In this case, a majority of humans hold, as a core belief, that nonhumans exist to be killed and eaten by humans. This belief conflicts with the also commonly held belief that violence and harm should not be inflicted on defenseless beings. In order to eliminate this conflict between beliefs, most people attempt to rationalize or justify, by ignoring the suffering felt by nonhumans or claim that they somehow need the things produced by slaughtering nonhumans.
In 2009, the American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, the U.S.’s oldest and largest authority on diet and nutrition, recognized that humans have no inherent biological or nutritional need for animal products. “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriatly planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.“
Read more at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864
The western world has socially constructed different categories with which they group different nonhuman species together. Species including dogs, cats, and horses are placed into a category known as ‘companion’ animals. Species including cows, pigs, and chickens are placed into a category known as ‘food’ animals. These different categories, or classifications, entail varying levels of socially acceptable ways in which the species, in respective categories, can be treated.
Species who are classified into the ‘companion’ category are normally treated with compassion, respect and often love. That is to say, humans have been socialized to treat certain non humans this way, these behaviors have been normalized.
Regarding species who are classified into the ‘food’ category, humans have normalized very problematic behaviors when it comes to how we treat them. Western society has normalized imposing extreme forms of torture, dismemberment, and confinement onto the species of non humans who comprise the ‘food’ category.
These behaviors have been normalized because it has been shown that a number of humans can make profit by confining, dismembering, and selling the flesh of the non humans who were captured, or bred into captivity.
This is another example of how powerful narrative can be.
The shared western narrative: “cows, pigs, and chickens exist to be slaughtered and consumed, but dogs, cats, and horses do not” impacts literally billions of sentient beings who are born into cow pig and chicken bodies in the wost imaginable ways.
In societies that do not share this narrative, different species of non humans are impacted differently:
Bill That Bans Undercover Filming At Farms Enacted In Idaho
Dairy cows feed through a fence at an Idaho farm, in this 2009 file photo. Idaho’s Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter enacted a bill Friday that criminalizes the act of secretly filming animal abuse at farms.
Idaho’s Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has signed a bill that criminalizes the act of secretly filming animal abuse at agricultural facilities. The move comes days after the state’s legislature approved the measure.
“Otter, a rancher, said the measure promoted by the dairy industry ‘is about agriculture producers being secure in their property and their livelihood,’” according to the AP.
Under the law signed today, anyone caught making secret video recordings of agricultural operations could face a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. The legislation refers to “the crime of interference with agricultural production.”
Idaho is one of at least 10 states that have taken up so-called “ag gag” legislation after “videos revealing apparent cruel treatment of farm animals went viral” in recent years, as Kathleen Masterson reported for NPR in 2012.
The Idaho legislation was introduced after “Los Angeles-based vegetarian and animal rights group Mercy for Animals showing workers at Bettencourt Dairy beating, stomping and sexually abusing cows in 2012,” the AP says.
After today’s signing, Mercy for Animals executive director Nathan Runkle issued a statement that read in part:
“Governor Otter has failed Idaho and the American people. By signing this bill into law, he has sided with those who seek to keep Idaho’s corrupt factory farming practices hidden from public view and created a safe haven for animal abuse and other criminal activity in the state. Mercy For Animals is exploring all legal avenues to overturn this dangerous, unconstitutional, and un-American law.”
The push to block cameras from livestock areas hit a roadblock last year, when 15 different bills failed at the state level. That failure was attributed to vigorous resistance from a coalition of groups that included the Humane Society of the U.S., as NPR’s Eliza Barclay reported in December.
Legislation that targets activists who seek to expose unhealthy or inhumane practices at meat and dairy farms has evolved in the past year, with some recent state bills requiring only that “anyone who videotapes or records animal abuse turn over a copy of the evidence to police within 48 hours.”
For activists, the problem with that requirement is that it drastically narrows the window for them to do their work. To make a powerful argument and present it as a documentary, activists need to show patterns of systemic mistreatment. To do that can require hours of video from different days, or repeated looks at the same animal to track its health.
Last year, Taimie Bryant, a professor at UCLA School of Law, told NPR’s The Salt that bills restricting attempts to document livestock conditions could also severely cut into oversight at some types of oversight.
Federal inspectors supervise animals’ welfare at slaughterhouses, Bryant said.
“But for dairies and feedlots,” she added, “these undercover videos are all we have.”
-Bill Chapel. National Public Radio. February 28, 2014
Those who make money from selling animal products would have you believe otherwise. They believe that if you knew what it took to ‘produce’ animals products, you may not demand the production of animal products any longer. For this reason, the conditions under which animals are raised and slaughtered are hidden from the sight of consumers.
Those interested in keeping hidden the violence they inflict on nonhumans will go to great lengths to do so.