Earlier this month, I attended an agricultural conference to discuss farm animal welfare issues. The event’s organizers provided me with an excellent vegan meal and as I conversed with people (decidedly not vegan) during lunch, I was asked my opinion about what type of pig farming I thought was “humane.” I responded: “the kind where the pigs aren’t killed.” As you can imagine, my answer raised a few eyebrows.
At another industry conference several years ago, participants repeatedly asserted that industrialized animal farming is the best way to feed the Earth’s growing human population. I argued that it was more efficient to eat plants directly instead of feeding them to animals, and then killing and eating the animals. But conference attendees held to the notion that producing meat, milk and eggs was the best way to feed the starving masses, despite evidence to the contrary. Finally, I asked where they got their information. They told me it was in a book entitled “Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastics.” Seriously!
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak directly with and question the assumptions of individuals immersed in animal agriculture. They actually seem to believe that the most efficient way to feed the human population is through factory farming. But a growing bed of empirical and scientific evidence shows that plant farming is more efficient and sustainable, as well as healthier and less cruel than animal farming. As citizens learn more about our food, and discover how our increasingly scarce tax dollars are being spent to prop up a failed system, I believe change is inevitable.
Our current animal-based factory food system doesn’t work. It is wasteful and inefficient, and it depends heavily on tax subsidies to stay afloat. Factory farmers have benefited from billions of dollars in government support, and that’s still not enough. Pork industry officials recently went to Congress to request more hand outs, saying their industry was “suffering its worst economic crisis ever.” When will we stop propping up this failed model? As awareness increases, I believe it’s only a matter of time.