Prior to the publication of Meatonomics, the publisher deemed the three paragraphs below “overly sentimental” and insisted on deleting them. Reprinted with appropriate sentimentality.
The most heartbreaking feature of today’s hellish, industrial meat production systems is that none of the billions of animals who spend their entire lives as prisoners will ever experience the slightest affection from, or fellowship with, another living being. They’ll be stripped from their mothers just when the maternal relationship is most craved by mother and child. Some will never know a mother’s touch or call, nor taste a mother’s milk. The one truly valuable asset they possess, a sense of personal dignity, will be stolen from them and tossed away without a care. They’ll be jammed into such close spaces with others of their own species that rather than develop healthy social networks, they’ll live in a state of constant hostility and fear. They’ll be forced to compete daily with their comrades for food, space and other scarce resources. Some will be pecked or bitten to death by their fellows. They’ll all lead lives of misery in painful parallel, in a kind of solidarity of time, place and debilitating stress.
As to their unhealthy relationships with the humans who cross their paths, these will be the schizophrenic nightmares of a Jekyll and Hyde story. Sometimes they’ll receive food or water from their captors, sometimes a kick or a punch, and sometimes an excruciating mutilation like a castration, beak amputation, tail docking or broken wing or limb. They’ll never receive the slightest caress or caring touch from their minders, never the slightest show of kindness or concern. Stuck in pathetic dependence on those they fear, they can only come to see humans as unpredictable and untrustworthy. Imagine a psychopathic kidnapper offering you a sandwich one minute, and beating you the next.
There’s no humanity whatsoever in these factory systems – that is to say, there’s no evidence of any human attribute other than the shallowest desire to make a profit. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect hell for the animals we debase and insult in this manner. It’s an embarrassment to humankind that in our treatment of our fellow planetary voyagers, we’ve forsaken the best qualities of our species – compassion, mercy, and kindness, for the basest – greed, cruelty and violence. Unfortunately, that’s simply the bleak nature of the factory farming systems that produce almost all the meat, eggs and dairy consumed in the industrialized world.