Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.--Albert Schweitzer
It all kind of starts with corn.
The subsidization of corn, to be more specific.
The current price of corn is artificially low, thanks to outdated government policies. And corn is a grain with the power to fatten up livestock more quickly than the grass they're meant to consume. Since time is money, it's obviously more attractive to get livestock up to market weight as quickly as possible. This is the starting point for greed.
And while we're considering the easiest ways to make fast cash, it's logical to assume that space is also money. And this is where the CAFOs come in.
CAFO: Confined Animal Feeding Operations, also known as factory farms and feedlots. Feedlots are depressing, to put it mildly -- part of the definition reads: "there is no grass or vegetation in the confinement area"(emphasis mine). Animals are confined in as little space as possible, crammed in amongst each other to the point where natural behaviors cannot be expressed. It is important to cattle, for instance, to spend the majority of the day resting, foraging, and chewing their cud. There is no room for these behaviors on a feedlot and stress runs rampant. 'No room' in CAFOs means 'standing room only'.
Pigs, subjected to these cramped quarters, tend to bite the tails of the pigs around them out of frustration and boredom. Instead of giving them more room (and relieving their stress) the solution instead is to dock the tails of all pigs, without anesthesia and rarely without follow-up treatment.
I suppose it's unfair to say that the pigs (or any other CAFO animal) receive little medical care. As a matter of fact, the majority of factory-farmed animals are grossly over medicated. There are a few reasons for this:
1. Stressed animals are usually sick animals.
2. Within such cramped conditions, if one animal is sick, it stands to reason that the rest will follow suit quickly. Sick animals lead to dead animals, and you can't get rich off that.
3. Antibiotics also happen to promote rapid growth, and, as I said earlier, time is money.
When we eat medicated meat, we ingest the medications the animal ingested. These antibiotics are not meant for direct human consumption, at the very least. This is why I've been stressing the importance of organic animal products -- you don't have to worry about antibiotics that weren't meant for your health entering your body.
Here's something you certainly need to worry about, though:
The deputy director of the FDA has admitted that no one is monitoring the use of antibiotics in factory farms.
NO ONE is sticking up for your right not to consume antibiotics meant for livestock! And if no one is sticking up for you, no one is sticking up for the animals.
Please, please, PLEASE do not search for videos concerning factory farms. That is a one-way ticket to nightmares and temporary vegetarianism*.
Who knew corn could lead to such cruelty?
*There is nothing inherently wrong with eating animals, and nothing 'elitist' or 'demanding' about being a vegetarian. The issue is changing conditions for animals, not refusing to eat them.