On our way back from Los Angeles, driving on the interstate I-5, arguably the dullest interstate I have ever seen, we always have to change the car’s air circulation mode to stop the outside air from coming in whenever we pass this humungous herd of beef cattle which is located right next to the freeway near Kettleman City, known as the Harris Ranch.
I guess everyone who has driven on I-5 simply cannot miss this “pleasant scene”. And every time I have passed these pitiful cows, it simply fills me with utter grief and sorrow. There are typically a hundred thousand cattle at this lot, clogged right next to each other, with their knees and below covered in their own feces, in a tiny patch of land, standing there, be it rain or shine, with hardly any shelter to protect them. This “farming” for beef makes me ponder why is it that people are ready to eat regardless of the suffering?
The Harris Ranch site is a proof of cruelty to animals and also highlights that meat eating in this modern world is such a pedestrian delight. Years ago, back in India, eating non-vegeterian dishes was considered a supreme delicacy and, to be honest, a very expensive affair. I still remember so vividly how happy I was when chicken curry would be cooked in our house – the whole experience was such a gala affair. My brother and I would not be able to contain our excitement as we too were equally involved in the process of its making. My mother does not eat nor even touch chicken but was generous enough to make it, and she left no stones unturned making it with the utmost perfection! This “glorious” event used to happen probably twice a year – much to my brother’s and my dismay. The reason being the expense of the meat.
On the contrary, here in the U.S., chicken and cauliflower are sold at the same price per pound. How could the life of a living animal, a life aware of all the five senses in its body, a life that goes through birth, youth, happiness, pain and all the emotions, cost the same as a vegetable? This is only possible when animals are raised and dumped as a bag of potatoes, and finally when the animals are delectably “ripe” they are mercilessly butchered (many are electrically stunned before being killed so that they don’t realize their oncoming fate). This assembly-line kind of animal farming has consequently brought down the cost of meat so drastically that eating a living being has become mundane. This is definitely not an answer to feed a population!
The animal in such farms lives its entire lifetime in extreme chaos, it is deprived of all the basic decencies of life, and simply waits mindlessly for its turn, one final day. We simply cannot exploit their innocence and naivety, though it gives me some solace knowing that these animals are not intelligent enough to ever realize it.
This cruel and inhumane way of animal farming has to be stopped. Farming sites have to provide animals their basic rights – freedom of movement, hygiene and should be naturally fed. They cannot be medically or electrically stunned or given harmful steroids to artificially and rapidly gain weight that birds can’t even fly. Meat prices would sky rocket and eating a beef burger will rightfully be a delicacy the same way eating Beluga Caviar is, hunt it or farm it, but the produce is rare.
I am not a proponent of be-a-vegetarian, but going to Safeway and spending more money on capsicum and less on a pound of chicken does leave me baffled and eventually saddened.