According to Singer, the consumption of meat is expected to double across the world by the year 2020. Nevertheless, this is happening at a time when the subject of meat consumption is continuing to raise a lot of debate globally, especially in Europe and North America (112-13). The main focus of this debate is on the justification of the entire process of industrial meat production. This debate also seeks to establish whether it is morally defensible to eat animals.
The diagnosis of the mad cow disease in Europe shocked a lot of people across the world not only because it tainted the image of beef as a healthy and secure food, but also because people discovered that the disease emerged because cows were being fed with nerve tissues and brains of sheep. It came to the attention of people who idealistically thought that cows eat grass, that in reality, they were being fed with a lot of unbelievable stuff such as chicken litter, fish meal and waste from slaughter houses (Singer 114-15).
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This issue raises a lot of concern about the way people treat farm animals, and if people are really justified to eat meat.
Most vegetarians argue that it is unethical to eat meat, even though this argument is not widely acceptable. Nevertheless, Singer believes that people are justified to eat meat provided that they give animals a respectable way of life before slaughtering them. According to Jim Mason, industrial agriculture refutes animals of their right to live a decent life. For instance, most chicken that are produced through industrial agriculture are usually denied the chance to go outdoors. They are also usually made to have insatiable appetites so that they eat so much and increase their weight very fast. The high level of ammonia in their sheds, which arises from their accumulated droppings, affects their eyes and lungs. In addition, they are slaughtered at very tender ages when they have not even matured enough. Some of them even collapse and die because they are unable to access water and food, and their fate is usually of very little concern or none at all to the total enterprise (Singer 115).
According to Jim Mason, this condition is further worsened when these chicken are crowed in wire cages such that they can not even spread their wings. Under such conditions, the more prevailing and aggressive chickens peck the weaker ones and sometimes even kill them. To prevent such a situation, producers usually burn the beaks of the aggressive birds with a hot blade, a process that is usually very painful (Singer 116).
Apart from hens, pigs are also the other type of animals that are usually mistreated by many producers. Naturally, pigs are animals that usually explore their environment so much. Before sows give birth, they use twigs and leaves of plants to make a safe and comfortable place where they can nurse their litter. However, in the contemporary factory farms, pregnant sows are usually kept in very narrow crates that don't allow them even to make small moves. In addition, these crates are usually placed on uncovered concrete which is usually too cold and uncomfortable. When the sows give birth, the piglets are moved away from them so that they can be allowed to get pregnant again. They are never allowed to leave their sheds until the time when they are about to be slaughtered (Singer 117).
The aforementioned examples are only but few critical examples which illustrate how animals are usually mistreated by food production firms. Even though the people who use these production methods claim that it is necessary for them to do it because of the ever-increasing food demands of the population, it is important for them to note that animals are living creatures which deserve to have proper living conditions just like human beings. The confinement of animals in specific areas makes them burn most of their calories so as to be able to warm their bodies and breathe well. Therefore, they need to be provided with enough and appropriate food and space for them to breed well.
In addition, animals need to be given some time to also explore their environment (Singer 118).
In conclusion, it is important to note that it is heartrending that many countries in the world, such as India and China are aping western methods of rearing animals in very huge industrial farms so as to be able to cope up with their ever-increasing population of people. The end result is that animals end up suffering. This situation also escalates environmental degradation and the prevalence of diseases such as cancer and heart infections. It is therefore the moral responsibility of all consumers of meat products to stop the use of products that come from firms that use cruel means to rear animals, and which also produce harmful products that might harm their bodies.
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