The Cost Of Eating Inhumanely

mo meat

I can’t tell you the number of friends and family members I have that are vegetarians.  People sometimes assume because I’m Buddhist, I am, too.  But, although I rarely eat steak and frequently enjoy a vegetarian dish, I do eat meat.  Yes, I eat meat at the same time I champion humane treatment of animals–how is this possible?

There was a time when I considered becoming vegetarian.  But, in the end, I knew myself too well.  I love pepperoni and will probably be eating pizza on my deathbed!  I might not be a steak person, but I do love a great hamburger.  And my husband can cook a chicken like nobody’s business.  So…I do eat meat, I have always eaten meat and I will always eat meat.  That’s a given.

But what was I to do about this niggling feeling that I ought to be able to enjoy my food and also be respectful to the animals that died for it?

grass fed cattle

Six Ways You Can Change and Reduce Meat Consumption

Some of you may already have read my review of Dr. Temple Grandin’s book Animals Make Us Human.  In this book, she puts forward an important concept: that if we are going to eat animals as part of our diet, there is no reason the ones we raise for that purpose must be frightened at the end of their lives.  In fact, she designed certain devices used by the meat processing industry today that ensure the animals are calm right up to the end, which is very quick.  And really–that’s all we want too, isn’t it?  Because of Dr. Grandin’s research, meat processing is light years ahead of where it was only a few years ago.  However, according to the World Animal Protection Organization, the treatment of farm animals is the world’s biggest animal welfare issue – and it’s getting bigger. By 2050, livestock production will be twice what it was in 2000. Right now, more than 70 billion animals are farmed for food each year – two-thirds in conditions that mean they can’t move freely or live naturally.  More and more, moral consumers are saying, no more factory farms!

Still, how can you–just you reading this–help to make things even better for the animals that eventually become our food?  Well, there are lots of ways.

1) Reduce meat consumption by trying Meatless Mondays.  Here’s a great video about that.

2.  Buy pastured livestock meats from acceptable sources, where the animals are treated humanely all their lives–such as local farms or farmer’s markets.  Even if you do this only some of the time, you’re ahead of the game.

3.  When shopping for meat other than at these sources, make sure the labels indicate third party certified for animal welfare.  And ask your store to provide humanely raised meats.

4.  Even today, the poultry industry is among the worst violators of treating animals humanely before and during slaughter.  So don’t forget about the eggs you buy.  They should be labeled ‘cage free’ or ‘free range’, indicating the hens were not living in tiny battery cages (about the size of a single piece of paper) all their lives.

5.  If you must eat fast and processed foods, give your business to the chains that are doing the best job of buying pastured livestock from humane producers: Chipotle, Whole Foods, Wolfgang Puck Restaurants, Sara Lee, Krispy Kreme, Hellmann’s, Safeway, Wendy’s, Sonic, Cracker Barrel, Burger King and McDonald’s.  You’ll also want to avoid these brands:  Tyson, Smithfield, Butterball, Pilgrim’s Pride, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Domino’s Pizza.

6.  Take action.  Learn everything you can about eating humanely, and why there should be no more factory farms.  When travelling, avoid local cuisine such as the burgers in the Cayman Islands, which are often made with green sea turtle meat (an endangered species.)

fresh fish stamp


Sadly, Germany and Norway lead the way in the reduction of inhumane methods to slaughter fish.  The largest majority of fish you buy in the US will have died a painful and protracted death.  So please consider reducing the amount of fish you eat, at the very least.

factory farm

Why No More Factory Farms?

Factory farming has been labeled as the biggest cause of animal cruelty in the world. The frenzied pace of breeding, raising and killing required to mass produce meat means that animals suffer the following:

·        Intense confinement and overcrowding.  Over 100,000 animals are forced within a single structure, resulting in trampling, suffocation, cannibalism and starvation.

·        Severe Stress.  Animals are restricted from natural behaviors like grazing, rooting, scratching, foraging, mud wallowing, running and nesting.

·        Routine mutilation without pain relief.

·        Extreme exposure to heat or freezing cold while in transport.

·        Fear and Distress.  They’re subjected to busy, industrialized slaughterhouses designed to be able to kill 200 animals per minute.

·        Frequent improper stunning and slaughter methods.  Factory farm animals routinely have their throats cut, are boiled and dismembered alive – and while fully conscious – by workers under extreme pressure to produce a high output. Sadly, with cost and convenience as main drivers of consumer decisions, most of us are supporting this type of farming.

factory farm not fresh

Factory farmed meat instead of using that from pastured livestock is also a danger to human health.  Factory farms selectively breed animals and inject them with growth hormones to grow as big and as quickly as possible.  Because animals live together is such close quarters, factory farms pump animals full of antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease. But overuse of antibiotics has caused microbes to become resistant, and future infections cannot be treated.  Despite the widespread use of antibiotics, factory farmed animals are still susceptible to contract many diseases such as salmonella, mad cow disease and tuberculosis, which can be passed on to humans through eating their products.

anti biotics on factory farms

When you consider the amount of growth hormones & drugs we are using and consuming through factory farmed meat, it is no wonder diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer are increasing. Rates of new infectious diseases are rising like never before. Most scientists agree that factory farming plays a leading role in these increasing threats to human health.

dollar sign

But Why Is Meat From Pastured Livestock So Expensive?

The feed and processing for pastured livestock is more costly.  Herbicides and pesticides are often not used, so more labor is needed to take care of the fields where these grains grow.  Properly certified processing plants and farms are regularly inspected and humane handling training for the workers is expensive.  When pastured animals feed, they don’t put on weight as quickly as those being pumped full of hormones and restricted from moving around.  So it’s more costly to bring them to market.

I hear many people say, “How can I afford to eat humanely?”  But the question really is, “How can you afford not to?”

 helpful links

America For Animals.Org


Farmer’s Market Online Directory

Certified Humane


Joy Jones

Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Las Cruces, New Mexico. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.



What Is A Teacup Pig?

teacup pig

What Is a Teacup Pig?

So, I saw the reference to Teacup Pig online the other day, and thought—what the?  Is it obvious I don’t keep up with Paris Hilton’s choice of pets? Today’s miniature pigs, also known as micro pigs, pocket pigs, and teacup pigs are a trend started in the 1960’s.  At that time, pigs of 150–200 pounds were sent to zoos and were used for medical research on toxicology, pharmacology, aging, etc.  These small pigs were easier to work with than the larger farm pigs.

Today, many animal protection organizations and pig breeders say there is no such thing as a miniature pig, however there are breeders selling piglets called miniature pigs in North America and in the United Kingdom.

Buyer beware:

Since there is no established breed of “teacup pig”, you have no way of knowing whether the piglet you receive will stay small!  If you do meet with a breeder, ask to see the pig’s parents and grandparents to gauge their size.  Know too, though, that pigs can breed before they have reached their full size, so this is still no guarantee.  Bad breeders have also been known to recommend a diet that starves the animal to keep it from growing.  Also, unless you’re drinking your tea out of a 55 gallon drum, it’s good to remember even the smallest don’t stay teacup sized forever.  The term really just alludes to the fact that they never get as large as the breeds that weigh up to 1000 lbs.

There are many organizations set up to find new homes for pet pigs which have grown too large or unruly.  In 2009, pig sanctuaries took in more than 300,000 surrendered pigs, and they are often put down.

Things To Know If Your Heart is Set On A Teacup Pig:

They’re not legal everywhere.  So you need to do the research about where you live.  Their lifespan is 15-20 years, which is more than most dogs and cats.  They cost around $1,000 from a breeder—a rare rescue animal, this!  And getting them fixed requires a specialist.  Yes, you do have to get them fixed.  Males become aggressive upon sexual maturity, smell bad and can become destructive.  They can be litterbox trained, but will never be as neat an animal as a cat—they’re just not.  They also like to play in water and roll in mud—so if you’re not Paris Hilton and don’t have someone to clean off your pig—get ready with the towels.

On the bright side, pigs are super smart pets, though, and can be trained to do most things a dog can.  They also need regular walks, just like a dog.  And how cute is this?  They lurve their blankies!

Would you like more info on rescuing a teacup pig?  Here’s a list of rescues.

  Joy Jones is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Anderson, Ohio.  When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column called The Midwestern Buddhist as well as urban fantasy and humor.  You can e-mail her at as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

BOOK REVIEW: Animals Make Us Human, by Temple Grandin

20100121TempleGrandinFrom Wikipedia:

Temple Grandin is an American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, autistic activist, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. She also created the “hug box”, a device to calm autistic children. The subject of an award-winning biographical film, Temple Grandin, in 2010 she was listed in the Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the “Heroes” category.

I downloaded this book one day because I was looking for anything about understanding the behavior of my three dogs better.  I’d never heard of Dr. Temple Grandin.  To my surprise, the book was not just about dogs and cats, but also horses, cattle, pigs, chickens and zoo animals.

I’ve now listened to the book twice and every time I do I come to admire this woman more.  She writes in a common sense style that’s easy to follow.  And the book is full of interesting facts.  For instance, do you know why cats get stuck in trees?

Grandin writes a lot about the science behind proving that animals have feelings, just like we do.  She talks about the Fear, Rage, Seeking and Play systems of animals’ brains–what stimulates and upsets them as well as what seems to make them truly happy.

After reading this book, I wanted more than ever to buy only humanely produced meats, as well.  Dr. Grandin was instrumental in the audits at meat processing plants conducted several years ago by McDonald’s, Wendy’s and others.  She designed systems to keep animals calm instead of fearful when awaiting slaughter.

In short, I highly recommend this book, both for pet owners and animal lovers in general.  And especially if you have an autistic child, it is inspiring to see what someone with autism is capable of in her life’s work.

Here’s a video of her speaking:

You can get a copy of Dr. Grandin’s book at this link:


joy 300Joy Jones is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Anderson, Ohio.  When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphyscial column called The Midwestern Buddhist as well as urban fantasy and humor.  You can e-mail her at as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.