This is a guest blog post, written by Carrie Snider. This is a very important issue and I, for one, am voting YES on Proposition 2 this November. I ask you to do the same. Feel free to ask Carrie any questions that may come to mind.
After reading, please watch the videos below.
In my line of work, I see shocked faces all day long. As a professional farm animal protection advocate for the nonprofit Farm Sanctuary, working on the Yes on Prop 2 campaign, one of my primary responsibilities is to let others know the truth behind the meat, dairy and eggs they trust the agriculture industry to produce in safe, humane ways. When they hear the truth, shock, disbelief and regret are visible on their faces. Countless numbers of folks are learning for the very first time that the products they consume daily most likely come from facilities where farm animals are hardly considered sentient creatures. They are viewed and treated like cogs in a machine. So what are we, who commit ourselves to leading moral lives, to do with this bewildering information? On this blog alone, an average of 1,900 readers tune in daily to take in the thoughts of a man so committed to moral life that he turned down a lucrative and growing career to pursue a life of modesty. We are inspired by Donny’s commitment to doing the right thing, and we are inspired by the calls of the moral leaders around our world. What will we do for the animals? In this case, the answer is simple and free of cost:
Vote Yes on Prop 2 this November or, for those living outside California, ask the Californians you know to support this modest animal protection measure and consider donating to help spread the word.
Prop 2’s requests are simple:
-Allow egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and veal calves enough room to turn around
-Allow these animals the space to extend their limbs.
-Ban any confinement methods which categorically restrict these freedoms.
It is difficult to imagine a more modest proposition. In fact, you might be surprised to hear that these requirements are not already in place. But unfortunately, the situation is dire and in need of emergency repair. Twenty millionfarm animals are confined to cages for the vast majority of their lives in California alone. If that number is too large to grasp, consider that Los Angeles County (the largest county in the United States) has less than 11 million residents. With the staggering rate at which Americans are eating meat, we have created a situation in which farm animals vastly outnumber us, the consumers. And the effects are clear. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), or Factory Farms, have become the rule in industrialized farming. In order to cram as many animals as possible into the smallest possible space, these animals are restricted to cages so small, they are unable to turn around, lie down comfortably and even extend their limbs fully.
Chickens—who make up the vast majority of the animals slaughtered in the US annually—are stuffed into battery cages, which are so small, that they are unable to even extend their wings. At Farm Sanctuary, we run two animal shelters for abused, neglected and abandoned farm animals. Indeed, I’ve seen the chickens from factory farms reach our shelter. They are bruised from head to foot; their feathers are gone, their crowns have fallen with their spirits, and sometimes—be still, my beating heart—they learn to walk as they timidly leave their cage for the first time. A bird never forgets she is a bird.
And chickens are not the only animals confined in this cruel and devastating way. Many Americans are now aware of the unconscionable conditions in which veal calves are raised. Prized for their white flesh, veal calves are denied the basic exercise and nutrition that would make their muscles strong, healthy… and pink. Without any thought to the mental and physical abuse caused by confinement, factory farm operators condemn these calves(less than 20 weeks old at the time of slaughter) to crates so restrictive, they cannot turn fully around. Their necks are routinely tethered to their crates, and they are allowed no social interaction.
In 2006, Arizona became the first US state to ban veal crates, and Colorado followed suit this year. If Prop2 passes this November, California—the largest agricultural state in the nation—will be the third to say no to this inhumane practice.
Finally, Prop2, if passed, would ban gestation crates—crates barely big enough to house a fully-grown pregnant pig for most of her life. Like the egg-laying hens and veal calves, breeding sows are not allowed the basic comforts of a clean and soft place to rest, a space big enough to turn around in, or a way to naturally interact with others. She is a unit of production and as such, is given no consideration as a living animal. Because breeding sows are kept in a virtually constant state of pregnancy, they will spend most of their lives in these tiny cages, waiting for slaughter.
The industrialized world brings with it endless opportunities. Technology now allows us to soothe our pains when we are sick, travel to places once too far to reach in a lifetime, and enjoy the music and books and blogs of people we have never met. But with these opportunities come even greater responsibility. For each dollar we spend, with each proposition we endorse, we vote for the world we would like to live in. It is time to ask ourselves: As moral people, as stewards of this delicate and unfathomably wonderful world, will we do the right thing for the animals who are left in our care? Will we learn about the issues affecting the most meek among us and pledge to take action on their behalf? Will we use our power, our democracy, and our voices for good? California, a state known for leading the nation in social justice issues, is now being watched with an unblinking eye. As moral citizens, we owe it to those around us to take a stand, to vote to end industrialized cruelty when we can.
Maya Angelou, the famed poet, Civil Rights activist, devout Christian, and committed animal protection advocate, once devoted the title of her most famous novel to the words of Paul Laurence Dunbar, who lamented the plight of the caged bird:
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core
But a plea, that upward to Heaven, he flings–
I know why the caged bird sings.
Now is the time to answer the call of the caged bird, the caged sow, the caged calf and to allow these farm animals the most fundamental comfort. This November, we can all make a difference for 20 million animals. Please, vote YES on Prop 2. Tell your friends, coworkers and families about the measure, and educate yourself on farm animal issues. We are their guardians, their jail keepers, their saints. We choose between these options every time we purchase and every time we vote. May we choose well.
Carrie Snider is Farm Sanctuary’s Campaign Coordinator for Yes on Prop 2, as well as an Education Coordinator. Her favorite pig, Lily, jumped off a slaughter truck and saved her own life. Carrie lives in Los Angeles with her two amazing rescued dogs. For more information on Prop 2, visit www.yesonprop2.com.