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A Humane Method of Killing Animals for Meat
Cruelty to Animals
I want us to come up with a method of humane slaughter for animals. I’m not a vegetarian. I eat meat. In fact, I used to be married to a cattle and hog producer. I think God put animals here for our use, but not for our abuse. I hate the way most meat animals are treated. Many are kept in tiny cages or small pens, and they never have any quality of life. Our animals weren’t treated this way. I guess ours were what would now be referred to as “free range.” Our livestock, however, was free range before the term became popular. Most meat animals in the South raised on family farms are still free range. We don’t have many of the huge feed lots like the Midwest does. This, however, has already been discussed in other hubs. Today I want to focus on the actual killing of the abused animals. I also want to suggest a way to save the animals from a cruel death.
Animal Cruelty - Animal Welfare
If you’ve never visited the business end of a slaughterhouse, you’d most likely be shocked by what you saw. I’ve been in several and have seen videos of numerous others. Most slaughterhouses do not even attempt to kill the animals in a humane manner. They’re often beaten, kicked, and shocked with electric prods as they’re forced into the chutes. This is a clear example of cruelty to animals.
And it's not just the actual killing that disturbs me. I don't like how many of the animals are treated while being shipped to the slaughterhouse. They might have to go for days without food or water, crowded into trailers with barely enough room to breathe. Once they reach the slaughterhouse, they might be help in small holding pens, again without food or water, until it's time for them to face death. Surely the process can be more concerned with animal welfare!
More Cruelty to Animals
How are the animals killed? Some of it depends on the individual slaughterhouse, but cows and pigs are usually stunned with a powerful electrical shock. The abused animals are then hung upside down by either one or both hind legs, and their throats are cut. This allows the animals to “bleed out.” Supposedly, the animal is dead before it’s sent to the meat butcher, but this isn’t always the case. Animals are sometimes skinned, gutted, or dismembered while they’re still alive. Hogs are sometimes boiled alive. The slaughtering process is done so quickly that line workers and the meat butcher don’t always wait for the animals to be dead before they start hacking them up.
Another method of slaughter is the captive-bolt pistol. With this method, a heavy metal rod is shot into the animal’s forehead to render it unconscious. This was pretty quick and effective, but after the mad cow disease scare, the penetrating captive-bolt gun was largely discontinued. Since the rod actually penetrated the brain, brain tissue infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) could infect other tissues once it was hit with the steel rod. Now, unfortunately, a less effective type of captive-bolt gun is used – the non-penetrating gun. This type of stunner uses a mushroom-shaped rod to deliver a powerful blow to the animal’s forehead, but it doesn’t penetrate. As a result, animals are not always rendered unconscious. And even those that are sometimes don’t remain unconscious for very long. Animals with thick hair and thick skulls are especially immune to unconsciousness from a non-penetrating captive-bolt pistol. These poor abused animals have to suffer the tortures of the slaughter process while fully aware of what’s going on.
Kosher meat and halal meat
Even worse are the slaughter practices in some religions. According to kashrut (Jewish) and halal (Muslim) religious laws, the animals cannot be stunned at all. They have to be conscious at the point of death, when their carotid artery is cut. I totally do not understand the reasoning behind this! It doesn’t seem like kosher meat should be obtained this way. We usually think of “kosher” being a positive term. This isn’t the case with kosher meat, however.
Save the animals from torture
There just has to be a better, more humane way! Can’t we save the animals we eat from an agonizing death? Why can’t animals meant for human consumption be euthanized? I’m not a scientist, a doctor, or a biologist, so I have no idea whether or not lethal doses of drugs would affect the muscle tissue of the animal and be harmful to humans. But what about carbon monoxide? Would animals killed by carbon monoxide inhalation be safe for humans to consume?
Okay, let’s just say for now that meat from a cow or pig killed by carbon monoxide or drugs is perfectly safe for the dinner table. The process would be much slower for the meat butcher, which means that the meat would be more expensive for packers to obtain and more expensive for consumers in the grocery stores. So what? I’d be willing to pay a little more for meat if it meant that the animals didn’t have to suffer the cruel practices of the typical slaughterhouse. And I know that I’m not alone here.
According to Gandhi, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If that’s the case, my fellow Americans, we’re a country of barbarians! We, as Americans, are guilty of immense animal cruelty and suffering. I realize that most people don't even want to think about this as they're enjoying a T-bone steak or a barbecued pork chop, but the fact is inescapable. A lot of animal suffering and animal cruelty go into those neatly wrapped trays of meat you find in the supermarket. Surely in this day and age, we have the ability to lessen cruelty to animals with methods of humane slaughter.
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