J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted May 1, 2011

Published in Animals

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Suffering of Animals -- Remember Michael Vick?

Read More: animal cruelty, animal suffering

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An article by Mark Bittman in the New York Times on April 26 prompted me to write this piece. While a full chapter in our book is devoted to it, this is my first full blog on this miserable topic. After 81 consecutive days of blogging, I figured it's about time for me to tell you how I feel.

First of all, almost no one in this country actually likes the idea of any animals having to suffer -- especially those poor animals who suffer at the hands of humans. That probably even includes Michael Vick. As Jonathan Saffran Foer pointed out in his book, Eating Animals, there is no other single topic on which so many people agree. But out of sight -- out of mind is the order of the day in the good old USA.

Over 99 percent of our chickens and eggs come from factory farms like this. People talk about "free range" but it's almost non-existent.

None of us want animals to suffer, yet we willingly participate in an industry that probably is responsible for 90% of ALL animal suffering in the world -- including those animals in the wild. How so?

My conclusion is that wild animals only suffer briefly when they are killed or eaten by their natural predator -- whereas the sixty billion animals we raise for our dinner tables around the world suffer every minute of their lives.

Home on the range...ain't what it used to be -- a typical feedlot where most of our beef comes from these days.

In the article, Bittman wrote about "Who protects the animals?" (See link to complete article below) While referring to himself and most of us as "omnivores," he writes about protecting those ten billion animals a year who suffer in the United States so that we may enjoy eating their flesh without feeling guilty. Why does he not support getting rid of the whole industry?

I should mention that Mark was writing to object to the efforts of three states to criminalize the reporting of what goes on behind the "closed doors" of our industrial food complex. In a related Times editorial on the same day (2nd link below), it led off with the following:

A supermarket shopper buying hamburger, eggs or milk has every reason, and every right, to wonder how they were produced. The answer, in industrial agriculture, is “behind closed doors,” and that’s how the industry wants to keep it. In at least three states — Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota — legislation is moving ahead that would make undercover investigations in factory farms, especially filming and photography, a crime. The legislation has only one purpose: to hide factory-farming conditions from a public that is beginning to think seriously about animal rights and the way food is produced.

One of the smartest animals, pigs get a bad rap -- most live their complete lives in horrid conditions until they reach their ultimate destiny as part of your breakfast, your pizza topping or your barbecue sandwich.

Mark has been writing great articles on our food industry for years and he, better than almost anyone, knows that eating their flesh promotes our chronic disease. He has also written about our western feeding model as being the "most harmful, wasteful and unsustainable" system that could possibly be devised. Yet, he himself, continues to be an "omnivore."

Being an omnivore, he always comes up short when it comes to writing about the ultimate solution to all of the above. Why not just end the madness, stop eating animals and their products, and return as swiftly as possible to the natural diet for our species. (Read this if you're worried about getting enough protein?)

After looking through the above photos of typical factory farms, we must ask ourselves, "What are we teaching our children when we continue to thoughtlessly continue to support these nasty businesses?" Maybe this quote from our book will help jolt you into action...

"Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar."

—Bradley Miller

Every species has a natural diet; herbivores eat plants and carnivores eat meat (after killing it themselves and then eating it raw). Like our closest relatives in the wild, we are herbivores and ending the needless suffering of billions of animals a year is just one of a host of improvements that would result from our return to that natural diet -- as we promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

A dog gets his revenge on Michael Vick; our food animals get their revenge by giving us heart disease, diabetes and an early trip to the old nursing home.

One final question for you. Is our continued support for a global system that causes the life-long suffering of sixty billion animals a year that much different than Michael Vick and his cronies causing a few dozen dogs to suffer and die? Are we any less guilty?

Then there's horse-racing; just another way that humans have devised to amuse themselves at the expense of animals. "They shoot horses, don't they?"

Great thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and others have long advocated a meatless diet for the human race. I will end today with this quote by another great thinker (also in our book)...

“I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals; as surely as the savage tribes left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Ready to kick the meat and dairy habit? Just climb aboard our 4-Leaf train and enjoy the warm feeling that you will no longer be supporting a system that causes the needless suffering of sixty billion animals a year. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day…

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at 

Who Protects the Animals? - (Bittman article)

Hiding the Truth About Factory Farms - (editorial)