Friday, July 8, 2011

Feeling Good About Nothing

I'm sorry if this upsets some people but I don't think I'm jumping up and down about the new Federal law proposal regarding egg laying chickens.  I'm all for giving animals more humane treatment.  That's why I don't eat them.  I don't eat chickens or their eggs.  I figure that by being vegan, the chickens I haven't eaten over the last 18 years weren't killed.  I hope that my singular lack of demand for them for my Bar-B-Que and oven has cause them to not even have been born.  I hope the chicken industry has seen a drop from 30,000,000,000 (that's 30 BILLION) chickens born, bred, and killed to 29,999,999,948 each year, just ballparking that I used to eat at least one chicken a week.

Here are some thoughts I have.

Any effort not put into veganism is ultimately going to result in the death of animals. We saw this with so called, "Free Range" animals. Conditions are not much better for the animals and people now eat "guilt free" eggs. When chickens no longer meet production levels what is going to happen to them?  Are they going to chicken shelters?  Will they be adopted as pets?  Uh, no, they're slaughtered.

All this legislation is just a bargaining chip.  I'm guessing the egg companies would have made these changes anyway as it's actually much more financially feasible for them to do away with these practices in the long term. The same thing happened with gestation crates for sows. The industry actually found that it's more profitable when the animals aren't as stressed and would have done away with them anyway. It seems that the animal "rights" folks won a great victory when the pork industry agreed to phase them out but in reality, nothing was "won" except people can now eat pork without the guilt, (if they had any before).  It just seems that the people campaigning for better treatment of animals actually won something.

I didn't see anyone mention a time table for the cage sizes to be changed.  Meanwhile, the misery continues.  If you really care about the chickens, just stop eating them.  (Shhh, little secret here.  They'll probably be much more grateful for that then anything this law might provide).  If you really care about chickens stop eating their eggs.  It's an easy and short leap.  If you care about animals, stop eating them, their offspring, and their secretions.

If people aren't vegan they should go vegan.
If they're already vegan they should try and convince others it's the right thing to do.

To me this is like campaigning for concentration camp prisoners to have better mattresses and a fan installed in their barracks so they'll be more comfortable before they're led to the gas chambers instead of campaigning to eliminate the killing.

This is a more difficult concept for welfarists to see but it does nothing to end the slaughter of the billions. To me it's a red herring.

Here's a link to the story in Huff Post

Increasing the 48 to 67 square inches per hen works out, if my math is right, from about a 7 by 7 to a 8 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch space.  That's humane?  Take out a ruler and look at what size a full grown chicken is expected to live in.  

I don't think this legislation will ever pass.  Not in it's current form.  I'm betting the egg producers will agree to make some changes and the bills will be watered down or not passed because of the promise to "self regulate."  Where have we seen this before?  

Just my $.02 of course


abe c. said...

Having grown up on an egg farm- a farm which now would be labeled as free-range (though not organic since we served commerical feed to the chickens)- I always had a problem seeing caged chickens on other farms. Caged farms were just becoming standard operation in those days.

Economy of scale being what it is, I can't fathom that a farm our size (12,000 cage-free chickens) would be able to support a family today. I do believe the new guideline is a step in the right direction- more freedom of movement for the birds is definitely a good thing.

Marty said...

Hi Abe,
I'm sorry I have to disagree with you here. Using a chicken and keeping her caged, (even if they get to that poultry promised land of 1 square foot of space per bird), is animal abuse and should be ended. The only way to assure that birds fare well (welfare) is to stop eating them.

I am of the opinion that animals have not been placed on this earth for our use any more than people of color have been placed on this earth to be slaves. Same thing, different species.

Go vegan if you want a "good thing" for the birds.


Sara said...

Great post Marty, I couldn't agree more and I applaud your strong stance on veganism.

I'm often tempted to let people off the hook because they say that it's just too hard for them to give up meat or eggs or dairy.

But would I have the same attitude if we were talking about, say, slavery? If I heard someone say, "Well, I think it's a great theory to give up slaves, but I really, really like having mine," would I let that slide as easily? No way. So why should it be any different when we're talking about animals who are treated just as badly?

Great blog, BTW!

Organicgirl said...

Totally disagree with permanent veganism and vegetarianism. I beleive we should eat in the seasons and be totally self reliant. You can't preach to be vegan and then own a computer, cell phone and fly a plane. They all need animal parts to function.

Eating organic, local, seasonal produce is the best way for everyone.

Plenty of evidence regarding the damage caused by long term veganism can be found all over the internet.

There is also a great book called "The vegetarian Myth" written by someone who was vegetatian for many years.

Marty said...

Hi Sara,
I feel very strongly about veganism but realize that people will approach it at their own speed. I think the goal is being vegan and that's what I encourage but I also agree with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau when she also advises people to start slowly, do what they can and learn, moving continuously towards the goal.

Organic Girl,
Hi, and thanks for writing your comment. I have to disagree. I can absolutely be a vegan and own a computer, cell phone and fly a plane and of course you are right, they all contain animal ingredients. I can only do what I can do and given the option of flying a plane, (which is my job), comprised only of non animal ingredient, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I think this is part of the "if you can't do it all why do any?" syndrome and I just don't buy into it. I still have leather shoes that I wear especially since they're much more waterproof than my vegan dress shoes but I won't BUY anything else made with animal products that I have a choice of.

Cell phone is, for me, a necessity, not an option but when I retire to my self sufficient cabin in the woods it might not be.

What I'm saying is that we have choices in some things and not in others and to hold out perfection in the way of betterment is a shame, imho, of course.

I totally agree with you that eating local seasonal produce is the best way to eat. I think that would be vegan though, no?

There might be some people who have interests in downplaying the health benefit of a vegan diet but a) there is an amazing amount of information about the debilitating effects of our current meat/animal/dairy centric diet and any shift towards a plant based diet has been shown to be of benefit and 2) the Vegetarian Myth is not a scientific study and if you google "criticism of "The Vegetarian Myth" you can read numerous reasons why. 3) Take a look at "The China Study" and any of the work by Esselstyn, Ornish, and MacDougal about the benefits of a vegan diet.


Anonymous said...

Marty, I understand what you're saying, but I don't know any vegans who are suddenly going to start eating meat or eggs because the chickens now have a few more inches of space. The last time one of those "downed cow in a slaughterhouse" videos came out, I was waiting for take out at our local pizzeria. Of around 10 people in the shop, the report didn't even seem to register for most of them. The one comment I overheard was - you guessed it - "That's a shame, but I could never stop eating meat." We need to educate people about the absolute wrongness of eating animal products AND improve conditions for the ones that are going to be eaten by the people who just don't care.

Marty said...

Hi and thanks for your comment. I'm not sure if you agree with me or not though. I don't think vegans are going to jump on the meat, egg or dairy bandwagon because the animals are treated a tiny bit "better" but I do think that others who might have been considering going vegan, eating less meat, or a shift towards a more plant based diet now have a mitigation of their guilt.
The thought, "Oh, it's terrible what they do to the animals," just might result in a few braincells coming up with a thought, in a meateater, that perhaps there is an ACTION that could be taken by them ... ie stop eating meat. Now the thought changes to, "It's not as bad as it was so I don't have to do anything."
Education about the wrongness of eating animals is what I'm saying must be done. Any money spent on animal welfare is better spent on vegan outreach and education. It's NOT ok to eat an animal if you treat it ok while it's alive. The treatment of an animal does not justify what you do to it in the end.