TIME magazine just published an article that begins:
“Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won’t bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He’s fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he’ll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population.”
Twenty years ago, people would flat-out deny the existence of factory farming and the routine animal abuse in slaughterhouses, laboratories, and other places of animal exploitation. They’d say the videos from animal rights investigators were “faked.”
Now, they don’t deny it, they defend it.
As great as this TIME article is at pointing out the atrocities of modern animal agriculture – the danger to human health, the animal suffering, the environmental consequences – it concludes in much the same manner as Food, Inc: laying all the blame and responsibility on the consumer. It basically concludes that if Americans weren’t such penny-pinchers, there’d be no such thing as factory farming.
What’s worse, rather than suggesting a truly sustainable alternative: veganism (that also happens to be cheap!), the article implies that if only consumers spent a little more money on dead animal flesh then everything would be OK. Nah, no need for government intervention or real activism, the so-called “free market” can fix everything. If everyone were just like The Omnivore’s Dilemma‘s style hero, Niman, we could have our cow and eat it too.
Only, there is no omnivore’s dilemma. There is only the omnivore’s stubborn refusal to go vegan.
Drastic times call for drastic measures and these are drastic times. Paying a few more pennies for free-range chicken won’t solve today’s urgent animal welfare, environmental, and diet-related health problems. Save your pennies and opt for beans and rice rather than the flesh of dead animals. That, and only that, will make a truly significant difference for you, the planet, and for animals.
Hat tip: Mr. Marcus.