– To Meat Or Not To Meat Essay, Research Paper

As children, one of the first things we learn is to recognize the

friendly barnyard

animals. We easily can spot the furry cow with the gentle eyes, the

feathery chickens

who run wildly about, and the pink pigs that roll in the mud. We may

also sing about that

nice farmer, Old McDonald, and all of his nice animals. The truth is

that Old McDonald

with a straw hat has been replaced by a business man in the hard hat.

Ninety-five percent of the meat we eat does not come from Old

McDonald’s farm.

Hens, chickens, turkeys, and over half of beef cattle, dairy cows, and

pigs come from an

"animal factory" (Sussman, 95) which is a mechanized environment. This

new farming

method finds blue skies, tall silos, and grassy hillsides good for

calendars but, bad for

business. Those pictures are not cost effective. Animals are not

treated with the loving

care of a farmer but, are treated like inmates on death row.

Poultry, pigs, and calves are forced to live in total confinement

never to see the

light of day until they head to the slaughter house. Hens are frequently

crowded into

small cages which they may not leave for a year or two. Pregnant sows

are often put in

stalls that are their homes for three months at a time. After having her

piglets, a sow may

be pinned to the floor for four to seven weeks in order to keep the sow

from rolling over

on her babies. Cows may be fed steady diet of molasses laced saw dust,


newspaper, plastic pellets, poultry manure, and processed slaughter house

wastes in order

to gain weight faster. Confinement is so complete that the animals do

not have room to

move (206).

Not only are the animals forced to live in this unnatural

environment, they are

also pumped full off antibiotics, hormones, steroids, and are dipped in

pesticides. Over

half the cattle and nearly all pigs, calves, and poultry are fed a steady

diet of antibiotics

and related

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medications to help control diseases. No one is sure what the long term

side effects may

be for people who consume these meat and dairy products (145).

Have you ever seen a big rig driving down a highway hauling

cattle? A trucker

hauling livestock can legally drive two to three days nonstop leaving the


without food or water. Truckers who do stop to rest or water their cargo

do so because

they choose to, not because the law requires it . It is not surprising

that much livestock is

driven through days of suffocating heat and below zero nights uncared

for, crowded, and

sometimes literally frightened to death. Some of the animals arriving

alive at the

slaughter house have broken limbs or other injuries due to crowding and

piling. At the

journey’s end the cattle are already confused and frightened at their

treatment and strange

surroundings. Now they must be sent through such procedures such as


dehorning, branding, and injections and various chemicals (Null, 86-87).

The four slaughtering methods the government has declared humane

are captive

bolt, carbon dioxide, electrical stunning, and gunshot. The methods were

devised from

the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958. The Act says that all livestock must

be unconscience

before slaughtering. Unfortunately, the act has not provisions for

punishment of those

who choose to use an inhumane slaughtering technique (Sussman, 223).

Captive bolt gun, which is usually used on cattle, uses

compressed air or blank

cartridges. The device fires a thick bolt into the animals’ forehead.

Some bolts are

designed to stun the animal by concussion rather than penetration of the


Carbon dioxide is used on swine and sometimes sheep and calves.

The animals

ride on a conveyor belt into a pit filled with 65-75% concentration on

carbon dioxide.

The gas causes the animals to become unconscience.

The electric stunner is handled by a packing house worker on any

kind of animal.

The stunners are shoved against the animal, shocking it into

insensibility. If not handled

correctly, the electical stunner can cause temporary paralyzation.

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The gunshot method is preferred among small operations and most

farmers. A

.22 or .38 caliber bullet is shot into the animals brain. Unfortunately,

if the animal

moves it’s head at the wrong time, the bullet can miss the desired spot

causing the animal

to bleed in agony until another bullet is fired (224-226).

Chickens continue to be treated like dumb birds. In large

poultry packing houses,

birds are attached by their feet to a moving belt or chain. Conscience

birds are moved

along upside down to a motorized revolving blade that slices their neck

just short of

decapitation. Some operations force a knife blade into the birds mouth,

piercing the base

of the skull, and causing a fatal hemorrhage (Null, 136).

Foodborne illnesses are the most common non-fatal diseases in the

United States

according to the U.S. Public Health Service. Food poisoning, with

symptoms like those

of the 24 hour flu, often goes unreported or undetected. Although not

that harmful to a

healthy adult, a mild case of food poisoning can be fatal for an elderly

person, a baby, or

someone who is already ill (245).

Bacteria are easily transferred from raw meat to other foods.

Unwashed utensils,

cutting surfaces, sloppy meat markets, and restaurants may spread

salmonella and other

food poisonings. People who eat raw meat may also ingest beef tape


When barbecuing, the drops of fat dripping off of the juicy steak

onto the burning

charcoal and become superheated causing the fat’s chemical properties to

change to the

form of a carcinogen. A grilled steak coated with greasy smoke can

contain as much

carcinogens as thirty packs of cigarettes (232).

Dr. Michael Jacobson, the co-director of the Center for Science

in the Public

Interest, calls bacon "the most dangerous food in the supermarket."

Bacon, sausage, and

lunch meat contain sodium nitrate which, when hitting the human gut, form


the deadliest family of carcinogens (234).

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If a group of health educators, home economists, and average

individuals were

asked the question, "What is the most important nutrient to a person’s

diet?" most of the

responses would be "protein." Most people associate protein with meat

cheese, milk, and

eggs. Due to a person’s need for protein, the USDA says that the average


annually consumes 93 pounds of beef, 57 pounds of pork, 45 pounds of

chicken, nine

pounds of turkey, and 12 pounds of seafood. Dr. Mervyn Hardinge, a

medical physician

with degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities, says that the

animals you are eating

did not get their protein from eating other animals. If we think about

it logically, the

animals received their protein from the green or leave portions of the

plant. Therefore,

we should also get our protein by eating vegetables. The essential amino

acids that make

protein complete can only be received through plants (Sussman, 12).

Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Desk Dictionary defines "healthy" as

having good

health and having characteristics of a sound condition (296). Some

people consider

"healthy" to mean eating right and being at a "correct" weight. With

planning to meet the

requirements for calcium, iron, and B12, a vegetarian diet can be

perfectly healthy and

will reduce obesity and cholesterol. The use of whole grains,

vegetables, and fruit will

cover the recommended daily allowance for the nutrients found in meat

without the

heavy cholesterol count. Vegetarians take in fewer calories and fat and

more complex

carbohydrates and fiber (Interview,Kevin Vance). Although calcium and

riboflavin tend

to be lower, the vegetarian diet is closer to the diet recommended by the

U.S. Department

of Agriculture than the average American diet which consists of Big Macs,


nuggets, and Oscar Meyer wieners.

Vegetarian diets depend heavily on four groups of plant foods;

grains and cereals,

legumes (including beans and peas), fruits and vegetables, and nuts and

seeds. Including

something from each of these four "vegetarian" food groups at every meal


maximum nutrition (Interview,Kevin Vance).

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Besides the nutritional benefits of the vegetarian diet,

the human body is

not suited for meat. For example, our teeth structures are those of

herbivorous, or plant

eating, animals. Although our bodies are designed to rely on vegetarian

foods, modern

man has changed his dietary habits to those of the carnivore, or meat

eater. We may

think of ourselves as carnivores but, our flat teeth are not designed to

tear through hide,

flesh, and bones. Tenderizer is put on meat so that it will be more

easily chewed.

Furthermore, the digestive system of the carnivore is designed to get rid

of the meat it

eats before it decays. The human digestive system is designed to break

down complex

carbohydrates and fibers like those of the herbivore (Sussman, 300).

Taking a look past the cruel treatment of animals and the

nutritional value of the

vegetarian diet, maybe God did not intend for us to eat meat at all. In

Genesis 1:29-30

God said:

I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of

the whole earth and every

tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be

your for food. And to all the

beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and

all the creatures that move

on the ground – everything that has the breath of life

in it – I give every plant

for food. And it was so.


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