on consuming corpses.
The spirit of Halloween was very much alive in my home yesterday – the first trick-or-treating experience at our very own house, along with pumpkin carving, and the most perfectly eerie doom-and-gloom weather, plus an all day marathon of American Horror Story on the TV. In fact, the spirit has been alive all month, as we decorated our home for Fall, and baked some Halloween treats for a party last weekend. Yes, those are nearly Pinterest-fail-worthy vegan “Meatball Mummies” pictured above, made by combining Chloe Coscarelli’s Tempeh Meatball recipe (she is amazing, BTW, so check her out here) with long strips of Whole Foods prepared pizza dough. And despite their unfortunate appearance, they were quite tasty, and surely, the closest I’ll ever come to actually consuming a corpse ever again.
Of course, I know that Halloween – with all of its blood and gore and death and demons – is all in good fun. There is no harm, right, when we simply make-believe?
But Halloween season tends to stir up some vividly graphic images that I typically keep deeply buried in my mind. The blood and the gore and the death and the demons – they all bear a shocking resemblance to the real-life horrors I’ve seen with my very own eyes.
Or, I guess, more accurately – through the gaps between my trembling fingers as I covered my eyes in terror.
But let’s rewind.
I didn’t watch animal farming videos until I had stopped eating meat. I stopped eating meat because it started to gross me out. And I believe my vegetarianism provided me with just enough protection from guilt to expand my curiosity. I had to know the truth, no matter how horrible. Here is my journey, through questions:
We live in a civilized society. The animal farming industry can’t be that bad, right?
What I found was that each video from the animal farming industry – from meat, egg, and dairy farms – is a literal horror film. There is nothing okay about it – no moment to breathe, no peaceful silence. Just pure violence. It’s blood and gore and death and demons, for the animals and for the workers. And it’s happening, for real, all around us, right now.
I have no intention of being dramatic or hyperbolic here. Unfortunately the facts speak for themselves. I think that people like to believe their own version of the truth – that farmed animals live idyllic lives and die peaceful deaths, and I’m sure I wanted to believe that once, too. Because my next thought was…
These have to be isolated incidents. How is this even legal?
I’m sure you may have seen clips from “undercover investigation” videos when they happen to penetrate mainstream media, and are then followed by the same old statements from animal farms under fire. We are shocked and appalled, and will continue to investigate this isolated incident. This doesn’t comply with our humane standards of safety. The employees responsible have been released.
Which of course, I learned, is all a bunch of crap. Because almost every example of cruelty or abuse is completely legal.
To be fair, there is something in the United States called the Humane Slaughter Act. However, I’d like to point out that the title itself is contradictory, because I’m not sure how you can “humanely” slaughter an animal who does not actually need or want to die. But, moving on.
The truth is that the Humane Slaughter Act excludes all chickens and other birds, which make up over 90% of all animals killed for food in the United States. I repeat: over 90% of all animals killed for food have no legal protection. Once you’ve processed that, I’m sorry…but there is more.
Because the 9 billion land animals slaughtered each year in the U.S. are also subject to anything deemed a “standard industry practice”, which means exemptions can be made for practices that are considered “common” among animal farmers. Some of these include:
- tail docking and castration without painkillers,
- living in a space so small you cannot turn your body around while simultaneously being starved or continuously impregnated,
- and, you know, being ground up alive…just to name a few.
I will spare you the rest (because there are too many to list) and hope that someday, should you desire the whole truth, you will research it yourself. And so it is no wonder that memories of animal farming videos haunt my brain during the month of October. These “common” practices are quite literally the makings of a horror film. Like, I mean, read them again and imagine them in a scary movie, because they are actually what nightmares are made of. Except they are a reality, and they are happening legally, every second of every day. Which brings me to this final thought…
All of this is outrageously terrible and I hate it and I might throw up. What can I do about it?
The answer is: I can stop supporting it. There are many other horrors in the world for which I cannot control. But this one falls within the realm of my own personal power. I can make the choice three times a day (plus snacks, of course) to not eat animals or their secretions.
Because, really. If you can’t even bear to think about where your food came from, should you really be eating it?
A final thought from the vegan lens: I have these moments where I am absolutely consumed by the overwhelming reality that… People. Eat. Dead. Bodies.
And I simply can’t get over it. Sometimes I say it out loud to remember that it is a real, true fact.
“Oh my god. People eat dead bodies. That is a regular thing that actually happens in the world,” I will say.
And then, I start to visualize billions of dead body parts, on plates, all over the world, waiting to be eaten. Because it is a real, true fact that humans are consuming corpses every day without giving it a second thought. And perhaps that is the scariest thought of all.