“Our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is contrary to human dignity. We can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if we disregard any aspect of reality.” – Pope Francis, Laudato Si’
noun 1. a system of rearing livestock using intensive methods, by which poultry, pigs, or cattle are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost.
Factory farming grows out of our overwhelming demand for meat consumption and is based on a completely utilitarian view of living creatures, reducing them to objects and commodities of mass production. Anyone with a conscience knows animals are not machines, that they suffer, and have a will to live. They are not inanimate objects. When we reduce other living beings to objects with no value beyond our own pleasure and profit, we reduce something vital within ourselves and become less human.
Animals are not human beings, but they are not objects; they are living beings with their own inherent value and place in the scheme of life beyond the uses we assign them. They are not commodities. We project that meaning onto them. If we must use them as food, despite the fact that it is not a biological necessity, let us do so with restraint and compassion. Let us not make their brief lives a living hell of suffering merely for our own fleeting pleasure and gain. Let us not confine them to harsh and crowded environments where they get sick and suffer.
The strictly utilitarian view of nature, animals, and people that has risen in our time has had terrible consequences. If we respect life, it must include all life within its proper context. If we believe this world is a gift, we must care for it well. If we believe in a divine source of reality, we must not reduce any part of that reality to a meaningless object with no inherent value of its own. We must not justify inflicting needless suffering on helpless creatures who are at our mercy, by trying to elevate ourselves to the false position as the only sentient beings created by God.
What you can do:
1. Reduce your meat consumption.
2. Buy only free-range/grass-fed/cage-free animal products.
3. Or, stop eating meat altogether and donate the money you save to The Humane Society of the United States. http://www.humanesociety.org/
4. Educate yourself:
http://www.pcrm.org/ (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)