Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA, Published September 07 2012
Letter: Wasting food obsceneWhen hundreds of millions of people go hungry every day, wasting food is obscene. No one needs to remind us of this. Or perhaps someone does. According to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans toss out nearly every other bite of food. We squander up to 40 percent of the nation’s food supply each year – throwing away, on average, 20 pounds per person per month – while making excuses for our wastefulness. The lettuce had started to wilt. We forgot about the yogurt in the back of the fridge. We simply bought more than we needed. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.
This is shameful enough. Now consider the nightmare that billions of animals – who feel anxiety, fear and pain every bit as profoundly as we do – endure on factory farms, in transit to slaughter and at the slaughterhouse itself. Nowadays, they are confined to cages and crates, their babies are taken away from them, and they are kicked and prodded and deprived of everything that makes their lives worth living just so that we can take their milk or kill them for their flesh. And then we toss half of it all into the trash. This may be one of the most compelling reasons yet to go vegan.
PETA has conducted numerous undercover investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses, and we’ve invariably found stomach-churning cruelty. A PETA investigator working at a New York dairy farm that supplies the maker of Cabot and McCadam cheeses saw cows being jabbed and struck, even in the udder, with poles and canes. Calves bellowed and thrashed in unrelieved pain as workers removed their horn buds – without providing any pain relief. Most cows on dairy farms are not naturally hornless. Farmers use searing-hot irons, caustic chemicals, knives, shears, sharp wires and even handsaws to cut and dig the horns out of calves’ skulls.
And after all this, we pour milk down the drain. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste 30 percent of our milk supply – or a third of a glass of milk per person per day. The public radio program Marketplace recently did the math: That’s the milk from 800,000 cows, whose beloved calves are torn away from them for veal year after year, tossed away without a thought.
PETA investigators have also witnessed workers at a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse beat, throw and decapitate animals. They’ve witnessed abuse inside a Butterball turkey slaughterhouse, where birds were punched and kicked. They’ve seen farm workers beat pigs, spray paint into their nostrils, electro-shock pregnant sows and slam piglets to the ground. And on and on.
Whenever PETA or anyone else releases the findings from an investigation, meat industry spokespeople are quick to claim that it’s an “isolated incident.” Yet we keep finding the same abuses every time we look.
There is no good excuse for what animals endure on factory farms, during transport or on the slaughterhouse floor. But when need becomes greed and we mindlessly buy meat, milk and other animal products because they’re cheap, only to toss them into the trash when we decide that we didn’t really want them after all, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Habits can be hard to change, but in this case we may not have much choice in the matter. Another newly released report predicts that the spiraling human population and food shortages will force most of us to go vegetarian by 2050 – but why wait?
Newkirk is the president and founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.