7 Ways Eating Meat, Dairy and Eggs Destroys Motherhood

This article strikes a chord with me as I’m now just over 5 weeks away from my own personal D-Day!

Farmed animals care about their babies, and include some of the most devoted mothers in the animal kingdom. In many cultures, cows symbolize a sacred maternal figure, while we call the nurturing and (sometimes overly) protective people in our lives “mother hens” for a very good reason. Yet animal farming is fundamentally built on the destruction of motherhood. Every year, billions of farmed animals are forcibly bred into existence for the sole purpose of being exploited and killed for their flesh and secretions. Female reproduction and mothering are constantly violated in order to produce meat, milk and eggs we have no biological need to consume. In fact, a nutritious plant-based diet is shown to be far healthier than a diet that includes animal products, and delicious plant-based versions of meat, eggs and dairy products can be purchased in stores or prepared in your own kitchen. In the sections below, learn more about farmed animal mothers and their babies, and what you can do to help them. 1. Dairy All animal farming exploits motherhood, but there is perhaps no more egregious violation of motherhood than dairy farming, in which females of another species are forced to become pregnant and carry their babies for nine months, only to have them ripped away at birth in order for humans to steal the milk intended for them. Cows’ milk is for baby cows. Human breast milk is for young developing humans. We have no more need to drink the breast milk of a cow than we do the breast milk of a cat. Taking mothers’ milk from other animals is not only unhealthy and unnecessary, but entails a great deal of cruelty, even on small and so-called humane dairy farms, like the one in the video below.

Watch here

Profitable dairy production depends on a constant cycle of impregnating cows to keep them at peak lactation, then taking away the calves for whom the milk is intended, typically within the first few hours of birth. Researchers have found that merely five minutes of contact between a cow and her newborn calf is sufficient for the formation of a strong maternal bond. Calves who got to spend only 24 hours with their mothers continued to recognize and uniquely respond to recordings of their mothers’ calls.

“The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn – only ten yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth – minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days – were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain.” —Dr. Michael Klaper

JMdairy6

Female calves spend their first six weeks to two months of life isolated in hutches with none of the maternal care or nurturing they crave. Male calves are sold to be slaughtered for veal or cheap beef. The cruel veal industry only exists as a result of the dairy industry.

2. Eggs

many male chicks in garbage bag

At the hatcheries that supply female chicks to factory egg farms, small farms, and backyard egg enthusiasts alike, male chicks are killed shortly after birth by being ground up alive in giant macerators, gassed, electrocuted, or left to suffocate in garbage bags and dumpsters. Because male chicks will never lay eggs and are not the breed sold for meat (meat chicken breeds have been genetically manipulated to grow much more breast muscle and flesh), they are considered worthless to the egg industry, and so are disposed of as trash. Destroying male chicks is standard practice worldwide (see the 5 second graphic video below). Every year, global hatcheries combined kill approximately 6 billion newborn chicks.

Even the most rigorous humane labeling certification programs in the U.S., Certified Humane, American Humane Certified, and Animal Welfare Approved, permit the killing of male chicks at the hatcheries which supply their egg farms with laying hens. Laying hens themselves spend 2 miserable years crammed into cages so small they cannot even spread their wings, churning out an unnaturally high rate of hundreds of eggs each year without ever getting the chance to hatch or mother a single chick.

3. Pigs

In a natural environment, pregnant sows leave the social group a few days before birth to look for a safe, secluded space for building a nest. Sows are very selective about their nest sites and may travel for miles before choosing a spot. Once the site has been chosen, the sow digs a hollow in the earth and fills it with soft grass, leaves and twigs.

gestation crate joanne mcarthur

But on factory farms, breeding sows are confined and immobilized for most of their lives. After being artificially inseminated, they spend the entire four months of their pregnancy in “gestation crates,” metal stalls so narrow the sows can literally never turn around, and can’t lie down without portions of their body protruding outside the bars. Sows lie and stand in these maddening conditions night and day for 16 weeks. These intelligent, playful animals, whom animal behaviourists rank as more intelligent than 3 year old children, frequently become so depressed that they grow unresponsive and lie unmoving with vacant stares. Others go insane, biting the bars of their crates and obsessively banging their heads against the metal doors. When they are ready to give birth, mother pigs are transferred to “farrowing crates” that are equally restrictive. Once again they cannot turn around, and must lie or stand on slatted metal flooring covered with their own urine and excrement. This is highly stressful for sows, who are extremely fastidious animals and, when permitted, always establish separate toilet areas far from their nests. Piglets can reach their mothers to nurse, but sows can perform none of the maternal behaviours that come to them naturally. Baby pigs are taken from their mothers at 2 to 3 weeks of age. After 2 to 4 years of repeated artificial insemination and pregnancy, breeding sows are brutally slaughtered and replaced. The video below is from a slaughterhouses that turns breeding sows into sausage.

Watch here

While life is better for pigs on some small and so-called humane farms, even on these farms mother pigs are helpless to protect their newborn piglets from practices so cruel they would be illegal if done to dogs or cats. See our feature, Bacon: A Day in the Life to learn more. 4. Chickens for Meat In a natural environment, chicks would spend much of their first weeks peeping out from under their mother’s wings, or exploring by her side, feeling nurtured and protected. Check out this clip for a beautiful reminder of where we got the term “mother hen”:

Watch here

But chicks raised for meat never know their mother’s warmth or experience the sense of security and belonging they instinctively seek. Instead they are hatched by the hundreds of thousands in massive industrial incubator drawers stacked ceiling to floor. Life from the moment of birth is a mechanized horror show in which newborn chicks are treated like cogs in a machine: thrown, dropped, sucked through chutes, and, if they are sickly or too small, ground up alive.

Watch here

5. Cows for Beef Researchers who have studied cow-calf relationships in semi-wild herds and in domestic beef cattle observe the same pattern: the strongest and most lasting social bonds among cows are between mothers and their offspring, and these relationships persist long after the calves have matured. In both domestic and semi-wild herds, cows consistently prefer their daughters and sons as grazing companions for many years. “The birth of a second, third, or even fourth calf failed to disrupt the close association between the cow and her older offspring.”

mama kissing baby cow 1

Although calves raised for beef get to stay with their mothers much longer than calves born to dairy cows, they are still separated far earlier than would ever naturally occur, at only 6 or 7 months of age. Because they have bonded so closely, this separation is devastating for both mother and calf. In fact the process is so traumatic that calves frequently become sick and many die; complications from weaning are the second greatest cause of death in beef calves. The cruel spiked nose ring was originally invented as a way to minimize loss of beef calves by allowing them to stay with their mothers while forcibly preventing them from nursing. Watch what happens on the day these calves are permanently separated from their moms.

Watch here

On one farm blog, a farmer’s wife writes of the weaning period: “The other day I made the mistake of opening the curtains at the kitchen sink and spotted the calves lined up at the corral fence and their mommas lined up on the other side. Nose to nose, they were positioned like prisoners during visitation!” 6. Turkeys The very first thing baby turkeys do when they have hatched from their shells is look and call for their mothers. Turkeys are very family oriented. In natural conditions, turkey hens are devoted mothers who care diligently for their babies. Young turkeys, known as poults, learn crucial survival information from their mother, including what to eat, how to avoid predators, the layout of the home range, and important social behaviors. But on commercial farms, turkeys are hatched in incubators and crammed into warehouses with thousands of other motherless poults. It is confusing and hard on young turkeys to never know a mother figure. Check out this amazing clip of a hatching newborn turkey immediately searching for, and bonding with, his adoptive mother—who just so happens to be a man.

Watch here

In addition to never getting a chance to mother their babies, turkeys on breeding farms are horribly abused. Modern day turkeys have been bred to grow so grotesquely large that they can’t even mate naturally. Commercial turkeys are “artificially inseminated”: the industry euphemism for roughly restraining female turkeys, turning them upside down, and violently shoving syringes of semen into their vaginas.

One worker describes his brief stint at a turkey hen breeding facility in Missouri: “The birds were terrified, and beat their wings and struggled in panic…Having been through this week after week, the birds feared the chute and bulked and huddled up. The drivers literally kicked them into the chute…I have never done such hard, dirty, disgusting work in my life: 10 hours of pushing birds, grabbing birds, wrestling birds, jerking them upside down, pushing open their vents, dodging their panic-blown excrement and breathing the dust stirred up by terrified birds.”

7. Goats

Watch here

Goat’s milk, cheese and other goat’s milk products involve the same cruelty as dairy farming of cows. Kid goats are taken from their mothers, males are killed for meat, and both males and females are subjected to excruciating mutilations without pain killer or anesthesia. These include castration, disbudding or dehorning, and ear notching. The video above shows standard hot iron disbudding (removal of sensitive tissue that would grow into horns) on a small dairy goat farm.

Stella would have been dead by Christmas. In late December, a slaughterhouse owner bought her and several other “spent” dairy goats at a stockyard. Like all female goats in dairy production, they had lived their short lives in a cycle of impregnation, birth and lactation. Their babies were taken from them immediately after birth, the girls to be raised as replacements, the boys to be auctioned for meat or disposed of by some other fatal means. After a few years of this, the dairy goats’ bodies were worn out, and their milk production declined. It was then their turn to face the auction and the kill floor. It was a normal day at the slaughterhouse until Stella went into labor. Unaware that one of his purchases was pregnant, the facility owner was taken by surprise. And then he was taken by another emotion. Seeing the tender devotion between the mother and her newborn kid, he decided to let them live. Stella and her newborn baby were spared. The slaughterhouse owner reached out to a relative who had worked at Cornell University Hospital for Animals, and she knew exactly where the goats could go to be safe. She contacted our New York Shelter, and we were quickly on our way. When we arrived to rescue the goats, we found another mother goat who had recently given birth as well. We then asked, and the slaughterhouse owner agreed, to let them live too.” -read the full story of Farm Sanctuary’s rescue of Stella the goat and her baby, Abigail. What It Means to Exploit Motherhood People sometimes defend the exploitation of farmed animal motherhood by saying things like, “Some pigs are careless mothers and will crush and even kill their piglets without gestation crates. We’re protecting the piglets.” Or, “The maternal instinct has been bred out of dairy cows. Some will not feed their babies properly or will even ignore them entirely. We’re protecting the calves by taking them away from their mothers.” These arguments are not only disingenuous, they’re illogical. If we follow their logic to its natural conclusion, then we would be forced to note that many human mothers are careless mothers, neglectful mothers, abusive mothers — and many human mothers even kill their babies. (1) If the existence of instances of poor parenting or the killing of babies by some farmed animals is an excuse to enslave, confine, and exploit billions of farmed animal mothers (and to eat their babies), then, since so many human mothers neglect and kill their babies, are we also justified in exploiting all human mothers and taking their babies away to harm them? If not, then this line of reasoning doesn’t bear up. Farmed animals care about their babies and are good mothers despite the fact that some pigs accidentally crush their babies, just as most human mothers are good mothers despite the fact that many mothers intentionally kill their own babies. It is wrong to exploit the motherhood of any creature. You can reject the violent exploitation of motherhood and of all animals by living vegan. Leading public health organizations all over the world are now catching up with science in acknowledging that a vegan diet is healthy and appropriate for individuals at all stages of life.

 

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Fish don’t feel…?

A lot of people tell me that they struggle to feel compassionately about fish.  On the sliding scale of animals that we can empathise with, fish come pretty low… above woodlice possibly but way below pigs and partridge! 

Yes they don’t resemble us much and don’t display the biggest array of emotions or facial expressions!  But I think we all have the ability to recognise suffering and I challenge you to watch this footage and not feel enormously sad and angry. 

Play Video

 Once you’ve finished watching this, if you’re someone that enjoys eating fish then I’d ask you to think about how the fish you eat are killed.  Think about how the billions of fish that are killed every year for human consumption die.  And sit with those thoughts for a little while.

Some other videos that might make you reconsider whether it is cruel to eat fish…

This one

and

This one with Joaquin Phoenix is pretty thought provoking

Please sign this petition to help get CCTV installed in all slaughterhouses

 

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

– Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney’s famous words ring true for anyone who’s glimpsed the terrible things that happen to animals in abattoirs. But in the UK, far from having “glass walls”, most abattoirs are not even properly monitored, allowing shocking abuse to happen behind closed doors.

Watch this video to see how important it is that slaughterhouses are monitored… be warned it contains upsetting footage

Animal Aid investigated nine randomly chosen UK abattoirs and found breaches of welfare laws in eight of them. Animals were kicked, slapped, stamped on, beaten, punched, burned with cigarettes and picked up by their fleece and ears and thrown into pens. The footage showed inadequate, botched and multiple stunning and the sadistic use of stunning equipment to “punish” animals.

Neither the government-appointed, on-site veterinarians nor the abattoir operators had detected a single illegal act that was filmed.

That’s why we’re getting behind an online petition to make closed-circuit television (CCTV) mandatory in all abattoirs – the first step towards creating transparency and stopping workers from getting away with abusing animals.

CCTV would act as a deterrent to those who would otherwise abuse animals and would also provide evidence for prosecutions when staff did harm them. Although it won’t end animal suffering in abattoirs, it is an invaluable tool that would help veterinarians and animal welfare officers protect animals from gratuitous abuse, incompetence and negligence.

We need to reach 100,000 signatures on the petition to make sure it is debated in Parliament and to ensure that politicians take this issue seriously. Please sign the petition today and help build the momentum by sharing it as widely as possible.

Sign the petition here!

Animal testing is on the up…

Earlier this month the Home Office released statistics on the number of experiments on animals conducted last year. It’s not good news.

(video still) monkey with injuries being restrained by a person

Peta reports –

In 2013, animal testers in Great Britain used more than 4.01 million animals in experiments, a 52 per cent increase since 2000. The number of experiments was the highest in a generation – a  step backwards for scientific progress in this country and a catastrophe for the millions of animals who live and die in laboratory cages.

Most of these animals lost their lives because of genetic engineering experiments, an imprecise, inefficient and unreliable “Frankenstein science” in which mothers undergo invasive procedures to insert or delete certain genes in their offspring. Only 3 to 5 per cent of all animals born actually carry the genes of interest, and the rest of the babies are usually killed soon after birth. Of the ones allowed to live, the young often die prematurely or are born with unpredictable behavioural and physiological abnormalities, such as increased sensitivity to pain, malfunctioning organs, susceptibility to seizures or rampant tumour growth. There were also dramatic increases in the number of experiments conducted on monkeys and guinea pigs.

Statistics can never reveal the full extent of suffering endured by each and every one of the individuals who were poisoned, cut open, blinded, electrocuted or infected with deadly diseases in barren, windowless prisons. We don’t even know the full extent of the abuse, as experiments on animals in the UK are currently shrouded in a veil of secrecy – something that we’ve been working hard to change.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s no excuse for this hidden massacre. Although animals have the same capacity to feel fear and pain that humans have, our physiology is vastly different. And that is why animal experiments are not good science.

Evidence recently published in the BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) demonstrates that experiments on animals systematically fail to benefit humans. Instead, they lead to expensive and fruitless clinical trials, which can endanger human life, cause millions of animals to suffer, cost billions of pounds and lead researchers away from possible beneficial therapies.

Forward-thinking researchers have succeeded in developing reliable alternatives to harming animals. For example, new “organs-on-chips” contain lab-grown human cells which mimic the structure and function of human organs, while MatTek’s EpiDermTM Tissue Model, a 3-dimensional, human cell–derived skin model, replicates key traits of normal human skin.

These are the types of innovative projects that Britain needs to invest in. Instead, the preoccupation with archaic, unreliable and unethical tests on animals is dragging down scientific progress – and taking millions of animals with it.

Why I don’t wear wool…

I don’t wear wool for much the same reasons that I don’t eat meat or dairy – I can live perfectly happily without it and so why would I not choose to avoid it altogether when there is so much inherent cruelty necessary to produce it.  I have read too many reports, watched too many documentaries, subjected myself to too much heartbreaking undercover footage to allow myself to turn a blind eye any longer. 

Anything which is trying to profit from restricting, harming or interfering with an animal’s life is inherently problematic because when turning a profit is the aim then the animal’s welfare inevitably gets compromised.  As with other industries where animals are raised for a profit, the interests of the animals used in the wool industry are rarely considered. Flocks usually consist of thousands of sheep, and individual attention to their needs is virtually impossible. Many people believe that shearing sheep helps animals who might otherwise be burdened with too much wool, but without human interference, sheep grow just enough wool to protect themselves from temperature extremes.

Australia produces about a quarter of all wool used worldwide. Within weeks of birth, lambs’ ears are hole-punched, their tails are chopped off, and the males are castrated without anesthetics. Shearers are usually paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast work without regard for the welfare of the sheep. Says one eyewitness: “[T]he shearing shed must be one of the worst places in the world for cruelty to animals … I have seen shearers punch sheep with their shears or their fists until the sheep’s nose bled. I have seen sheep with half their faces shorn off …”

In Australia, the most commonly raised sheep are merinos, specifically bred to have wrinkly skin, which means more wool per animal. This unnatural overload of wool causes animals to die of heat exhaustion during hot months, and the wrinkles also collect urine and moisture. Attracted to the moisture, flies lay eggs in the folds of skin, and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. To prevent this so-called “flystrike,” Australian ranchers perform a barbaric operation—mulesing—or carving huge strips of flesh off the backs of lambs’ legs and around their tails. This is done to cause smooth, scarred skin that won’t harbor fly eggs, yet the bloody wounds often get flystrike before they heal. Every year, hundreds of lambs die before the age of 8 weeks from exposure or starvation, and mature sheep die every year from disease, lack of shelter, and neglect.

Mulesing is an incredibly cruel practice and as soon as I read about this I knew that I would never buy anything made from or containing wool again.  Even if I could ensure that the wool products I was buying were not from sheep that had been mulesed (which is almost impossible to do) why would I want to support this industry in any way.  It’s much the same reason I wouldn’t wear fake fur – I don’t want to be seen to glamorise, promote or support the wearing of fur, fake or real, in any way whatsoever.  

Google Mulesing to find out more about it and if that doesn’t make you question whether or not you should be wearing wool then have a look at this week’s undercover investigation into the cruel reality of sheep shearing that is going on throughout Australia today. Undercover reporters gained employment in 19 different shearing sheds across Australia and filmed the goings on… It is not easy reading or watching I warn you but if you are someone who buys/wears wool clothing then you have a right to know what cruelty and abuse you are unwittingly paying for and supporting…

The RSPCA has launched an investigation into footage that allegedly shows the severe abuse of sheep in numerous Australian shearing sheds.

The animal rights group Peta has released video it says was taken covertly in 19 shearing sheds in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

The footage shows sheep being roughly handled, punched in the face and stamped upon. One sheep was beaten with a hammer while another was shown having a deep cut crudely sewn up.

Peta said its investigators obtained had the images after gaining employment with farms and shearing contractors over the past year.

Claire Fryer, a campaign coordinator at Peta Australia, declined to tell Guardian Australia the exact location of the shearing sheds, citing concerns about the safety of the whistleblowers.

“I can say, though, that abuse was witnessed in each of the 19 shearing sheds and that a total of 70 staff were documented abusing sheep,” she said.

“We didn’t see any vet care for any of the sheep and despite, them putting up no resistance, they were horribly abused. Sheep are very gentle animals and this was terrifying for them.

“Shearers are unusually paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast, rough work which cuts the bodies of sheep. Put simply, there is no such thing as humane wool. We’d urge Australians to leave wool out of their wardrobes entirely.”

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA confirmed it was investigating whether the video shows breaches of animal welfare laws, but would not put a timeframe on these deliberations.

“The vision made publicly available by Peta overnight shows sheep being beaten with shearing handpieces and thrown down a chute,” the RSPCA said.

“The allegations are serious and will be investigated by RSPCA inspectors as information comes to hand for potential breaches of the relevant state animal welfare legislation.”

Penalties for breaching animal welfare laws vary by state. For example, in NSW, the maximum penalty is a fine of $22,000 or five years in prison.

Barnaby Joyce, the federal agriculture minister, said questions needed to be asked about the way Peta obtained the footage and why it held on to it for so long before releasing it.

“One of the questions I ask is with the up-close shot of the man hitting the sheep, which is obviously exceptional and cruel and in many instances would be immediate dismissal, where exactly was the camera?” Joyce told the ABC.

“Did the person know that they were filmed? Were they actually part of process? There are lots of questions that need to be asked.”

WoolProducers, the peak body for the wool industry in Australia, has been contacted for comment on the footage.

The Victorian government recently pledged to introduce new “ag gag” laws, which would crack down on the ability of animal rights activists to covertly film alleged abuses on farms.

Producers of eggs and pork have called for stricter penalties for people who obtain access to farms in order to film activity there. Andrew Spencer, chief executive of Australian Pork Limited, told the ABC in May that intrusions had been “very distressing” for farmers. He added: “It’s like having your house burgled.”

The Greens criticised Joyce, who recently indicated his own support for a form of “ag gag” law.

“Mr Joyce’s attack on Peta is a crude attempt to avoid cleaning up farming practices,” said the Greens senator Lee Rhiannon.

“He wants to punish people who expose cruelty to animals with harsher penalties than to those who actually commit the violence.

“Undercover investigators play an important role as exposure of animal cruelty helps highlight the need for improved farming practices.”

The governments reaction to this – to try and tighten the laws on people filming undercover – just sums it all up.  Animal welfare is bottom of the agenda.  Protecting their export businesses, economy and reputation is all that matters.  They don’t give a s*** about animal rights and it disgusts me.  The only comfort I have is that I can say that I no longer contribute to this and I hope that the more people are told about this the less wool people will buy and the more animals will be spared.