Mon, May

God Created The Animals First


THE VIEW FROM HERE-According to Genesis, God created the “lower” animals before He created man.  Possibly there is a lesson here that has long been overlooked.  Though humans require proteins, minerals, and other forms of sustenance from various manifestations of life, if we are to endure as civilized, moral, ethical beings, perhaps we need to look at all living creatures on this planet with compassion and kindness and, perhaps, as co-equals as well.  


Humans and animals were meant to be vegetarian and are meant eventually to return to that “state of grace.”  Being carnivorous was only meant to be temporary.  Perhaps today’s vegetarians and vegans are meant to be our teachers, our role models in this new age.  In the meantime, how and what we eat needs to be considered carefully and thoughtfully. 

According to Robert Gordis, The Bible and its interpreters “prohibit exploitation [of the animals of the earth and the earth’s environment].  [The Judao-Christian-Muslim religions] … insist that man has an obligation not only to conserve the world of nature but to enhance it … All animal life and all growing and life-giving things have rights in the cosmos that man must consider, even as he strives to ensure his own survival. The war against the spoliation of nature and the pollution of the environment is therefore the command of the hour.” 

In keeping with this obligation, the actions of The Humane Farming Association (HFA), founded in 1985, have targeted factory farms which have allowed and even encouraged cruelty to the very animals from which they and their stock-holders make their enormous profits.    

Dairy cows are “imprisoned” in tie stalls (with little or no exercise and literally tied in by a neck chain), and pigs are packed so tightly behind bars that they cannot root or even shift the position of their bodies.  And yet, unwittingly, we consume the meat and dairy from animals that are severely mistreated and have no other future than that of abject misery.  They have been fed hormones and antibiotics which produce negative health effects on humans and other animals which eat these animal products.  

As we blithely go about our shopping, animals are being beaten and abused or even killed.  The HFA is trying through its investigations to educate the public to put pressure on agribusiness to alter its cruel practices.  

Do you remember the hidden video taken as fallen cows were heartlessly dragged through stalls and were subject to stun guns?  The scene was ghastly and stomach-turning!  Despite such exposés, these businesses are working intently for the Federal government to overturn current state legislation which has been enacted to put a halt to their savage practices.  Once again, it is all about the profit motive:  more animals (which suffer unconscionably) in less space, subject to technologies that quickly augment their size—all this to produce much higher dividends for investors at significantly lower costs. 

Years ago I used to make veal scaloppini for my family until one of my students brought to my attention the fact that these little baby cows are suspended for their entire lives and fed only milk products in order to keep the meat as tender as we find it in our stores.  From that day, veal was not served at our table, and I discouraged others from making veal purchases as well!  People, like my student, started a movement which has proven to be fruitful—“veal consumption is now at an all-time low.” 

After the urging of another student, I decided to buy only cage-free eggs.   At the check-out counter one day, I was patting myself on the back for being such a conscientious consumer.  I got my come-uppance from another customer who mentioned that the “cage-free” designation was misleading.  

She went on and on about how cruelly the chickens were being treated despite the labelling (I was polite but figured she was one of those fanatics).  Nevertheless, when I got home and did my due diligence, I realized that she was absolutely right!  What a doofus I had been!!  I wish I could have the opportunity to let her know just how correct she was, but I am thankful for the exchange we had because now I have seen the light! 

“Cage-free chickens” does not mean they are free to wander around a farmyard and flap their wings.  They are so packed in within a barn structure that they really cannot even move around.  They poop and pee on each other and frequently get sick.  The “cage-free rule” mandates that they have access to sunlight and yard access (farmers try to circumvent this rule by providing a little doorway that not even a small dog can pass through).  Only one chicken can leave or enter at a time.  You can only imagine what their lives are really like! 

Perhaps this is an aside, but I also remember when I took the hormone replacement therapy, Premarin (pregnant mare urine).  At first I was astonished when I learned of the ingredients in a prescribed medication that I thought I needed post-hysterectomy, but, again, when I learned of how these female horses were being treated, I stopped taking the drug.  

The Last Chance for Animals website states, “Harvested for their urine, the horses suffer terribly for the production of this drug.  They are kept continually pregnant (their foals are taken from them, after a prolonged fight by the mother, at birth and killed for food) in stalls too small for them to even turn around (remember the chickens?) in order for their urine to be collected by filthy, bulky tubing attached to their bodies.  When they can no longer reproduce quickly, they are sent to the slaughterhouse.  Their meat is then sold for human consumption or dog food.”  

Incidentally, such horses presently are not protected by our laws as many other animals are. 

Whether for food or medical purposes, no animals should be treated (or mistreated) in this way! 

HFA insists that foods that are labelled “Humanely Raised and Handled” must comply with the following demands:  “Animals have ample space, shelter, and gentle handling to limit stress.  Ample fresh water and a healthy diet of quality feed [must be supplied].  Producers must comply with food safety and environmental regulations”—to name only the most basic and fundamental standards.  Furthermore, annual independent inspections by expert inspectors and veterinarians must be a vital part of the agreement. 

What is next?  If you check out labels, you will find some brands that are stamped with the following:  “CERTIFIED HUMANE raised and handled--which meets Humane Farm Animal Care Standards, which include nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones; animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space, and the ability to engage in natural behaviors.”  However, if you cannot find such brands stocked in your markets, you can speak to the manager directly to request HFA meat, eggs, and dairy products 

Just as markets (and, therefore, agribusiness) listened to protests about how calves (veal) were being mistreated, if there are enough of us demanding humanely treated animals to provide our food products, change will happen—the farming and market industries will be transformed.  The animals will be treated as they ought, humans will benefit by consumption of healthier foods, and our consciences will be clear. 

It is up to us to do the right thing!


(Rosemary Jenkins is a Democratic activist and chair of the Northeast Valley Green Coalition. She also writes for CityWatch.)







Vol 11 Issue 100

Pub: Dec 13, 2013





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