I was a livestock farmer, many of my friends are or have been farmers and we all have carried out our trade with a sense of honour and morality. However I am now a vegan, brought on by a health scare sufficient to frighten me from eating animal origin foods.
I am now seeing the world from a different perspective and what I see is something that farmers and indeed all New Zealanders should heed.
In my youth every kiwi lived on a farm, very near a farm or frequently visited a farm. In those days the practices carried out on farms were known and accepted by all. Today, very few kiwis live on, visit, or know of the basic farming practices. They buy their meat, milk and eggs from a Farmers Market, or shelves in a supermarket, where everything is cleanly wrapped and pleasantly presented. Thus the reality of what goes on in the production of these products is unseen and unknown.
Over my life, attitudes to animal welfare have changed considerably and these changes are becoming more and more informed and hardened against much of what happens in the production and eating of animal origin food. There is a growing awareness of the reality of all living creatures having sentience, which is having the ability to be aware and having consciousness. There is also a growing appreciation of specism, which is the discrimination of one species over another, or even one sub species over another.
Attitudes towards health are also going through a sea of change. The prevalence of death from non-communicable diseases (NCD), the burgeoning of obesity and diabetes is making us all look at the causes of these distressing situations and science is now pointing the finger at meat and milk as the prime cause of so many of our modern illnesses.
Put together, the future of livestock farming is not looking too good, and we may have only 20 to 25 years to do something about it. The one thing we cannot do is turn the tide towards accepting the falsehoods of livestock farming and the damage wrought by such activities.
Let us look at some of the truths from a modern day moralist’s perspective.
Livestock farming is barbaric. Animals are given unnatural opportunities to breed up into enormous numbers (70 billion in the world today), they are incarcerated by fences and walls and fed purely to grow big enough to breed again, or to be ritually slaughtered. Meat eating causes sentient animals to be butchered, but under totally illogical specism, (who want to eat a dog or horse?) . Meat eaters are more likely to suffer from NCD, including cancers, heart attacks, obesity and diabetes.
Dairy farming is barbaric. Sentient cows are grown, artificially inseminated (to ensure that they have udders cumbersome enough to produce unnaturally large quantities of milk) and then have their calves taken away from them, so that their milk can be stripped from them to sell to the public. Milk products are all recognised as being a significant cause of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Meat is dirty. Food poisoning, a widespread and dangerous ailment, is caused by the handling or eating of contaminated meat and milk, not from vegetables. Ingestion of dangerous chemicals is ubiquitous with eating the meat of animals from the top of the food chain; comparatively vegetables carry very few dangerous chemicals, despite the urban myths to the contrary.
Livestock farming is environmentally destructive. If we were to believe, and many do, that the earth itself is a sentient being, the destruction of top soil, the spoilage of aquifers and the elimination of the natural flora and fauna in the production of livestock, can only be seen as rape and pillage of mother earth. Over 50% of the world’s man made climate changing gasses is now acknowledged to come from livestock farming.
Livestock farming is discriminatory. The blight of so many billions of people deprived of food and water due to the enormous demand on those resources made by livestock farming, is something we are all truly aware of.
Promotion of meat, milk and eggs is by clever and determined marketing, which hides the realities to persuade us that meat, milk and eggs are essential for healthy living. At the same time the science of food and health is recognising the enormous damage being done to all populations who are seduced into believing the propaganda.
The modern moralist is aware of the gap between reality and propaganda; even governments are starting to recognise the unbearable health costs, to land and people, associated with the production and sales of livestock products.
So the modern moralist will raise children whose attitude to livestock farming will harden to the point of rejecting animal products and will, as science has already proven, live healthier, longer lives on plant based diets.
Where will New Zealand sit in this new world?