Where the quality of mercy is not strained
"In a country that lavishes love and legal protections on house pets, factory-farmed animals are left out in the cold, exempt from almost all animal-cruelty laws. As a result they suffer torture and other mistreatment to a degree that is hard to imagine."
- The New York Times; The Editorial Board; August 8, 2015
Compassion for Farm Animals seeks to educate consumers about the cruelty that is both legal and commonplace in modern industrial agriculture.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), so-called factory farms — as distinct from the traditional small diversified family operations — directly or indirectly account for almost all of the animal products consumed each year.
That means there is an overwhelming probability that the animal product on any plate at any meal at any time in America got there after having been severely confined, abused or tortured.
While it may be convenient to blame the owners or operators of factory farms — many of whom are families — such condemnation is simplistic and wrong. Social and technological change over the last century have created a Hobson's Choice for farmers, forcing them to choose between the welfare of their animals and the welfare of their families.
"Some of the things that make capitalism a good economic system — technology, specialization, low-cost production, and competition — are the very things that push farmers to adopt practices that oppress animals," wrote Hope College professor Steven McMullen in the Journal of Animal Ethics. "In a competitive market, profit margins are extremely small, and so farmers either have to adopt the low-cost production methods or go out of business."
Some of those low-cost (and entirely legal) production methods could reasonably be considered torture, and are described elsewhere on this website.
Given its systemic roots, the surest way to end the suffering of farm animals is to eliminate demand for those "products" raised through inhumane technologies.
Each person adopting a vegan diet could save 95 lives a year.
In the time it took to read the above paragraphs, an estimated 108,058 chickens, 5,326 ducks, 32,929 pigs, 1,627 turkeys, and 687 cows and calves will have been slaughtered — some while fully conscious — and most without ever having sniffed the outside air, rolled in the grass, or experienced anything that could reasonably be considered a life.
"Their lives are filled with pain, confusion, and loneliness," wrote Gene Baur, who co-founded the nation's first sanctuary for farm animals. "They go to their deaths having never experienced anything resembling human kindness."
Saving farm animals from intense suffering is not an ideological issue.
Mathew Scully, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, called industrial farming "a serious moral problem, a truly rotten business for good reason passed over in polite conversation." The conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote that "our great-grandchildren will find it difficult to believe that we actually raised, herded, and slaughtered [animals] on an industrial scale — for the eating." And the former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart and wife Tracey recently turned a New Jersey farm into a sanctuary for rescued farm animals.
Extending compassion to farm animals gives us the chance to be a part of something great, something historic, something far larger than ourselves.
As the Greek historian Plutarch once wrote, "For the sake of a little flesh, we deprive the animals of the sun, of the light, of the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being."
Compassion for Farm Animals is about giving them back their sun, their light, and the quality of life that all creatures deserve. It is about us seeking the better angels of our nature.
With knowledge and commitment, those better angels can and will prevail.
Yours for a kinder world,
Founder & Executive director