Animals are not a utility

April 5th, 2013 atam Posted in Animal welfare, Climate change, Earth, Food | No Comments »

Bird flu, swine flu, mad cow disease….

What’s the solution then? More culling of innocent animals bred in horrendous conditions just to meet the global demand for meat?

Whenever it is suggested that we should eat less meat if not forgo it altogether, some clever soul would point out that our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who ate a mix of meat and plants. Well yes. They had to hunt or search for days on end, either for half-eaten carcasses left by other animals, or animals that they could kill themselves. They did not eat animals everyday, at every meal.

Today we are eating meat on such a scale that we’ve forgotten that animals are living beings and not manufactured goods that can be turned out on a production line. Infectious diseases spread rapidly in cities because of the density of urban populations, which makes it so easy for viruses to jump from one person to another. For the luckier ones who don’t have to live 20 to a tiny room, there are at least walls to act as barriers between neighbours. No such luck for the animals bred for human consumption. They are packed in close quarters at factory farms where viruses happily cross from one victim to another, quickly mutating in the process.

To turn a quicker profit, these animals are fed anything from antibiotics to steroids so they can grow faster, leaner, whatever.

When are we going to learn that animals are not a utility there to satisfy our unhealthy obsession with meaty diets? They are part of the ecosystem, not a factory product. Permaculture recognises this; that’s why, instead of promoting vegetarianism, its idea is to develop farming methods that respect the way nature works. Chickens eat the worms on the vegetables patch, their droppings going to fertilise the soil and feeding the fish in the pond so that a balance of animal protein and vegetables can be harvested. The chickens can roam around, the vegetables are grown organically and the soil is not degraded by artificial fertilisers.

Instead, we are making ourselves sick eating too much meat while the planet runs out of resources. Someone’s making lots of money though, from pushing meat products produced in conditions that are conducive to disease.

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