Consume at your own discretion

By BenitaZepeda

I guess I won’t be eating meat anymore. Thank you, Ira Glass. What sucks is I actually like meat—chicken and steak always complete a meal. But what I don’t like is how I know I would become incredibly attached to whatever I consumed before it had been killed.

After watching an episode of “This American Life,” about what the farming industry is like now, I don’t want to eat a little piglet again.

When I was a student at Loyola University, I took an environmental ethics course—I didn’t fully understand what I was getting myself into. We watched horrifying clips about modern farming and read books about how various animals are treated just so they can be slaughtered to eat.

At that point, I went through a phase where I didn’t want anything to do with eating meat. When I got the urge to eat meat, I would search for organically raised animals, you know, because I felt that was a lot better.

Sadly, my bank account approached an all-time low and seeking out more humane ways of consuming meat became too expensive. The effect wore off a couple months after I finished the course and I was back to my old ways.

That is, until I watched an episode from Glass’ show about genetically modified pigs.

The story highlighted farming industry norms, specifically for pigs. These animals get injected with hormones to make them almost twice their normal size. They spend their entire lives in a single pen with several other pigs—the longest walk they will take is the one right before they are killed. For the pigs, that walk is so stressful it sometimes causes their muscles to tighten up and can lead to premature death.

There are catalogs featuring different “well-endowed” male pigs, where modern farmers can purchase semen to implant into their sows. For intelligent animals, they no longer have the right to live a humane life—as Glass mentions, they can’t even have sex on their own.

Despite regulations, farmers still find ways to cut corners. A PETA investigation found that workers at an Oklahoma farm were killing pigs by slamming the animals’ heads against the floor and beating them with a hammer, according to PETA’s website.

Also, with all the chemically induced preparation these animals endure, they no longer have immune systems to protect themselves against common germs. According to the TAL episode, people need to shower, wear sterilized clothing and prep as if they were about to perform surgery just to be near a pig. It makes me sad and a bit nauseous to see images of the animals like this.

So once again, I am back to avoiding meat, but this time it feels a bit different. I wish more farmers took the incentive to have a humane farm again, not a meat factory. And again, thank you, Mr. Glass, for reminding me of the cruel process that is our meat industry.