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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So we all know about the horrors of factory farming. These days, concerned consumers are looking for more ethically sound and healthier alternatives, so "humane" farming is gaining in popularity. Some of us who took up veg*nism in adulthood might have started our respective journeys by seeking out such products, only to give them up entirely upon further learning and reflection.

There is SO much information out there about factory farms, but I've been hard-pressed to find much of anything that addresses "humane" farming. Does anyone know of published literature from reliable, credible authors who specifically set out to debunk the myths associated with family farms, organic animal products, locally-raised meat and poultry, cage-free eggs, local dairy, etc.?

I was checking out humanemyth.org, hoping to find a list of references that would point me in the direction of some credible literature in the book world, and I couldn't find anything. It's a very informative site, but I'm looking for published literature that contains notes and references. The closest I've come is a few paragraphs in Gary Francione's Introduction to Animal Rights (a great read, by the way), but the section isn't nearly as detailed as his discussion of factory farms.

Thanks!
 

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Yeah, I was going to recommend Francione. I know the guy from vegan freak radio (r.i.p.) would rant about so called "happy meat", don't know if he wrote about it though. You can check out Gary's other books (I'd skim the contents section or something) or his website www.abolitionistapproach.com. Singer is a louse when it comes to that issue (he's in favor of happy meat basically) so I wouldn't bother with him.

To me, though, the best argument is simply that if you're opposed to abuse you should be opposed to murder as murder is on the end of the continuum of abuse.

Are you writing a paper or just looking out of your own interest?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Alain! I'll check out more of Francione's work. Actually reading the second edition of Vegan Freak right now -- maybe I'll stumble upon some info relevant to my question as I continue reading. I looked at the radio show's website after I saw that you mentioned it in your response -- it looks like they stopped updating in 2009, and I can't open the radio tab.
About Singer, I'm not quite sure why so many people attribute a true animal rights stance to him. From what I hear, he's done a lot of great work in the area of animal welfare, but that's definitely not the same thing.

Nope, no paper -- part of my journey into veganhood is doing a ton of reading. Thank goodness I have access to an extensive academic library; otherwise, I'd be tempted to buy every book i can get my hands on!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SadieP View Post

I looked at the radio show's website after I saw that you mentioned it in your response -- it looks like they stopped updating in 2009, and I can't open the radio tab.
don't remind me


Quote:
About Singer, I'm not quite sure why so many people attribute a true animal rights stance to him. From what I hear, he's done a lot of great work in the area of animal welfare, but that's definitely not the same thing.
Well, he wrote the book called Animal Rights lol (which I never read, I've heard some people say that's his position on animal ethics has changed over time) and the media is decades behind on the issue so the information ends up being distorted. Good luck on your studies!
 

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Why bother to refute any of that locavore stuff? I run across people whose only meat is from locally raised, grass-fed livestock and pastured chickens. Not very many people at all eat like that, and the ones who do throw around all kinds of data that Elaine's sites don't even address, much less refute. They talk about ways of rotating crops with pastured cattle that help the pastures hang onto their topsoil and get those pastures into shape to grow more crops than pasture grass in coming years. Organic farmers say they could not produce if they didn't have bone meal, blood meal and manure to use on their crops, crops that produce some of the food I eat. And they talk about the parts of the world where crops don't grow but pasture grass does, enough to support the livestock that feeds the locals. These are the sorts of issues that need to be handled full-on if you're in a dialog with a locavore who eats meat. I too would like to see some good information to help me hold up my end in some of those discussions.

Locavores object to factory farming, for some of the reasons we do. They also understand that vegans and vegetarians have objections to killing animals apart from objecting to factory farms. Their way is not not our way, but it is another way of eating like you give a damn. I have no quarrel with those people as long as they're not trying to ram their entrees down my throat.
 

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a) It's true that not very many people are actual locavores. When people start talking about "humane meat" it's usually pretty easy to just press them for a couple details and find out they're just saying that they support small, local, organic farms but in reality they buy factory farmed animal products most often. So that's a good starting place. Get them to commit to boycotting factory farmed products and start doing what they say they're doing.

b) A lot of people are very confused about "organic meat" or milk. All you have to say is that organic only refers to the food the animals were fed and stuff like antibiotics and hormones. The organic lable says nothing about how the animals were treated or what happened to the unprofitable male dairy calves or male chicks.

c) About "pastured cattle" you can remind people that our native lands supported grazing animals and current protected lands support grazing animals like buffalo and burros. You can simply remind people that we needn't milk or kill grazing animals in order to benefit from their activities on our lands. And in fact, what's happened in much of the USA is that wild grazing animals are being displaced so that farmed meat animals can graze instead. (Look into the wild horse roundups in Nevada to learn more about that.)

d) About organic farmers using animal biproducts, well you can just say that technology can and will solve those issues and that there is such a thing as veganic agriculture. People are developing better systems than our current system.

e) About "the parts of the world where crops don't grow but pasture grass does": those parts are far and few between. One could argue that if plant food sources aren't available then perhaps it's not a good spot for humans to live there. Afterall, humans need more than just meat. But even if some people live there, with local food sources so scant the human population would have to be limited and it's just not a big deal. It certainly has nothing to do with anyone you're actually talking to when you're having these conversations. The people who live in situations like that are remote! They are not arguing with vegans about the ethics of humane meat. Rather, this excuse is a common excuse used by people who are in reality paying people to cut down rain forests in order to obtain "grass-fed organic beef."

f) People who say stuff about "cage-free" eggs and "pastured" beef can benefit from this list from humanefacts.org: http://www.humanefacts.org/labels.htm
Examples: the terms "cage-free" and "pastured" are not regulated. The terms on packages simply don't really mean anything.

g) You asked for specific resources to address the issues of humane meat. Well, the book Eating Animals is a good one. He sets out to take an unbiased look at animal agriculture and investigates the issue as much as possible. The book is very well researched. Here are a couple excellent quotes from the book:

Quote:
"We shouldn't kid ourselves about the number of ethical eating options available to most of us. There isn't enough nonfactory chicken produced in America to feed the population of Staten Island and not enough nonfactory pork to serve New York City, let alone the country. Ethical meat is a promissory note, not a reality. Any ethical-meat advocate who is serious is going to be eating a lot of vegetarian fare." (Eating Animals, page 256)

Page 244: "If animal agriculture has become a joke, perhaps this is the punch line: even Bill Niman has said he would no longer eat Niman Ranch beef."

Page 168: "Anyone who suggests that there is a perfect symbiosis between the farmers' interest and the animals' is probably trying to sell you something (and it's not made of tofu)."
 

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Hi, Sadie! Maybe you're looking for hard, solid facts and this won't help you, but here's my take on it:

I can believe someone might produce humane milk, in theory. Someone could conceivably have cows for milk and farm work and still care about them as individuals, breeding onl;y enough animals to keep the herd at the farm's sustainable level, and only taking what milk was produced in excess of what the calves needed. (Of course, this system would never produce milk at the rate it's currently consumed!)

But... raise an animal... ANY animal... with the ultimate intention to kill and eat him/her, and genuinely care at all about them until butchering day?... Not one "happy meat" advocate has ever explained precisely how that works in a convincing way. I've just read a lot of pseudomystical babble about how they respect the animal. Nope- not buying it.
 

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Conversations like this usually don't last long between me and omnivores. I usually run into a dead-end in these types of exchanges because I reject the notion that it can ever be humane to decide when another living being ought to die.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Elaine: Thank you so much for all of that great information. I've heard of Eating Animals, so I'll definitely have to add it to my reading list.
Industry is definitely responsible for the all of the confusion about "humane" farming -- all for profit.


Joan: I'm totally with you on that. The thing is that various family members are moving in the locavore direction, and I would like to read up on arguments on both sides so that, if the topic of animal agriculture comes up in conversation, I can be well-educated on the issues and thus better prepared to defend my position.

Tom: I was actually just describing that very concept to my boyfriend earlier tonight when we were discussing these issues. You're right, the processing of nothing but excess milk wouldn't come close to the amount in demand. Plus, no one wanting to make a profit is going to take the time, energy, and resources to produce perfectly humane dairy products, anyway. And it would likewise be inefficient for profit-seekers to provide lifelong care for the male chicks who obviously won't be able to produce eggs when they reach maturity. Hence veganism.

Jo: Exactly. In the end, it boils down to values, and I believe it's impossible to debate values using sound logic. Certainly you can argue from a utilitarian standpoint and argue for a particular value-based option according to its consequences. But debating values themselves is, logically speaking, futile. Unfortunately.
 

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Activists can get boxed in when they try to educate people on the cruel stuff that goes on in animal agriculture. A lot of what is in the leaflets and films can be taken as reason to know your producer, or grow your own, rather than only as reason to avoid animal products altogether. Although it's true that not everyone has the option to raise their own or buy from someone they know personally who does, that truth becomes meaningless when you're talking to someone whose protein comes from their own goats and birds.

I have locavore friends and relatives, and we talk. When you're in a dialog with an informed locavore, they can make you feel stupid if you're not informed too. Being hands-on, they have the edge in some ways. Like about eggs and chickens: We feel strongly about the male baby chicks. But talk to a locavore with a coop, and they'll tell you about the breeds they choose, which work equally well for egg and meat production -- unlike the specialized breeds industry uses. So no baby chicks in the meat grinder. No birds so top-heavy they can't walk. No debeaking. No stinky concentrated living space. Again, the fact that most people don't eat this way becomes meaningless once you're talking to someone who does. Why even argue with them? Their truth is their truth, and they'll respect you for the path you've taken as long as you're not trying to knock them off their own. At some point they either will or won't have their own "aha" moment, after which they won't be able to stomach dead flesh. But we can't orchestrate that moment for them, not while they're up to their elbows in chicken guts and still have an appetite for chicken.
 
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