As a society we’ve come to recognize that companion animals like dogs and cats deserve protection from abuse, and we have updated our laws to reflect this. But sadly, we’ve left farmed animals completely vulnerable to unimaginable cruelties that are considered standard practice by the meat, dairy, and egg industries.
The animals raised and killed for food are just as smart and sensitive as the dogs and cats we adore at home. Years of research have proved this. We now know that chickens can recognize more than 100 individual birds, cows form close friendships, and pigs are thought to have the intelligence of a three-year-old child.
Would we ever consider it legal to shackle a dog by her hind legs and slash open her throat? Would we allow a cat to be kept for his entire life in a cage so small that he couldn’t even turn around? Would we permit killing puppies and kittens by slamming them headfirst against concrete floors? Of course we wouldn’t. But these heinous acts are completely legal to inflict on cows, pigs, and chickens in the animal agriculture industry.
Unbelievably, there’s not a single federal law protecting animals during their lives at factory farms. What’s more, the law that’s supposed to protect animals at the slaughterhouse, the Humane Slaughter Act, excludes birds and rabbits, leaving them with virtually no protection from abuse.
The truth is that if we treated just one dog or cat the way the meat, dairy, and egg industries treat billions of animals, we’d be behind bars for animal abuse.
Over the past 70 years, the meat industry has had friends (and former employees) in the upper levels of the USDA. For instance, the current U.S. secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, was the former governor of one of the biggest poultry-producing states and the former head of several agribusiness companies. These obvious conflicts of interest, along with the meat industry’s millions of dollars in lobbying efforts, make it difficult and unlikely for lawmakers to act ethically.
At the very least, lawmakers should pass legislation that eliminates the worst forms of abuse at factory farms and allows farmed animals to move around, breathe fresh air, and engage in other natural behaviors. And if lawmakers truly cared, they would follow in the footsteps of New Jersey senator Cory Booker, who not only fights for farmed animal protections but lives his values by being vegan.
In the meantime, all of us have the power to make a difference by writing and calling our representatives, voting for lawmakers who promise to stand up for farmed animals, and switching to a compassionate vegan diet. Click here to get started!