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We Shouldn't Feed Animals Food That's Not Meant for Them

Okay so this heading seems pretty self-explanatory - right? It seems like common sense. It seems so basic that we must be doing it- right? Wrong. Many of North America’s biggest animal factory farming operations do not feed animals the food that they are meant to eat. They feed them cheaper alternatives that fatten them up faster. Essentially, most of the animals that we eat - most of the meat that we get from the grocery store - have had short and horrible lives. They are fattened up sometimes to the point that they can barely move and, even if they could, much of the time they are in cages or pens that don’t allow for freedom of movement. Not a pleasant life.

When you think back to elementary school, do you remember the first time that you learned about the food chain? We are what we eat and, by proxy, we are what they eat too. If we eat beef, we are also ingesting what the cow ate. If we feed our cows crappy pesticide ridden corn (instead of grass), we are eating that crappy pesticide ridden corn. When we pump chemicals into our ecosystems, those chemicals affect us too.

Eating animals that have had only one bad day instead of a terrible life is better in every way except cost. Yes, it’s more expensive to let cows roam and grow and develop at their natural rate. It also leads to tastier and healthier beef. If we are what we eat, then isn’t it better to eat a healthy cow than an unhealthy one? We are eating their muscles - don’t we want those muscles to be strong, lean and for the fat that is there to be good and healthy fat? It’s also a heck of a lot nicer for the cows - and hey, that’s gotta count for something too.

I am about the farthest thing from a vegetarian or vegan (I’ve tried more species than I can count - and I’m not done yet) but I am willing to eat less meat (and embrace the off-cuts and organs) if it means that the animal only had one bad day. I am willing to hunt and butcher what I kill - I know I am a minority here for many reasons and this may seem rather extreme but when I first learned about how we treat the animals that we eat, I promised myself that if I could not follow through with hunting, then I would become a vegetarian. I embrace the indigenous philosophy of no waste - to use everything and honour the life that you took. So, I choose to pay more for my meat - ensuring it has been raised ethically, will hunt what I can (still learning) and I embrace using parts of the animal that most people turn away from (cow tongue tacos anyone? They’re incredible when prepared well).

The every-man/woman may not have the ability to change the factory farming industry en-masse, but we can choose what we buy and what we do not buy. Choosing to go to the butcher for one meal a week instead of the grocery store can make a difference over time. It’s a small step in the right direction. Going camping and fishing for your supper for one night instead of eating the hotdogs you packed makes a difference. Not all change has to be big or complicated. It can be simple, gradual and experimental. Who knows - you might even find that your body notices and appreciates the difference.

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