If you have your news radar tuned to “fucked up,” then you may have recently seen an article titled “Intruder Uses Golf Club to Kill Nearly 1,000 Foster Farms Chickens” floating around. Every non-sociopath (and some sociopaths, too!) can agree that this is the work of “pretty sick” individuals (as one of the investigating deputies so aptly put it). However, if you’re not vegan, then you’re probably reading a different article when you click on the same link. “How is that possible?” you might ask. “Are you drinking again?” No, I answer defensively. Don’t change the subject. Why are you always so literal? I feel like we’ve had this conversation before. It’s about cognitive dissonance.
When I clicked to read the comments on the article–the one about 920 chickens being brutally slain with a golf club–a commercial for Hellmann’s mayo began on auto-play: “There’s chicken and then there’s juicy chicken….” I was struggling for a way to verbalize the cognitive dissonance and then this advertisement appeared, clearly heaven-sent. You can’t have your outrage and your juicy chicken, too. There, that’s the heart of it.
These chickens were individual animals with personalities, instincts, drives, and the capability of feeling pleasure, but the reality of only feeling suffering. Had they not been killed in this gruesome manner, they would have been killed in another, and there would have been no headlines, because grocery store sales advertisements don’t count. “Chickens first, then children–that’s how all psychopaths work,” one comment claims, but I’m certain they aren’t thinking of the slaughterhouse workers who would have otherwise dismembered these 920 chickens. It’s okay though, no harm, no fowl, because it tastes good. That’s something we can understand. See how dismissively I punned the fuck out of that? Who cares, right? Send those golf club wielding, chicken-killing fucks to prison and send these other assembly-line throat-slicing heroes* their paychecks. NO COGNITIVE DISSONANCE HERE, BRO.
*Heroes still subject to shitty pay and unsafe working conditions.
I shared this article along with a simple query: “Holy fuck, people are sick–HEY WAIT A MINUTE, but why is it okay to kill these animals on an assembly line?” No one challenged me on this point, most likely because I preemptively addressed concerns by following the post with an image from Vegan Sidekick:
One person did, however, pose another question in response: “So do vegans feel domesticated farm animals should be extinct? Since they really are only husbanded by people for their parts and labour?”
Normally I wouldn’t feel compelled to formulate a response. I’d use Google to copy and paste a link where someone else already answered it, because that’s what Google is for (if not porn). However, it’s a Friday night and I’m feeling a little burnt out on watching Star Trek right now, so eh, why not?
“So do vegans feel domesticated farm animals should be extinct?”
Short answer: No.
END OF BLOG. THANKS FOR READING.
Serious answer: Still no. First, the framing of the question presumes vegans as a whole feel the same way on this subject. This isn’t necessarily true. I want to point that out, because I don’t speak for all vegans any more than I speak for all women, all feminists, all Atheists, all board game enthusiasts, all alcoholics, etc.
I can still answer with a fairly confident “no” because in my five years of veganism I have not yet encountered any hidden agenda to bring about the extinction of farmed animals.
But which farmed animals are we talking about? That matters.
For example, are we talking about turkeys? The majority of farmed turkeys have been selectively bred to be so top-heavy that they literally can’t even have sex anymore. Just a fun fact to share with the family! So if no farm employee is jerking off male turkeys to inseminate female turkeys, then the cycle of abuse ends. Future generations of those turkeys might not be around if we decide to stop eating/masturbating turkeys. There are heritage breeds of turkeys. There are wild turkeys. Turkeys would still exist, in some form, but the ones who are (thanks to us) so miserably unnatural that they can’t even have sex probably wouldn’t. Would that be a terrible loss for the turkeys?
If some brave, kind soul wanted to “save” this specific breed of turkeys, and put in the hard work of masturbating and breeding them, they’d find that the lifespans of these turkeys are drastically shorter than their wild counterparts. Also, they’re going to be plagued with hella medical issues because they haven’t been “designed” to live out a natural lifespan; they’re designed to live till they hit slaughter weight.
If you ever visit a sanctuary for formerly-farmed animals who have been rescued. and you talk to the people who work there, you can find out about exactly how much goes into keeping these animals (the few that escape your dinner plate) comfortable for their unnaturally brief lifespans: the medicine, the money, the care-giving, the emotional work. You have to really care about the animals individually to partake in an endeavor that isn’t considered cost-efficient to someone who views the animals as a means to an end. To be honest, I just don’t see anyone working that closely with the animals, and having the animals’ best interests in mind, wanting to perpetuate that cycle of misery.
But seriously, turkeys wouldn’t go extinct. There are breeds that would survive us not eating them. Imagine that!
We could go on through each and every species of farmed animals, but I think the one example adequately makes my point, and I do want to sleep tonight.
Veganism is about ending exploitation. What that might look like is a bit up in the air, because I don’t know if veganism will ever have the mainstream impact to shut down all farming, or just factory farming, or a certain percentage of farming. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to address the problems of what would happen if the entire world went vegan, because I don’t think that’s going to happen in my lifetime. I am a pessimist. I also don’t think I would have all of the solutions to all of the challenges such a dramatic change would cause if I were proven wrong and we all wake up vegan tomorrow. Luckily, the world is very rarely dependent upon me solely for these answers.
I do think we’d have a better chance of solving a lot of our problems if suddenly all of the great minds in our society, in their respective fields, woke up with a new paradigm in which animals were valuable beyond their utility to humans. Collectively we might even be able to address the very non-hypothetical extinction crisis that is occurring RIGHT NOW! We’re losing critters at “a rate of 100 to 1,000 species per million per year, mostly due to human-caused habitat destruction and climate change.” Do you know what one major contributor to habitat loss and climate change is? Do you want to hazard a guess? It’s animal agriculture. Isn’t that funny? The UN cites animal agriculture as responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector! And we’re deforesting the fuck out of Central and South America so we can graze cattle and grow livestock feed. While you’re understandably concerned about the potential extinction of cows if we stop eating them, it turns out that our desire for cheap hamburgers is forcing a fuckton of wild species into extinction. MASS EXTINCTION: That’s happening now. So do non-vegans feel that wild animals should be extinct?
I’m being facetious, but I think it’s just as valid as the original question that was posed.
If you’d like to learn more about animal agriculture’s devastating environmental impact, then you might be interested in the recent film “Cowspiracy.” (See movie trailer below.)
If you’ve come this far, then I presume you don’t mind reading, and that you might also be interested in the very well-written Eating Animals by my
husband literary crush Jonathan Safran Foer. It addresses environmental concerns among others. He’s more eloquent than I, and curses far less, so I’mma let him finish via a couple of quotations:
“Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else? If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivating, what would be? If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?”
“While it is always possible to wake a person who’s sleeping, no amount of noise will wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.”