Growing up, I loved being outside with friends and family. Because my parents never encouraged video games, I didn’t really play them that often. Instead, I would play outside. My brother and I would walk to the tennis courts that were conveniently close to our house and play for hours. We would serve, volley, and hit groundstrokes all day long. I would also walk to the beach and hang out with friends. My friends and I played volleyball, swam in the ocean, and laid out in the sand under the giant golden sun. It was this freedom that my parents gave me to explore the outside world that made my childhood so great. I had no worries, no fears.
I was, however, ignorant up until this Critical Thinking and Writing class that I took taught by Professor Nicholas Leither.
Before taking the class, I was lacking in my understanding of food, not only where it comes from, but also how it’s grown and raised? For the most part, meat was something that I didn’t comprehend. I ate it because my family did and that’s what most American do. As I aged and got more involved with working out, I ate meat for the protein benefits that so many people preach about. The whole time, however, I didn’t realize that the animals we harvest for meat are not only treated poorly, but abused on a regular basis. They are given no freedom. No choice to live how they desire and simply graze on grass with their families. Therefore, I asked myself if I thought it was right for me to grow up and live so freely while factory farms deprive animals of such basic and pure elements to happiness. I answered no.
Animals deserve to be ethically treated. They are living creatures that enjoy and are inclined to live in nature rather than within a steel cage “jammed body to body” (Foer 92). Whether it be chickens, cows, or pigs, factory farming has turned natural, innocent animals into meat machines inside warehouses or on acres of feces and dirt. Thanks to the Critical Writing and Thinking class, I became more and more aware of the unfair treatment of farm animals. With the knowledge and insight that I have gained, I know now that factory farms dominate the meat industry rather than the farmers we grew up learning about, and it is obvious that these factory farms are immoral. While industrial farms do produce a lot of meat which consumers ignorantly buy, they are unethical as the animals are treated with violence and neglect. I am not arguing that animals are humans, but I do believe that they warrant just treatment especially because humans do raise them just to kill them. At the same time that we fight this terrible predicament that we put animals in, the meat industry, along with other businesses, psychologically overwhelm consumers with constant advertisements which is why factory farms have become institutionalized within society. No one agrees with them, but no one really stops them and still buys factory farmed meats. The firms persuade us to buy products that may or may not be good for us which is dishonest and unfair.
Throughout the course, I thought about my own actions surrounding food from an ethical standpoint which is something I had previously never imagined doing but I realize now is necessary. We engaged and discussed material such as Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, a New York Times bestseller, which taught me all about factory farming as well as the deception and secrecy that surround the meat industry. Finally, I was able to imagine a society in which I would love to live in, one that respectfully raised animals much like the typical country farm one would picture in their head with the red barn, acres of flowing green grass, and a kind farmer tenderly looking after the a few cows and pigs, and a dozen or so chickens in a coupe. Today is a different story however.
(some chickens are crammed into warehouses without ever seeing the light of day)
The raising of animals through the means of factory farming is wrong. When looking at typical raising standards for chickens, the birds are “deformed, drugged, overstressed”, and they have problems with “deformities, eye damage, blindness, bacterial infections of bones, slipped vertebrae, paralysis, internal bleeding, anemia, slipped tendons, twisted lower legs and necks” and so on (Foer 131). The chicken, once a free roaming bird, is left neglected because the factory farms only care about profits. They leave the animals to “an excruciating life [that] is worse than an excruciating death”, both of which they experience (Foer 91). Factory farmed animals live their lives in pain and fear, even when they are unwillingly sacrificing their lives for our nutrients as well as enjoyment. We should be appreciating their contribution to our lives, not making their own lives miserable. There is a question that appears when all of these awful acts come to light: how did this happen?
Consumers typically have the ability influence what producers sell through buying products and basically, vote with their money; however, the meat industry has been able to control our spending and actually limit our freedom to a certain extent. With constant mental bombardment, businesses are able to deplete consumers’ ability to resist their advertisements. The act of defying ads or temptations “takes some degree of effort”. Therefore, after a long time of seeing the promotion of meat, many consumers’ willpowers are weakened “until at some point [consumers’] surrender” (Ariely 101). The system through which businesses are able to persuade their customers is corrupt and their consumers must be conscious of the effect that companies can have on them. Consumers must avoid ads and remain totally aware of their decisions and the impacts they can have on other humans, animals, and the environment as a whole.
My Critical Thinking and Writing class has opened my eyes to the unjust actions taken by factory farms which slide right under so many others. It’s important to remember and understand the implications of decisions, even when so distanced from where the problems actually occur such as at factory farms where there are clear violations of ethical animal treatment. Cognizance is essential when dealing with any type of business in order to withstand the constant manipulation that firms use. It is knowledge about these subjects that allow me to make an informed, personal decision which helps increase my freedom, and this is why I appreciate the course I took so much. Freedom, in some respects, is crucial to a fulfill one’s happiness which is what each living being deserves, both animals and humans alike.
“Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and Factory Farming.” Farm Sanctuary Blog. Farm Sanctuary, 15 Jan. 2016. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.
Ariely, Dan. The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–especially Others. New York: Harper, 2013. Print.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.