Health Nugget – It’s Not “Slaughter”

“To slaughter or process meat? That was the question put to New South Wales (Australia) Farmers’ delegates at its annual conference when they made the decision to change the use of the word slaughter when referring to the livestock industry.

“In the interest of community engagement and public image, farmers passed the motion that all relevant parties in livestock industries use the term processing in lieu of, and to the complete exclusion of the term slaughter.

“The word slaughter is not appropriate for our industry as we are processing animals through the various stages that end up for food. It’s not a mass murder,”1 states the livestock industry.

Large animals in the United States are also no longer slaughtered. They’re now disassembled. And chickens are harvested.

While Adventist Christians have focused on the health benefits of the vegetarian diet, the young generation of today has focused on a far worse problem with meat consumption – animal cruelty on a scale unimaginable to previous generations.

The science has demonstrated in the past few decades that animals have emotional lives. They feel not only physical, but also emotional pain. They have social behaviors and community structures. For example, cows and many other animals are known to babysit for each other. Animals mourn the loss of their loved ones.

The paradox of the situation is that while we know more than ever about the emotional lives of animals, we treat them worse than at any previous time in history.

Someone could say that this is not true. Our pets are treated better than ever. We spend jaw-dropping amounts of money on their toys, organic food, cosmetics, healthcare, to name a few. What about farm animals? Not only are they not afforded the same luxuries as our pets, but they are not even treated as living beings. They are just industrial objects destined for later “disassembly.” They’re kept in such appalling conditions that they have to be fed antibiotics their whole lives to prevent the spread of disease. Male piglets have their testicles ripped out without anesthetics. Calves are removed from their mothers almost immediately because we need the cow’s milk. Male calves are killed within a few days, as the dairy industry has no need for them and they’re not the right breed for meat. Cows mourn the loss of their babies with tears in their eyes for weeks until many are driven to insanity. One would wonder what effect this milk has on the health of those consuming dairy products.

So what’s the difference between a dog that we treat as a family member and a cow or sheep which we don’t even treat as a living being? The science now has a term for it – carnism. It is a belief system supported by cultural conditioning where one animal can be afforded a human-like status, while another is a worthless object that can be tortured for profit. Dogs, for example, are animals destined for human consumption in some countries, while cows are treated as divine, afforded the best welfare, and hurting one bears a prison sentence in other countries. We all know which animals fit each category in the western world. The western society is guilty of carnism more than any other culture.

It is now not socially acceptable to raise certain animals for fur. According to some activists, it’s not okay to train animals for circus performances, while the most massive abuse and torture of animals destined for meat production goes unnoticed.

We have to acknowledge that we have consumed meat for thousands of years. Often it was a matter of survival of the human race. The Biblical story of Noah tells us that when Noah’s ark landed on dry land, there were no edible plants after the flood, therefore God permitted people to consume animals. One of the consequences was a sharp decline in human longevity.

Today, we no longer have any justification for meat consumption, especially if the science has proven that meat consumption causes diseases and shortens our lifespan. Yet, so many are unwilling to give up this practice.

It is also true that generations as recent as our parents and grandparents considered meat eating normal. Yet, farm animals were still treated as living beings with respect, care, and love during those times. Animals were given happy lives in their natural outdoor surroundings. Their meat was not tainted by the excessive use of drugs and hormones. Perhaps the following quote wasn’t clear to our parents, but this prediction has been fulfilled in our generation and secular sources confirm it: “There is no safety in eating of the flesh of dead animals, and in a short time the milk of the cows will also be excluded from the diet of God’s commandment-keeping people. In a short time it will not be safe to use anything that comes from the animal creation.” Unpublished Testimony, July 26, 1898. {PUR November 7, 1901, Art. B, par. 1}

Jesus said: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NIV). How can we possibly extend love to each other and treat animals with the harshest cruelty? It is not a coincidence that people who are cruel to animals have often experienced violence as children and also are not kind to others.

We have animal welfare laws designed to protect animals, but get this: farm animals are exempt! “It is estimated that nine billion land animals are raised and killed for food every year in the U.S. We don’t even have an estimate for how many aquatic animals are killed in the U.S. every year, because the statistics kept are in tonnages, not individual beings. Many of these animals are subjected to near-unimaginable cruelty – much of which is perfectly legal, under current law.”2

Abuses on commercial farms and in slaughterhouses are so horrific, most of us couldn’t bear to witness them. “Animals can have their testicles, tails, horns, beaks, or toes removed without anesthesia. Male chicks are ground up alive, and piglets are killed by slamming their heads on the ground.”3 Yet, we feel completely comfortable to purchase parts of these animals in the grocery store. Every consumer partaking in the system is guilty of cruelty. Farmed animals are every bit as capable of feeling pain and pleasure as the animals who live with us as family members.

If such treatment of animals is the industry standard, why are not people protesting in the streets? The reason is simple: The meat industry has developed a system concealing the reality from the public eye. Commercial farms have heavy security; no one can come near them. If a private vehicle pulls on a side of a public road anywhere within sight of these farms, security personnel will arrive within minutes. No photos are allowed even from a distance. Where are the 9 billion animals slaughtered annually in the United States? Why is it we never see them? They’re transported to their deaths on the interstates while we sleep. Transport of animals to slaughterhouses is often seen after dark.

Most of these crimes against animals are happening in the so-called civilized west. It is very easy for the media in non-Christian countries to portray western Christians as barbaric, cruel, and evil. And it is only our own fault.

As the meat industry pushes to exclude the term slaughter, we have further redefined living beings into just “things.” Unlike our previous generations, we are not even willing to acknowledge that death is a part of our diet. Unlike our supposedly barbaric ancestors, we don’t even want to acknowledge that animals are living beings. We have lost compassion. Unlike our parents and grandparents, we teach our children we are not slaughtering animals, we are just processing them. No! It is slaughter! More barbaric than the world has ever seen. As Christians, we can’t look the other way.


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