Food and the ‘unthought-of’ questions.
In this country the animals,
have the faces of animals.
flash once in car headlights,
and are gone.
Their deaths are not elegant.
They have the faces of,
~ The Animals in That Country, by Mary Atwood (Last few lines).
With my writing I am trying to shed some light on factory farming and the questions surrounding eating. We should seriously think about where our food comes from. Currently animals are seen largely as disposable beings. When eating meat how many of you actually think about what your food was? What it was like when it was alive? How many of you don’t know, or don’t want want to know, the life of the chicken or steak you are eating? How the animal was born, how it was taken away from its parent, kept in a dark room with thousands of the same species, force fed, attacked and slaughtered. The section of the poem above highlights the view that many people take animals to be disposable; have no faces as people just don’t know what is happening or maybe don’t even care.
These questions many people will never think about, not that people are ignorant rather society has shaped and conditioned people to the point where these questions almost ‘don’t matter’ and are on a ‘I don’t want to know basis’. Maybe we think like this because the farm has been represented as idyllic to us from a young age. Or the notion of death to many is scary. Even the names of our foods are disassociated from the animals they came from, chicken is poultry, pigs are pork, cows are beef, mutton is sheep. Maybe this is because people don’t want to associate their food with pain or a living creature. From a young age we are told what to eat by parents and teachers who are informed from the media, government and scientists. The only choice many people have when they are younger about food consumption is not to eat foods that might cause harm to themselves through allergies. Factory farming has made meat a lot cheaper due to mass production and cheap living conditions (often cramped, damp and dark) and shorter life duration of animals.
- A male cow’s natural lifespan is 20 years whereas, the factory-farmed lifespan is 3 to 16 weeks.
- A dairy cow’s (female) natural lifespan is 20 whereas, the factory-farmed lifespan is 5-6 years though only a small percentage reach this age due to exhaustion.
- A chicken’s natural lifespan is 7 years, whereas the factory-farmed lifespan is one day for male chicks of egg producing hens. Six weeks for broiler chickens.
These are appalling statistic in my mind, retrieved from animalliberationfront.com where most animals lives are drastically shortened. I clearly have an emotional response when I read this stuff due to my love for animals and that’s why I became a vegetarian and why many others become vegetarian or vegan too. I am not saying however, if you don’t feel bad, you are inhumane and a horrible person rather the question “Do you know how your food has come to be on your plate?” should be thought about a lot more.
Twitter and Instagram: @JamieArathoon