Thankfully, I have found new inspiration! For 30 years, I have been a vegetarian having disavowed any flesh of any kind ever since I took my introduction to Ecology class as a college freshman and learned about the massive destruction on the environment meat production causes. I’ve never wavered from my position and as the years passed I became more resolute after learning more and more about the progression of the meat industry to continue feeding an ever-growing human population and meet the demand for cheap food. The problems that we had over 30 years ago have now evolved and become so unsettling (most notably, the increased torture of all the living creatures involved whether they be human, fish, fowl or other farm animal),that I can no longer be content with just being a vegetarian. I can no longer abide by the abuses suffered by dairy cows and chickens to bring dairy and eggs to market. It is horrifying and nightmarish and as a compassionate human being, I must desist in supporting this barbaric industry.
I have become frustrated and disappointed with my efforts to get the word out about the abuses of the farming industry, as most people I’ve come across would rather not know how their food gets to their plate than face the grim reality of the cruelty and environmental havoc it takes. After all, ignorance IS bliss, apparently.
Over the years, I have been concerned about being labeled a nutcase, crazy fringe person and such for being a vegetarian. This no longer concerns me because I can not help but speak out. This issue must be made more public and as Michael Jackson puts it in his "This is It" concert film footage: “It’s US. It’s us that must make a change. Who’s “they”? It’s Us! We can’t wait…something must be done now."
As part of the St. Louis International Film Festival, I attended a screening of “A Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home.” I went knowing that I would be exposed to information I am already familiar with but I wanted to show my support. I knew I’d have to hold my emotions in check. But, the movie is so well done and takes many different perspectives that I found myself choking up about a quarter of the way in. The movie conveyed vividly the emotional lives of farm animals and how they are just as complete and varied as our companion animals. People have long been able to compartmentalize their pets from farm animals. After all, no one would allow their pet dog or cat be treated the way a cow or steer, pig or chicken, or even fish are brutalized in the industry. There is no pain control…NONE…in the farm industry. A chick’s beak is snipped off, tails are chopped off, bones broken, sores, bruises , bites caused by overcrowding, and then… to the slaughter line, aware of what is happening all the time. Not to mention, the mutilations and torture the stressed workers heap upon them, such as electric rods in eyes...I can't write anymore...it's too upsetting. Suffice to say, it is worse than anyone can imagine and worse than the most brutal treatment we can think of in history, such as animal sacrifice, animal testing, bullfighting, circus life, etc…There has never been this much brutal treatment on such a massive scale in all our history. The statistics are staggering…and sobering! 55 billion a year, EACH year, EVERY year. OMG...that is incomprehensible...but true! We need to open our eyes...all of us!
Refreshingly, the movie features professionals who have spent much of their lives within the industry operating as large-scale feedlot “ranchers” and chicken “farmers”. Their testimonials are powerful! One of those featured appeared in person and took part in a forum after the movie. He was knowledgeable and impressive. I was stunned by his expertise, honesty and compassion. I have new faith in humankind. I feel kindred spirits and have regained my heart and hope in trying to spread the word and effect change that will better all lives involved both human and farm animal.
I wish to thank a number of people who I don’t know (and they don’t know me, that’s for sure) for using their resources, power, creativity and talent to bring this issue to the forefront to try and make a difference:
The makers of a “Peaceable Kingdom”: Jenny Stein, Director; James LaVeck,Producer; Kevin Smith, Producer; and Harold Brown, featured subject and panel participant. Though I know many more are involved, I do not have that information. However, I do wish to extend an acknowledgement to PETA, who I did disparage during the forum because I had lost faith that they were involved in this cause. I believe that organization did support the making of this movie and are otherwise engaged in making efforts to effect change within the industry.
Michael Pollan: Author of “An Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and “ In Defense of Food.” Well written books, very entertaining, very informative and very honest and sincere. He reaches conclusions that are different than mine, but nonetheless, the reader is asked to search for himself using the knowledge he has gained about the industry to decide how he wants to live his life. I admired this sentiment more at an earlier time than I do now and after further reflection, especially after reading "Eating Animals,", I have reconsidered and think Pollan's position in the end is weak.
Jonathan Safran Foer: Author of “Eating Animals.” Wow, is all I can say. I am floored. What an inspiration. I can feel his passion seep (no, ooze) through the pages. I am savoring every word and I don’t want this book to end. If only I had the talent…this is the book I’d be writing.
Eric Schlosser: (OMG…I spelled his name right off top of my head…I just checked online to make sure!) Author of “Fast Food Nation.” Absolutely loved the book and liked the movie too even though it definitely was a flawed effort. I thought the movie whitewashed the important issues and focused on peripheral issues that diluted what could have been a very strong message. However, the soundtrack is outstanding and it needs to be more widely heard. It is emotive while it rocks! Great to listen to when running...talk about inspiring! Where is the promotion for it?
And all the other reporters, writers, journalists, authors, artists, etc… since the early 1900’s for caring and doing their best to get out the information!