Why Are Cows Meat, Pigs Pork, Turkeys Turkey, and Tunas Tuna?

Marc Bekoff Ph.D.

Animal Emotions https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animal-emotions/202006/why-are-cows-meat-pigs-pork-turkeys-turkey-and-tunas-tuna

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.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

 Tito White, with permission

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.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.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.

China’s Wet Markets, America’s Factory Farming

Customers select seafood at a wet market in Dandong, Liaoning Province, China, in 2017. (Philip Wen/Reuters)

They’re more alike than not in their violations of moral common sense.


Although no government is better than China’s at making troublesome people disappear, a strange leniency has been accorded vendors at the country’s live-animal meat markets, who by most accounts gave us the pandemic and yet, reports the Daily Mail, have lately been allowed to set up shop again. China’s coronavirus lockdown is over, authorities have encouraged celebrations of “victory,” and citizens may once again go about their food shopping amid the cries and mayhem of animal slaughter. Ahh, back to normal life!In these parts, we’re told, you’re not really celebrating unless there’s bat, pangolin, cat, or dog meat on the table — the latter, notes the Daily Mail, “a traditional ‘warming’ winter dish.”  Reporter George Knowles, writing late last month, provides one of the milder accounts of scenes that will quickly exhaust anyone’s supply of culturally sensitive euphemisms, describing one of the markets — also known as “wet markets,” where both live and dead animals are on offer — in China’s southwestern city of Guilin: “Terrified dogs and cats crammed into rusty cages. Bats and scorpions offered for sale as traditional medicine. Rabbits and ducks slaughtered and skinned side by side on a stone floor covered with blood, filth, and animal remains.”

If you’re up for a few further details, we have travel writer Paula Froelich, in a recent New York Post column, recalling how in the Asian live-animal markets she has visited the doomed creatures “stare back at you.” When their turn comes, she writes,

the animals that have not yet been dispatched by the butcher’s knife make desperate bids to escape by climbing on top of each other and flopping or jumping out of their containers (to no avail). At least in the wet areas [where marine creatures are sold], the animals don’t make a sound. The screams from mammals and fowl are unbearable and heartbreaking.

The People’s Republic has supposedly banned the exotic-meat trade, and one major city, Shenzhen, has proscribed dog and cat meat as well. In reality, observes a second Daily Mail correspondent, anonymously reporting from the city of Dongguan, “the markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus.” Nothing has changed, except in one feature: “The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures, which would never have happened before.”

Lest we hope too much for some post-pandemic stirring of conscience, consider the Chinese government’s idea of a palliative for those suffering from the coronavirus. As the crisis spread, apparently some fast-thinking experts in “traditional medicine” at China’s National Health Commission turned to an ancient remedy known as Tan Re Qing, adding it to their official list of recommended treatments. The potion consists chiefly of bile extracted from bears. The more fortunate of these bears are shot in the wild for use of their gallbladders. The others, across China and Southeast Asia, are captured and “farmed” by the thousands, in a process that involves their interminable, year-after-year confinement in fit-to-size cages, interrupted only by the agonies of having the bile drained. Do an image search on “bear bile farming” sometime when you’re ready to be reminded of what hellish animal torments only human stupidity, arrogance, and selfishness could devise.

If one abomination could yield an antidote for the consequences of another, Tan Re Qing would surely be just the thing to treat a virus loosed in the pathogenic filth and blood-spilling of Wuhan’s live market. There’s actually a synthetic alternative to the bile acids, but Tradition can be everything in these matters, and devotees insist that the substance must come from a bear, even as real medical science rates the whole concoction at somewhere between needless and worthless. President Xi Jinping has promoted such traditional medicines as a “treasure of Chinese civilization.” In this case, the keys to the treasure open small, squalid cages in dark rooms, where the suffering of innocent creatures goes completely disregarded. And perhaps right there, in the willfulness and hardness of heart of all such practices, is the source of the trouble that started in China.

Already, in the Western media, chronologies of the pandemic have taken to passing over details of the live-animal markets, which have caused viral outbreaks before and would all warrant proper judgment in any case. News coverage picks up the story with the Chinese government’s cover-up of early coronavirus cases and its silencing of the heroic Wuhan doctors and nurses who tried to warn us. To brush past the live markets in fear of seeming “xenophobic,” “racist,” or unduly judgmental of other people and other ways is, however, to lose sight of perhaps the most crucial fact of all. We don’t know the endpoint of this catastrophe, but we are pretty certain that its precise point of origin was what Dr. Anthony Fauci politely calls “that unusual human–animal interface” of the live markets, which he says should all be shut down immediately — presumably including the markets quietly tolerated in our own country. In other words, the plague began with savage cruelty to animals.

Discussion of the live-animal markets is another of those points where moral common sense encounters the slavishly politically correct, though it’s not as if we’re dealing here with Asia’s most sensitive types anyway. No Western critic need worry about hurting the feelings or reputations of people who maximize the pain and stress of dogs in the belief that this freshens the flavor of the meat, and who then kill them at the market as the other dogs watch. Customers of such people aren’t likely to feel the sting of our disapproval either.

About the many customers and suppliers in Asia, and especially in China, of exotic fare, endless ancient remedies, and carvings and trinkets made of ivory, the best that can be said is that these men and women are no more representative of their nations than are the riffraff running the meat markets. Their demands and appetites have caused a merciless pillaging of wildlife across the earth — everything that moves a “living resource,” no creature rare or stealthy enough to escape their gluttony or vanity. Of late even donkeys, such peaceable and unoffending creatures, have been rounded up by the millions in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America for shipment and slaughter, all to satisfy demand for yet another of China’s traditional-medicine manias.

Easy to blame for all of this is the government of China. Authorities took forever, for example, to enforce prohibitions on ivory carving, despite an unquestioned competence in carrying out swift crackdowns. And in general, at every level, the government tends to tolerate a culture of cruelty, or else to actively promote it at the prodding of lucrative industries, both legal and illicit. But the problem runs deeper than that, even as many younger Chinese, to their enormous credit, have tried to organize against the ivory trade, the wet markets, and other depravities in their midst.

In the treatment of animals and in safeguarding human health, there are elementary standards to which all must answer. The challenge to clear thinking, as Melissa Chen writes in Spectator USA,

is to avoid falling into the trap of cultural relativism. It’s perfectly appropriate to criticize China’s rampant consumption of exotic animals, lack of hygiene standards and otherwise risky behavior that puts people at risk for zoonotic infections. Until these entrenched behaviors based on cultural or magical beliefs are divorced from Chinese culture, wet wildlife markets will linger as time-bombs ready to set off the next pandemic.

Acknowledging that Western societies have every moral reason to condemn the barbarism and recklessness of the live-animal markets only invites, however, a tougher question: Do we have the moral standing? And if any of us are guilty of blind cultural prejudice or of a smug sense of superiority toward Chinese practices, a moment’s serious thought will quickly set us straight.

When the Daily Mail describes how Chinese guards at the live-animal market now “try to stop anyone from taking pictures,” who does that remind us of? How about our own livestock companies, whose entire mode of operation these days is systematic concealment by efforts to criminalize the taking of pictures in or around their factory farms and slaughterhouses? The foulest live-animal-market slayer in China, Vietnam, Laos, or elsewhere would be entitled to ask what our big corporations are afraid the public might see in photographic evidence, or what’s really the difference between his trade and theirs except walls, machinery, and public-relations departments.

If you watch online videos of the wet markets, likewise, it’s striking how the meat shoppers just go on browsing, haggling, chatting, and even laughing, some with their children along. Were it not for the horrors and whimpers in the background, the scene could be a pleasant morning at anyone’s local farmer’s market. As the camera follows them from counter to counter, you keep thinking What’s wrong with these people? — except that it’s not so easy, rationally, to find comparisons that work in our favor.

No, we in the Western world don’t get involved while grim-faced primitives execute and skin animals for meat. We have companies with people of similar temperament to handle everything for us. And there’s none of that “staring back” that the Post’s Paula Froelich describes, because, in general, we keep the sadness and desperation of those creatures as deeply suppressed from conscious thought as possible. An etiquette of denial pushes the subject away, leaving it all for others to bear. Addressing a shareholders’ meeting of Tyson Foods in 2006, one worker from a slaughterhouse in Sioux City, Iowa, unburdened himself: “The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. Pigs down on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them — beat them to death with a pipe. I can’t care.”

Following the only consistent rule in both live-animal markets and industrial livestock agriculture — that the most basic animal needs are always to be subordinated to the most trivial human desires — this process yields the meats that people crave so much, old favorites like bacon, veal, steak, and lamb that customers must have, no matter how these are obtained. When the pleasures of food become an inordinate desire, forcing demands without need or limit and regardless of the moral consequences, there’s a word for that, and the fault is always easier to see in foreigners with more free-roaming tastes in flesh. But listen carefully to how these foods or other accustomed fare are spoken of in our culture, and the mindset of certain Asians — those ravenous, inflexible folks who will let nothing hinder their next serving of pangolin scales or winter dish of dog — no longer seems a world away.

We in the West don’t eat pangolins, turtles, civets, peacocks, monkeys, horses, foxes, and wolf cubs — that’s all a plus. But for the animals we do eat, we have sprawling, toxic, industrial “mass-confinement” farms that look like concentration camps. National “herds” and “flocks” that all would expire in their misery but for a massive use of antibiotics, among other techniques, to maintain their existence amid squalor and disease — an infectious “time bomb” closer to home as bacterial and viral pathogens gain in resistance. And a whole array of other standard practices like the “intensive confinement” of pigs, in gestation cages that look borrowed from Asia’s bear-bile farms; the bulldozing of lame “downer cows”; and “maceration” of unwanted chicks, billions routinely tossed into grinders. All of which leave us very badly compromised as any model in the decent treatment of animals.

Such influence as we have, in fact, is usually nothing to be proud of. It made for a perfect partnership when, for instance, one of the most disreputable of all our factory-farming companies, Smithfield Foods, was acquired in 2013 by a Chinese firm, in keeping with some state-run, five-year plan of the People’s Republic to refine agricultural techniques and drive up meat production. Now, thanks to American innovation, Smithfield-style, the Chinese can be just as rotten to farm animals as we are — and just as sickly from buying into the worst elements of the Western diet.

In China and Southeast Asia, they have still not received our divine revelation in the West that human beings shall not eat or inflict extreme abuse on dogs but that all atrocities to pigs are as nothing. They’re moving in our culinary direction, however, and more than half the world’s factory-farmed pigs are now in China and neighboring countries. In the swine-fever contagion spreading across that region right now — addressed as usual by mass cullings: gassing tens of millions of pigs or burying them alive — our industrial animal-agriculture system is leaving its mark, while providing yet further evidence that factory farms are all pandemic risks themselves.

How many diseases, cullings, burial pits, and bans on photographing these places even at their wretched best will we need before realizing that the entire system is profoundly in error, at times even wicked, and that nothing good can ever come of it? Perhaps the live-animal markets of China, with all the danger and ruin they have spread, will help us to see those awful scenes as what they are, just variants of unnatural, unnecessary, and unworthy practices that every society and culture would be better off without.

Plagues, as we’re all discovering, have a way of prompting us to take stock of our lives and to remember what really matters. If, while we’re at, we begin to feel in this time of confinement and fear a little more regard for the lives of animals, a little more compassion, that would be at least one good sign for a post-pandemic world.

MATTHEW SCULLY is the author of DOMINION: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. A former literary editor of National Review and senior speechwriter to President George W. Bush, he lives in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

What Parents Need to Know About Factory Animal Farms


What Parents Need to Know About Factory Animal Farms
By Ketura Persellin

You probably care a lot about how your fruits and vegetables are grown. You
may not think as much about where your family’s animal protein comes from,
but the conditions in which most meat, poultry and even dairy is produced
may give you and your kids pause — even those most likely to clamor for yet
another burger or hot dog.

Americans eat a lot of meat and poultry — 27 billion pounds of beef were
produced last year alone, most of it in “factory farms
All those animals produce lots of manure — quite literally tons of it. The
775 animal operations in the Maumee Basin of Western Lake Erie alone
produce 5.5 million tons of manure each year. The coastal plain of North
Carolina has 1,500 factory farms that produce as much as 4 billion gallons
of wet swine waste and 400,000 tons of dry poultry waste.

The mountains of waste smell terrible, but the stench is far from the worst
problem it creates. Bacteria
such as from hog feces
can get into the homes and lawns of neighbors and endanger their physical
and mental health. And the problem is getting worse
From 2005 to 2018, the amount of manure produced in the Maumee Basin rose
by more than 40 percent.

All that waste has to go somewhere. Manure from large-scale animal farms
runs off into groundwater, lakes, rivers and streams. It pollutes drinking
water, hurts air quality and triggers tremendous stress for local
residents. That may be one reason life expectancy
North Carolina communities near hog farms is particularly low, even after
adjusting for other socioeconomic factors.

Kids may love poop jokes, but the production and consumption of animal
protein is no laughing matter. You and your children might find the
conditions the animals that you eat are raised in outrageous and disgusting
— perhaps enough to drive even the most enthusiastic carnivore into the
ranks of committed vegans. The animals live in crowded, dirty conditions
often infested with flies and rodents. The water they drink or that’s used
to wash down the facility can get contaminated with any number of these

Here are a few other things to consider – and point out to the kids when
they clamor for yet another burger, hot dog or order of chicken McNuggets:

– Not all meat is produced in a factory farm. By buying certain kinds of
meat, you can avoid supporting a great deal of the harm of factory farms.
Look <https://www.ewg.org/research/labeldecoder/> for grass-fed,
pasture-raised or “free range” meat in lean cuts that have no antibiotics
or hormones and are certified organic. Check out EWG’s label decoder
<https://www.ewg.org/research/labeldecoder/> for help.

– It’s not just livestock raised for meat that’s raised in
industrial-scale animal operations — dairy cows are too. So if you’re not a
fan of large-scale animal production, you’ll may want to change your dairy
consumption habits, too. Buying organic milk, cheese and other dairy
products will be better for your family’s health and for the environment.

– Crowded living conditions in factory farms make animals sick, which
has driven the overuse of antibiotics for livestock. This has led to the
development of strains of bacteria in animals and humans that are
resistant <https://www.ewg.org/research/superbugs/> to life-saving
medicine — the last thing most parents want.

– Manure runoff contains chemicals that algae feed on, such as nitrates
and phosphorus. They’re responsible for the toxic algae blooms that
pollute <https://www.ewg.org/interactive-maps/toxicalgalblooms/> many
lakes and rivers (and sometimes make them off limits for swimming and
fishing). If you’ve seen “Do Not Swim” signs recently at the beach or your
area lake, or greenish scum floating on the water’s surface, you’re often
looking at the direct consequence of industrial-scale animal production.

– Factory farms aren’t going away any time soon. The amount of red meat
and poultry consumed in the U.S. fell after the Great Recession of 2008 but
rebounded and was projected to reach 222.2 pounds
<https://www.globalagriculture.org/whats-new/news/en/32921.html> per
person per year in 2018. It’s expected to go up in the rest of the world,
too. Dairy consumption in this country is also on the rise. Your family can
do its part to avoid adding to the problem. For starters, consider going
meatless <https://www.meatlessmonday.com/> (and without dairy) once a

*If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they
went. (Will Rogers)*

*the wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. he is in front
of it – axel munthe*

*”Never doubt that a small group of dedicated citizens can change the
world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead*

*Until every cage is empty. Until every animal is free*

Vets Refuse to Treat Farm Sanctuary Animals Because They Disagree With Their Stance Against Animal Agriculture

Lead Image Source : Spring Farm Sanctuary

German Lawsuit Takes Aim at Climate Impacts of Agriculture

Industrial agriculture has grown in Germany, increasing nitrate and methane pollutionA lawsuit targets nitrate and methane pollution from industrial agriculture in Germany. Photo credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By Ucilia WangA new lawsuit in Germany could provide lessons for cutting emissions from agriculture, which has largely escaped air quality regulations or climate lawsuits in the United States despite its large greenhouse gas footprint.

Environmental Action Germany, an advocacy group that filed the lawsuit last month, is taking on the German government for failing to lower the amount of nitrates seeping into the surface and groundwater, mostly from large-scale farming operations.

While the lawsuit aims to force the government to tighten its nitrate regulations, it comes with a larger goal to limit factory farming, said Remo Klinger, an attorney at Geulen & Klinger, which is representing Environmental Action Germany in the case. This would in turn combat climate change because those large agricultural operations emit large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“A reduction in animals is one of the main elements of reducing nitrates,” said Klinger, who noted that farmers, as in the U.S., wield tremendous political influence in Germany. “The high number of animals is linked to climate change because of their methane emissions.”

Nitrate pollution has a direct link to methane emissions. High nitrate levels in ground and surface water typically comes from excessive use of fertilizers and poor management of animal manure, especially at giant, industrialized farms that raise hundreds or thousands of animals in a confined space and require giant holding ponds to store the manure.

Dairy and cattle farms in particular are a rich source of methane. Animals burp methane while digesting food, and their manure also releases methane as it decomposes. Methane excels at trapping heat and accelerates global warming more quickly than carbon dioxide. In the U.S., raising livestock is the largest source of methane emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Worldwide, agriculture is estimated to produce 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.

Environmental Action Germany wants to tackle the problem by forcing the government to lower nitrate levels by placing a lower cap on the amount of manure that each farm can accommodate per hectare of land each year, Klinger said. Shrinking these farms would lower their methane emissions.

Germany’s level of nitrate pollution is the second highest in the European Union, trailing only Malta. A government study in 2016 showed that 28 percent of the nitrate monitoring stations showed nitrate levels in groundwater exceeding the EU limit of 50 milligrams per liter.

The European Commission sued Germany in 2016 over the high nitrate levels and won a ruling from the European Court of Justice in June. Germany, which amended its nitrate regulations in 2017, said its new rules now help it comply with the EU limit. But critics, such as Environmental Action Germany, said loopholes in the new regulations make them ineffective.

The U.S. is also lax when it comes to minimizing the environmental impacts of industrial farms, said Jonathan Lovvorn, chief counsel of the Humane Society of the United States and a lecturer at Harvard Law School. Only farms that reach a certain size are subject to the federal Clean Water Act, and they mostly escape oversight under the Clean Air Act.

While plenty of lawsuits have been filed against farms over air and water quality, they have largely been unsuccessful historically, Lovvorn said.

A few recent victories include a $473.5 million judgment against a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods last week. The company lost a federal nuisance lawsuit in which the neighbors of its three giant hog farms in North Carolina said they couldn’t stand the stench and flies from open pits of animal waste or the rumbling of company trucks that pick up hogs for slaughter in the middle of the night.

Few suits have attempted to challenge these farms’ methane emissions and climate impacts.

“Agricultural emissions are completely unaddressed by federal statutes,” Lovvorn said. “It’s a ticking time bomb for the animal agricultural industry. Sooner or later they will be called into reckoning for the fact that they put a substantial amount of emissions into the atmosphere.”

Lovvorn says the ongoing lawsuits filed by cities in the U.S. against fossil fuel companies could also offer lessons for battling large agriculture companies’ climate footprint.

“My suspicion is people are watching the cities’ climate cases in the energy sector closely and likely thinking about to what extent any favorable rulings could provide a footing to do something about agricultural climate emissions,” he said.

As is the case in Germany, the agriculture industry holds a lot of political clout, making it difficult to pass regulations to change farming practices. That influence stems from an idealized view of farmers as wholesome, self-reliant owners of small plots, even though family-owned farms are disappearing and giving way to industrialized farms, Lovvorn said.

California, the largest dairy-producing state in the country, was the first state to create programs to cut methane emissions from farms, part of its larger effort to address climate change. Last year, New York announced a methane reduction plan that require state agencies to evaluate and develop programs to cut methane in agriculture.

California’s program provides money to buy digesters that convert methane into biogas. It also supports a smaller program that finances better manure management practices at industrial farms, from changing how manure is collected and processed to taking animals out of confinement and letting them roam in a pasture.

These two programs are voluntary because the state won’t start regulating methane emissions from dairy and other livestock farms until 2024. The state aims to reduce methane emissions by 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030.

The larger focus on promoting digesters has its critics. Tara Ritter, senior program associate for climate and rural communities at the Institute for Minnesota-based Agricultural Trade and Policy, said the effort would still allow factory farms to operate and doesn’t adequately address the water and air quality problems that come from raising so many animals in a confined space.

“California is trying to be a leader on climate change, yet it just slaps a lot of digesters on farms,” Ritter said.

The Meaty Side of Climate Change


“Carbon majors,” like big oil and gas companies, have long been the focus of efforts to curb climate change and stem rising temperatures. And yet, while energy giants like Exxon and Shell have drawn fire for their roles in warming the planet, the corporate meat and dairy industries have largely avoided scrutiny.

BERLIN – Last year, three of the world’s largest meat companies – JBS, Cargill, and Tyson Foods – emitted more greenhouse gases than France, and nearly as much as some big oil companies. And yet, while energy giants like Exxon and Shell have drawn fire for their role in fueling climate change, the corporate meat and dairy industries have largely avoided scrutiny. If we are to avert environmental disaster, this double standard must change.

To bring attention to this issue, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade PolicyGRAIN, and Germany’s Heinrich Böll Foundationrecently teamed up to study the “supersized climate footprint” of the global livestock trade. What we found was shocking. In 2016, the world’s 20 largest meat and dairy companies emitted more greenhouse gases than Germany. If these companies were a country, they would be the world’s seventh-largest emitter.

Obviously, mitigating climate change will require tackling emissions from the meat and dairy industries. The question is how.

Around the world, meat and dairy companies have become politically powerful entities. The recent corruption-related arrests of two JBS executives, the brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista, pulled back the curtain on corruption in the industry. JBS is the largest meat processor in the world, earning nearly $20 billion more in 2016 than its closest rival, Tyson Foods. But JBS achieved its position with assistance from the Brazilian Development Bank, and apparently, by bribing more than 1,800 politicians. It is no wonder, then, that greenhouse-gas emissions are low on the company’s list of priorities. In 2016, JBS, Tyson and Cargill emitted 484 million tons of climate-changing gases, 46 million tons more than BP, the British energy giant.

Meat and dairy industry insiders push hard for pro-production policies, often at the expense of environmental and public health. From seeking to block reductions in nitrous oxide and methane emissions, to circumventing obligations to reduce air, water, and soil pollution, they have managed to increase profits while dumping pollution costs on the public.

One consequence, among many, is that livestock production now accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. That is a bigger share than the world’s entire transportation sector. Moreover, much of the growth in meat and dairy production in the coming decades is expected to come from the industrial model. If this growth conforms to the pace projected by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, our ability to keep temperatures from rising to apocalyptic levels will be severely undermined.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, last month, several UN agencies were directed, for the first time ever, to cooperate on issues related to agriculture, including livestock management. This move is welcome for many reasons, but especially because it will begin to expose the conflicts of interest that are endemic in the global agribusiness trade.

To skirt climate responsibility, the meat and dairy industries have long argued that expanding production is necessary for food security. Corporate firms, they insist, can produce meat or milk more efficiently than a pastoralist in the Horn of Africa or a small-scale producer in India.

Unfortunately, current climate policies do not refute this narrative, and some even encourage increased production and intensification. Rather than setting targets for the reduction of total industry-related emissions, many current policies create incentives for firms to squeeze more milk from each dairy cow and bring beef cattle to slaughter faster. This necessitates equating animals to machinery that can be tweaked to produce more with less through technological fixes, and ignoring all of this model other negative effects.

California’s experience is instructive. Pursuing one of the world’s first efforts to regulate agricultural methane, the state government has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions in cattle processing. But California is currently addressing the issue by financing programs that support mega-dairies, rather than small, sustainable operators. Such “solutions” have only worsened the industry’s already-poor record on worker and animal welfare, and exacerbated adverse environmental and health-related effects.

Solutions do exist. For starters, governments could redirect public money from factory farming and large-scale agribusiness to smaller, ecologically focused family farms. Governments could also use procurement policies to help build markets for local products and encourage cleaner, more vibrant farm economies.

Many cities around the world are already basing their energy choices on a desire to tackle climate change. Similar criteria could shape municipalities’ food policies, too. For example, higher investment in farm-to-hospital and farm-to-school programs would ensure healthier diets for residents, strengthen local economies, and reduce the climate impact of the meat and dairy industries.

Dairy and meat giants have operated with climate impunity for far too long. If we are to halt global temperature spikes and avert an ecological crisis, consumers and governments must do more to create, support, and strengthen environmentally conscious producers. That would be good for our health – and for the health of our planet.

NY Times Editorial: There’s a grim reality behind your Thanksgiving turkey

Observing an annual pre-Thanksgiving rite, President Trump pardoned two big white fluffy turkeys Tuesday in a photo op at the White House. (Named Drumstick and Wishbone, the birds will end up at an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech.) That leaves 46 million other turkeys that won’t get pardoned. Instead, they’ll wind up on someone’s dinner table during this holiday season, a fate that is expected to befall about 245 million gobblers all told this year. And none of them will make the journey from farm to table via the Willard InterContinental Hotel, where Drumstick and Wishbone hung out before Drumstick was ceremoniously presented to Trump.

No animals raised on factory farms are kept and killed under worse conditions than turkeys and chickens, which make up most of the animals raised for food in the U.S. Nearly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food. And because poultry is exempt from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces, there are not even minimum federal standards governing how they live or die.

Turkeys and so-called broiler chickens are genetically bred to grow fast (to satisfy our love for breast meat) and, typically, grow so big that they can barely walk by the time they are killed. As a result, they can suffer from painful skeletal disorders and leg deformities. The vast majority spend their short lives (about 47 days for chickens) in artificially lit, windowless, barren warehouse barns. So that turkeys won’t peck one another in these crowded barns, their beaks are painfully trimmed.

When it’s time to slaughter them, the live birds are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt, paralyzed by electrified water and then dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades. The birds are supposed to be stunned unconscious by the electrified water, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the birds miss the blades and end up tumbling into the tanks of scalding water, where they drown. These methods are so cruel that they would be prohibited by federal welfare laws — if the animals in question were cows or pigs.

These are the grim realities behind Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving meal. But there are ways to make life and death somewhat better for the turkeys that wind up on your table. Of course, we could all just eat less turkey and chicken, which would reduce the demand for these animals. But to make a bigger impact, the major buyers of chicken and turkey meat need to push their suppliers to adopt less grisly practices.

The Humane Society of the U.S. has launched a campaign to get producers to pledge to raise healthier, less bloated birds, to provide them with better living conditions — more space, more stimulating environments and more sunlight — and, perhaps most important, to render the birds unconscious before they are shackled and slaughtered. The campaign also seeks to persuade buyers to obtain meat only from producers that honor this pledge. Meanwhile, Temple Grandin, the animal science professor known for designing more humane procedures for slaughtering beef cattle, has called for “controlled atmosphere stunning,” a process of using gas to make the birds unconscious before they get shackled for slaughter.

Installing new procedures takes time and money. All the buyers and producers that have signed on to the Humane Society campaign have agreed to fully convert to a new system by 2024. Companies should be held to that time frame, and more should be encouraged to take that pledge. If enough consumers demand it, companies will do it. That’s not too much to ask for the sake of the bird you’ll be carving up on Thanksgiving.

Turkeys – Who Are They?

*Karen Davis Talks “Turkey” at UVA Nov. 15*

*Turkeys – Who Are They?
<https://www.facebook.com/events/185118602045200/>, University of Virginia,
Charlottesville, VA. *
*A presentation by Karen Davis in Brooks Hall Nov. 15 at 6pm. Sponsored by
*Justice Advocates. All are welcome!*

Sanctuary workers such as myself know that turkeys are intelligent,
keenly alert birds with highly developed senses and sensibilities. Turkey
mothers are superb parents who will fight to the death to protect their
The idea that wild turkeys are “smart” and domesticated turkeys are “dumb”
facilitates a view that turkey hunting is a benign collaboration between a
stalker and a “savvy” partner, and that turkeys bred for food are
“adapted” to factory farms.

In my talk, I draw attention to the moral miasma surrounding the
turkey, the ritual taunting by the media each year and ask – what if this
mean-spirited foreplay and blood sacrifice were taken away? What elements of
Thanksgiving remain? Karen Davis, PhD, is president of United Poultry
and the author of *More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual,
*Reality* published by Lantern Books and available from UPC

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes
the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
Don’t just switch from beef to chicken. Go Vegan.
http://www.UPC-online.org/ http://www.twitter.com/upcnews

View this article online

Missing Piglets, The FBI and The Revolving Door

Many thanks to The Intercept:
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Veda Stram
October 2017

Some “factory-farmed” piglets...

I have been a vegan and animal rights activist since January 1989 and am RELIEVED to read this absolutely amazing and thorough post from The Intercept: The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms.

Thanks to The Intercept for this thorough representation of the links between abusing someone for profit AND ignoring reality for profit AND the revolving door of governmental and industry corruption that profit from ABUSE!

Too many people have been claiming for decades that animal activists are “exaggerating” the horrors animals endure because people choose their taste bud and tradition preferences over civility and decency.

We are now into too many generations of many humans eating animal parts and pieces and secretions several times EVERY day. I am certain there is a provable connection between the eating of the psychological and biological RAGE those animals endure and the rise of violence in this world AND the lack of concern for “others.”

Whether or not there IS that provable connection about ‘eating rage,’ then there is the worse realization that too many people continue to CHOOSE to pay someone to brutalize and slaughter someone because they want to eat parts and pieces of their dead tortured bodies. Or how about paying industries to brutalize and slaughter someones because other someones want their oil, their diamonds, their land, their water?

If you eat “other” animals because you get some kind of personal gratification, what sets you apart from those humans/industries that destroy wild animals, water, air, land for personal/corporate financial gratification?

This MUST END! Being vegan is not a diet, it is not about what/who you eat, it is about CHOOSING civility over domination and violence.

Veganism IS the possibility of a world that works for every one and every thing, with no one and nothing left out.


Why I Choose Not to Hunt

FreeImages.com/Kenn Kiser 


I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast and will gleefully take on any challenge that nature can throw at me: scaling ever higher mountain peaks, hiking across continents or whitewater rafting. Overcoming my fears and pushing the limitations of my body past what I thought was possible—that’s the best feeling of victory that I can imagine. My trophies are the blisters on my feet and the sight of a sunrise from 14,000 feet above sea level captured on my iPhone. I don’t need a head on my wall or to watch an animal needlessly bleed to death in order to feed my ego.

I’m tired of hearing the same defensive arguments from hunters, who actually constitute only 5 percent of U.S. adults. (They’re just really loud.) Look, if killing cornered animals with enough firepower to take out a small nation compensates for the lack of power that you feel in the rest of your life, just say so. But don’t perpetuate myths about hunting that don’t hold up. My favorites of the bunch include the following:

  1. It’s better to eat animals who lived in the wild their entire lives than it is to eat animals from a factory farm.

    This argument confounds several issues. First, anyone with a brain knows that the factory-farming system is a problem for the animals, the environment, and our health. Eating almost anything is a better option. But let’s drop the BS: Hunters are not killing animals primarily to feed their families. Meat from a kill is a byproduct, yes, but hunting is a “sport”—and an expensive one at that. And I’m not just talking about the $10,000-a-head safari hunters—big-game hunters actually spent more than $4 billion in 2011 on “special equipment” (items such as dune buggies and snowmobiles) and another half-billion on taxidermy alone. Tell me that’s all in the name of putting good-quality food on the table. A third of all hunters go for small game, as in squirrels and raccoons—and I just don’t believe that grilled ‘possum is being served at 4 million dinner tables.

  2. Hunting is necessary to keep down the population of “pests.”

    Let’s not forget that we are encroaching on land that was the home range of those “pests” in the first place by building highways, developments and strip malls. When we take more and more land away from animals, of course they’re going to venture onto “our” roads and farms. A much more humane way of dealing with the problem is through sterilization, which has been proved to work by ecologists. Hunting actually increases the population problem by killing off the oldest male animals for their trophy quality while leaving the females and young to—guess what?—expand the population.

  3. Kids should learn early that nature is harsh.

    Yes, animals experience pain and suffering. But they also have complex lives that include time for play, tenderness, and care. Watching dolphins leap into the air from a kayak just a few feet away can teach far more about the natural world than shooting a frightened animal with a high-powered rifle can. I want to teach my kids about respecting all life and not taking what isn’t theirs just as much as I want to teach them about keen observation and physical endurance. Besides, killing animals doesn’t teach kids that nature is cruel—it teaches them that humans are cruel. And sadly, that’s a lesson that kids will learn all too soon anyway.