Here's a thought to chew on: America's most intractable problems all double back to our collective mistreatment of animals. Sounds crazy, right? Well, humor me for a minute.
Our own lives would improve if we started showing some basic decency to the 9 billion cows, calves, pigs, lambs, turkeys and chickens that are slaughtered a year in the United States. More than 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, many unable to even turn around in small cages.
A slew of investigations by Mercy for Animals, PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have uncovered repeated instances of vicious abuse of animals headed for slaughter.
The latest Humane Society undercover investigation of a large veal calf slaughterhouse in New Jersey showed abuse too gruesome to display on television and resulted in the temporary shutdown of the facility by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"Animal abuse is the norm in the meat industry," says Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society. "Many standard practices in animal agribusiness are so cruel that they're just out of step with mainstream American values about how animals ought to be treated." The society cites piglet tail docking and castration without anesthesia, the confinement of pigs to crates where they cannot turn around and cutting off the beaks of egg-laying hens before they're confined to tiny cages.