Sunday, 26 June 2011

Medium Rare

Steak, is a beautiful thing, there is nothing I love better than a big thick piece of rib fillet, medium rare with Dianne sauce. I’m pretty sure I’m drooling just thinking about it. Where does out meat come from though? I used to work at a meat works; it’s where I met Mr. Man actually and where he still works. Part of the Certificate II Meat Processing Abattoirs (which they used to make you do when they employed you – so they could pay you traineeship wages!) is to do a tour of the plant and see what happens from start to finish. I was so intrigued by this experience that to this day, it is still one of my FAVOURITE stories to tell people with weak stomachs!

We are lucky here in Australia though, that our meat for consumption is handled in the way that it is. From what I have seen, the cattle in Australia are killed humanely, they are dead when they are drained of blood and sent into the kill floor where they are split into a million pieces and distributed to different departments. Some would argue that there is no humane way to intentionally kill an animal that wouldn’t have died at that time naturally. Yep, I would agree with you, probably. If you are going to argue that then there is NO way to humanely die. That people in hospitals that can’t fend for themselves should be taken off the drips and off the support that is keeping them alive and should be left for nature to take its course.

I know that you are thinking, how dare you compare animal life to human life, but what makes humans so amazing. We are all creatures of this earth. Humans, Animals, Nature, we are all Earthlings. I actually watched a documentary called Earthlings not that long ago, and it really affected me in a way that I wasn’t sure it would. It had me in tears in some parts, but I can’t say that it changed my way of thinking about things. It’s predominantly a documentary about the human relationship with animals on this earth. How we discriminate against them and place them below us, sometimes very below us, for our own gain. It focuses a lot on speciesism (the assigning of different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species membership). It is voiced by Joaquin Phoenix who manages to maintain one tone throughout the whole thing which is weirdly soothing while not taking away from the horrific images on the screen.

There are some amazing quotes throughout the whole thing which really moved me. I was trying to find a transcript for it so that I could pull some of them out, but I couldn’t. One of my favorites, which I was able to remember, was:
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far beneath ourselves. And therein we err, we greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by name. In a world older and more complex than ours they more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth. – Henry Beston
I won’t lie, that quote, writing it, gave me Goosebumps. This guy is seriously onto something. The first animals were on earth before humans were. Our lineage all traces back to those micro-organisms billions of years ago, human and animal alike.

After the quotes and the speech the documentary breaks into five parts showing ways that we as humans discriminate animals place in the world. The first part is about using animals as pets and highlights the conditions of puppy farms as well as the overcrowding in pounds and general human attitude towards them. Its shows dogs being euthanized by lethal injection, as well as the use of gas chambers for dogs and cats in budget restricted animal shelters. It also shows the complete disregard and lack of compassion of some humans as a large dog is thrown in the back of a garbage truck and crushed. I will never forget the images of the dogs dropping immediately after the injection or the cats being put into these cages and then tipped out like a big fur rug. By the time this section was over I had tears rolling down my cheeks. It really shows the importance of responsible pet ownership and being sure when you are taking one on that you really can afford all of the responsibilities and time. The biggest thing is getting your pet desexed to try and stop all these hundreds of animals being put down every month. As someone who would do anything to make sure that my dogs were safe and happy, I really feel as though some people just aren’t doing enough, or loving enough. I can say with certainty that when we lose my gorgeous paw kids to the big leash free park in the sky, we will be adopting, either from the local pound, or a local animal organization. I want to be able to give an animal that hasn’t been given the chance to have a family, the opportunity to know what it is to be loved.

The next part is about where our meat comes from. Its shows the disgusting conditions in pig farms, including the treatment of sows, which are kept continually pregnant through artificial insemination and are in a sense, baby factories. It shows how they cut the teeth, ears, tails and castrate piglets, with no anesthetic, at a very young age. It shows the abbesses and missing body parts of grown up pigs in cramped conditions with nothing to do. It shows milking cows and how they are unable to graze, chained to their stalls until they die. It highlights the conditions in chicken farms and the overcrowding as well as the battery hen cages. The whole thing makes your skin crawl. Then they show the process of killing the animals. This depends on the type of animal, the plant, and the plan standards. All of what they show is horrendous. Many of the animals are still alive when their throats are cut and they bleed to death going down the line for processing. Like I have said before, I have worked in the meat industry for a little while and I have seen how they done this. So I know that the standards here in Australia are very high. It just makes me sad to know that these animals are suffering, all for the consumption of humans.

It then goes on to highlight the use of animals in Fashion. IM not talking about having a little Paris Hilton dog, but the use of their skin and fur in coats, shoes, bags, belts, all things fashion. This was one of the sections that I nearly couldn’t watch. It shows the cows of Indian families, being bought with the promise of being taken to a farm to live out the rest of their days. It then shows their harrowing journey to the one place in India where the killing of cows is allowed. Starved and roped they are loaded in and out of trucks with no ramps. Broken bones are not uncommon. They also break their tails to get them moving and when they are very hard to move, chili is rubbed into their eyes, often causing loss of sight. When they get to the end they are inhumanely killed in front of other cows. It’s very hard to watch. It also shows fur farms, where man animals are caught in the wild and put in cages to live out the rest of their days. They develop cage madness and are used as breeders as well. They are often carried out, past the carcasses of recently dead animals, to a place where they have an electric rod put up their anus, and a conductor bar put in their mouth, this is an insanely painful way to be killed, and many times the process has to be repeated multiple times. The one thing that I will never, ever forget, for all the rest of my days was a part in this section where a man, skins an animal, and once the skin is off, the animal blinks and looks at itself. I had to stop watching for a little bit at this point. My sobbing was waking up Mr. Man, the image is etched into my mind for the rest of my life.

The use of animals for entertainment is next highlighting the inadequacies of Circus to cater for their animals as well as the cruelty they face as part of their training. The way the trainers treat the Elephants and Lions is unbelievable. Then seeing the elephant go crazy and start killing people, escaping the circus and running down the street before it is subdued by multiple men with handguns as it is deemed dangerous. Nobody seems to stop and think what these circus animals face during their time at the circus. I support the current efforts in Australia to stop animal circuses from operating. No animal should be kept in cages and forced to perform day in day out. They do not do it because they are willing; they are only doing it because of a fear of pain. It shows the horrible deaths of bulls at the hands of matadors in Spain as well as the use of animals in rodeos. It really makes you stop and think about the impact that we have on them, and if we keep going to these events, then we are just supporting the industry and things will never change.

The last part is the use of animals for Medical and Military research. There are a lot of images in here that are hard to watch, and it is an incredibly touchy subject with a lot of people. There are arguments for, and against. I don’t believe that we are built the same way as animals. Their senses are not the same as ours and their pain receptors are different. They won’t always react the way that we will.

It goes on to recite some more information before coming to an end. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things that are going on in the world and it makes me a little bit sad. Like the animals that were shown to be mistreated in the way they were handled in Indonesia, so Australia put a trade ban on them. That was the only reason that I stumbled across this video actually, and it really made me sad. It has a very Vegan view on animals and it basically outlaws eating meat, or meat related products at all. I don’t think I could do that. I love my meat, but if we are going to take this extreme, and let’s face it, if you have watched the movie it has an extreme Vegan viewpoint.  If we are going to take it for what it is then, Humans, Animals, Nature are all earthlings, because trees are living things as well, and plants breathe. Well, what about vegetables, they grow as well, and they reproduce. Doesn’t that make them a living being as well? Were you a vegetable in your past life, do you know what it feels like to be cut in half? Probably not, but there seems to be a lot of research that shows they are more “conscience” than might be understood, that they respond to electromagnetic fields, physical stimulation and in some cases even music and words.

In some viewpoints this might come across as uninformed arrogance to put more value on one life form over another. Life is life. If you don’t want to kill then you are probably going to starve because life feeds on life, and its necessary, If you were out in the wild, whatever animal was going to have you for dinner, wouldn’t think twice about it. Nobody calls that inhumane and as humans we are designed to eat both meat and herbs over many years of evolution.

No matter how you look at it, the images in the documentary are horrible. But it just highlights the way that the meat producing industry needs to change where it is getting its meat from, and how it processes the meat. Not that we need to stop eating meat completely. If the system is going to change then you are going to have to expect an increase in prices because of all the additional guidelines that will have to be followed. Meat is always going to be available, whether it was processed properly or not. And I’m not going to stop eating meat, probably not ever. I’m just going to make better choices. Ensuring that no leather products I buy are from India. Making sure I am buying free range eggs and chicken. That my meat is born from the local meat works, where I KNOW the meat is processed correctly. Continue to be a responsible pet owner. We need to think about how the choices we make are impacting a being that may not think like us, but that still feels pain, fear, hunger, that still know what it is to be uncomfortable. I’m going to post the link below so that you can make the decision for yourself.

All this talk about animal cruelty has made me a little bit sad…I’m going to go and hug my dogs and tell them I love them. I’ll be over for dinner soon, I want my steak Medium Rare…!

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