‘Humane and Free-range’ – Is there such a thing?
Every non-vegan, when his/her lifestyle choices are challenged, seems to have the perfect solution to the current system of animal agriculture which is based on animal abuse-free-range farms, where animals roam around without constraint and leading happy and healthy lives and where eggs, dairy and meat are obtained from them ‘humanely’. When it is their time to die, they are killed swiftly with a single movement of the knife.
Let us assume that the aforementioned conditions would indeed be satisfied by the animal agriculture industry which has been lying blatantly to the general public about where their food comes from until now. or even better, let us assume that it is achieved through small-scale farms and farmers on who, let’s assume, there is no influence of the industry or the animal husbandry department. I have a few questions about such a scenario that I hope welfarists and free-range advocates will be able to answer. Here are a few of them:
- What exactly is your definition of humane? Do you really think that there is such a thing as humane slaughter? How about humane murder, humane rape and humane genocide? Do they exist too?
- How does one know whether a farm they are buying from is kind to animals? Do they visit the farm regularly to make sure? If they indeed do so, wouldn’t it be easier to follow a plant-based diet instead?
- What do the people, who buy free-range eat when dining out? What products do they buy at supermarkets or at the local store? Since there is no way to ascertain the source of the animal products, do they only buy vegan when not at home? Once again, is it not easier to follow a vegan lifestyle, which makes much more sense ethically, than to constantly keep a tab on the long list of animal-derived ingredients in the products that one buys while eating out or at a store?
- How do you plan to sustain an entire population on a free-range diet? The last time i checked, we require almost 1.1 billion land animals to provide milk and meat to the Indian population of 1.21 billion. India is the third largest contributor to global warming, and it’s livestock production is one of the biggest causes. Globally, animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to climate change. Let us assume that the free-range advocates’ endeavors actually work and more and more people switch to free-range. The number of cattle will increase because, unlike in the present system, the calves would be allowed to drink the required quantity of milk from their mothers before the cows are for what little is left by human hands. The animals are allowed to roam free, apparently, and so, the space occupied by an animal will increase several times the space occupied by him/her now. Since, in a free-range universe, there are also a lot more animals than there are today, the percentage of land occupied by farm animals which is already quite large would be significantly larger. More rain-forests will be destroyed. Many more wild animals will be forced into extinction. If all the 60-odd billion animals who we raise for human consumption were to be free-range, there will be little space left for human beings to dwell on the planet.
- Why is it that the concept of ‘free-range’ and ‘humane’ only comes up when veganism is brought up? Why do non-vegans not even consider it unless their choices are questioned by the radical idea of veganism which emphasizes on total abolition?
- Does it really work? More often than not, the so-called ‘humane’ animal products are nothing but a gambit by the meat and dairy industries to counter the increasing awareness of industry practices and of the availability of a simple and effective solution in the form of veganism among the public. Undercover footage of many farms labelled ‘free-range’ and ‘humane’ reveal the same level of atrocious animal abuse that happens on a daily basis on regular farms. Also, there is also the inherent cruelty associated with any farm, free-range or not. Artificial insemination(rape) and selecting breeding are common practices. Why would anyone choose to promote an alternative that is almost as bad as the current method while the ethical and the more efficient alternative of veganism is easily available.
- Are animals ‘products’? If your answer is yes’, I would recommend consulting a good psychiatrist. if your answer is ‘no’, my question to you is, why do you promote them as products? Habit? Fear of change? convenience? Just because you treat them ‘right’ doesn’t mean that they’re anything more than a product to you. The truth is that you’re still commodifying them. I urge you to think about how mundane and ridiculous your excuses are when looked at from the victims’ point of view.
- Doesn’t the idea of animal products gross you out? Can’t you see them for what they really are – mutilated corpses, bovine mammary secretions, bee vomit, dead skin, chicken periods? Doesn’t the idea of a human being down on his knees, sucking on the breast of reluctant cow with his bare hands disgust you? I find it a crude, pathetic and a perverse action, especially so, considering that the end product is a greasy pus-filled liquid which is one of the most unhealthiest ‘foods’ on the planet.
I will leave you to meditate on the issues I raised above and to either make the connection or come up with more excuses. Any queries and discussions in the ‘Comments’ section are welcome.