“If Slaughterhouses had glass walls everyone would be vegetarian”
Everyone loves bacon. It seems like every day there is a new bacon phenomenon or a new way to eat the mouth-watering breakfast food. Some vegetarians even have claimed that bacon was the hardest thing to give up on their journey. One of my friends who has been a vegetarian for four years explained how she still is tempted by it! It seems that these days, everything tastes better with bacon. To me, when I see bacon, I imagine pigs.
There is so much more to bacon than everyone seems to believe. Besides its perfect combo between a savory and crunchy treat, the work put into its creation is much more brutal that we can imagine. On factory farms, pigs are treated with cruelty and violence. Violence surrounds us, experiencing and observing it seems to be inevitable. However, this is becoming more and more questionable as it seems that this violence is making us numb to the reality of violence in our world. With the combination of these two quarters of learning in Critical Thinking and Writing, I have concluded that there is a certain attraction behind violence that allows us to glamorize our dominance over animals we can eat, specifically pigs.
In Eating Animals, we read about the horrendous violence factory farmers used against animals in the process of producing meat. We learned that factory farm workers experience torturing animals in their everyday jobs. As we saw in interviews, they were immediately taken aback by the treatment of animals but then soon learned that this is the way things were and were surely numb to it after continuing their work. Think about watching Holocaust videos or images in a class about history, specifically World War II. Indeed, these images are horrific yet how many times would it take for us to watch these videos and see these alarming images before we don’t flinch or feel uncomfortable? I believe it is many less than we think. This is the same process these workers go through when they begin at this industry. As disgusting as it is, every factory-farmed animal is, as a practice, treated in ways that would be illegal if it were a dog or a cat (Foer). Foer truly addresses the issues of how farm animals are “overcrowded, over medicated and sick and the implications of this for us, the people eating the animals” (BERNSTEIN). In some cases, we imagine pigs roaming freely in the wild or even safe in farms with loving owners. This is far from the truth. PETA explains that, “Only pigs in movies spend their lives running across sprawling pastures and relaxing in the sun. On any given day in the U.S., there are more than 65 million pigs on factory farms, and 110 million are killed for food each year” (Pigs). Pigs must be transported most of the time and are placed in small crowded areas for long periods of time. “In extremely crowded conditions, piglets are prone to stress-related behavior such as cannibalism and tail-biting, so farmers often chop off piglets’ tails and use pliers to break off the ends of their teeth—without giving them any painkillers” (PETA). In addition to being physically abused, there is also much more at hand. Remember the swine flu? Pigs are so easily able to become ill due to the conditions they live in. Factory farmed pigs are suffering from immense pain and no one seems to be doing anything about it because we are too busy with the glamorization of the edible parts of pigs.
It is easy to spot trends among the American public. We display our dominance over animals through trends such as the “bacon trend.” This is one of the most common trend as we look at food porn accounts. You “see bacon T-shirts, bacon candy, bacon wallets. Some products [are] good: Chocolate chip cookies laced with caramelized pieces of bacon from Manhattan’s Milk & Cookies Bakery are a great thing. Some [are] awful: bacon perfume and bacon air freshener, to name two” (Ozersky). I came into college as a hesitant vegetarian. After the first few weeks of Eating Animals, I realized the importance behind my decisions. However, people continually would judge as I did not eat what they ate. I went against the trends. It seems like the bacon obsession will never end. Like a naive parent, I believe a main reason for this is that people tend to ignore the truth about things they love.
The problem truly lies in two different believes. The first is that many people display ignorance in where their food comes from. Even if they are told, they choose to ignore it. “Not responding is a response – we are equally responsible for what we don’t do” (Foer 222). I remember interviewing students from our own critical thinking and writing class at the beginning of the year. As I was a vegetarian at this time, I asked them, “Would you ever give up meat knowing what goes on behind the scenes?” The majority explained that they love meat too much to give it up. Personally, I believe personal sacrifices are the only way to make extreme changes. The second is that we are inherently drawn to violence and this dominant nature. In my third essay that I wrote for critical thinking and writing, I explored the pattern of white males involved in school shootings. Many professionals concluded that this stemmed from a problem of social dominance among them. This relates to the dominance over animals as we share these same animal tendencies.
“If we are not given the option to live without violence, we are given the choice to center our meals around harvest or slaughter, husbandry or war. We have chosen slaughter. We have chosen war. That’s the truest version of our story of eating animals.” (Foer). In reality, many of us have not deeply thought about the food we eat, why we eat it, or the violence that may take place. Humans are attracted to this dominance over animals but if we are able to break away from certain trends, the violence in factory farming could possibly end.
BERNSTEIN, ARIELLE. “The Millions : Storytelling: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.” The Millions. N.p., 20 Nov. 2009. Web. 9 June 2015.
Denney, Christy. “Bacon Pancakes.” Recipe. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.
Feldhausen, Teresa. “Pigs Don’t Deserve the Name ‘Lesser Beasts'” Science News. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
Ozersky, John. “Why the Bacon Trend Will Never End.” Food & Wine. Time Inc., 3 Nov. 2013. Web. 8 June 2015.
“Pigs: Intelligent Animals Suffering in Farms and Slaughterhouses.” PETA. PETA, n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.