worker said.
On 8 June, the health department for Burke county, where the Case Farms facility is located, reported 136 new Covid cases, a 25% increase in its total caseload. Yet neither the company, county officials nor the North Carolina department of health and human services would confirm whether those cases were connected to Case Farms.
It is just one example of the currently taut relationship between public health and the economy in North Carolina, as the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations rises.
North Carolina is one of the largest pork and poultry producing states in the US, exporting roughly $1.25bn in hogs, chickens and turkeys every year. Health departments in rural parts of the state, areas that often lean on large meatpacking or food processing facilities as primary sources of employment, have so far been tight-lipped about Covid-19 outbreaks in those plants.
In late April, while outbreaks began emerging at meat processing plants across the country, Donald Trump signed an executive order forcing the facilities to remain open. That same month, the US exported a record amount of pork to China, despite industry claims of a domestic shortage.
Workers wear protective masks and stand between a plastic dividers at a Tyson Foods poultry plant in Georgia. Photograph: AP
Since the pandemic began, more than 36,000 meat processing and farm workers have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 116 have died, according to a tally by the Food and Environment Reporting Network, though the true number is likely higher.
Through case interviews and contact tracing, the Burke county health department, where Case Farms is located, does have data about where people with positive cases work, but are choosing not to release it, said spokeswoman Lisa Moore.
“We know where they are, but we are not a county that can divulge every place where they are,” Moore said.
Case Farms requested the health department direct all questions regarding their facility to a company representative, Moore added.
In response to a series of detailed questions from the Guardian, a Case Farms spokesperson wrote that the company is “committed to continue producing food for our nation’s food supply, while taking additional safety measures to protect our employees, our company and our customers, in accordance with USDA regulations and CDC guidelines.”
Earlier this year, North Carolina’s health department had reported the names of farms with two or more positive cases, but in May replaced the names with addresses in order to “better reflect the location of the outbreak”, according to a department spokesperson.
“Why, when a nursing home has an outbreak, it’s in the paper, but when a meatpacking facility does, it’s not?” said Mac Legerton, a longtime grassroots policy advocate and co-director of the Robeson County Cooperative for Sustainable Development, and is among those who have criticized local and state governments’ approach to case reporting.
“The law needs to be that in a pandemic all outbreaks at public and private facilities are made public to protect the employees of the institutions and to inform the public.”
As of Thursday, there were 2,772 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 28 meat processing plant “clusters” around the state, the department said, but would not specify further.
North Carolina as a whole has seen a marked increase in cases and hospitalizations over the past several weeks, prompting a “concerned” Governor Roy Cooper to announce last week that the state would pause in the second phase of its reopening plan.
Demonstrators protest working conditions at a Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing facility in Minnesota. Photograph: Jeff Wheeler/APAdvertisementhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
The state requires only a few types of businesses to report outbreaks, which it defines as two or more cases, including congregate living facilities, daycare centers and schools. For all other businesses, local health departments and the state DHHS depend on companies volunteering their own data or tracking down clusters through case interviews.
But failure to disclose outbreaks demonstrates that officials and company executives are prioritizing economic interests over the wellbeing of marginalized workers and communities, Legerton said.
“That lack of information puts both employees and the public at risk,” he said.
In a letter to several of the largest meat companies last week, senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker called on the corporations to disclose infection figures in their plants.
Virginia also recently moved to create a set of safety rules to protect workers from Covid-19 – the first of its kind in the nation – following a petition from workers in the state’s poultry processing and meatpacking industries. The drafted rules, which include requiring employers to mandate social distancing and notify employees of potential exposure, would be enforceable through fines and closures.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has received nearly 350 Covid-related complaints from employees at North Carolina businesses. One business, Pilgrim’s Pride, a poultry processing plant in Sanford, was the subject of at least eight separate complaints, with workers alleging the company was not informing them of positive tests or mandating the wearing of some protective equipment. A worker there died in May.
In Robeson county – home to a large Campbell’s Soup facility, Mountaire Farms and Sanderson Farms poultry processing plants, as well as many factory farms – businesses have been generally forthcoming with the health department, according to Bill Smith, the county’s health department director.
Smith’s office received $600,000 in federal Covid funding, which it used to set up testing sites around the county and hire school nurses as contact tracers. Smith and his team have also been collaborating on daily calls with health departments from surrounding counties, as well as coordinating closely with the local Lumbee Tribe.
But companies can make this work difficult, muddying the waters for case reporting in communities where they are one of very few employers, Smith said.
“A lot of the packing places are your largest employers, therefore it’s an economic issue,” he said. “There may be pressures from them to stay out of the packing world, if you will.”
Companies also choose to weigh public health considerations alongside public relations in determining what information to release, Smith said, pointing to publicly traded giants like Sanderson Farms and Smithfield Foods, which have “a brand they’re trying to protect”.
“If you say something about Smithfield Foods, they’ll see an effect immediately: you’ll see someone not buy Smithfield in the grocery,” he said.
Still, the decision by state and county health departments to report some outbreaks and not others appears inconsistent with the need for transparency in a public health crisis, Smith noted.
“When you’re releasing nursing home names with two illnesses, yet another place that has 900 you refuse to give, there’s some disagreement there from a public health perspective,” he said.