Crippled. Weak. Afraid. Black and white fur matted with feces stands on end. Frail, undeveloped legs fight to stay upright in the concrete chamber of mud, manure, and mold, which has been home for the 8 months spent on Earth. Squeals, yelps, and fear fill the air, all sourced from a fully-aware creature. Frightened bloodshot eyes stare death in the face. 25 million animals face the same fate each day in the United States: the end of their life in a house of horror. If Americans fail to reduce the demand for meat by altering their meat-heavy diets, then the careless and inhumane slaughtering of animals will continue to leave an irreversible stamp of cruelty and damage to the environment.
Current destructive methods of animal slaughter solely rest on the heightened demand to obtain meat rapidly, cheaply, and efficiently, without reflection on the environmental footprint or wellbeing of the animals. By continuing to consume a surplus of meat, America enables the meat industry to harm the world’s animals, land, and water. A ceaseless choir of helpless squeals of pain reverberates inside hefty prison-like walls, evidencing America’s own animal Holocaust. Not many Americans glance at the delectable steak seated on their plate and think of the miserable life the cow lived before a brutal end. The average family typically avoids such topics at dinnertime discussion.
Nobody wants to talk about animal slaughter; however, the cry of cruelty must be heard–before the future of planet Earth’s environmental beauty comes crumbling to the ground. Although there have been past revelations about animal cruelty during slaughtering as a result of in actions by Congress to protect slaughterhouse animals, enforcement of the federal law—notably the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) by the US Department of Agriculture remains lacking (Jones). Aside from the cruelty inflicted on animals during the slaughter process, United States slaughterhouses are the ranked among the top polluters of water and air.
America’s explosive order for meat results in careless use of “quick” slaughterhouse practices involving the use of carbon dioxide gas chambers, harsh cleaning chemicals, and the deposition of animal feces in waterways. Perhaps the biggest problem of animal slaughter is the American people’s blindness on the harm of a meat-heavy diet. The Department of Agriculture predicted that Americans would eat a record amount of meat and poultry in 2018— 222.2 pounds of it per person, on average, surpassing the 2004 record of 221.9 pounds.
The average American in 2018 ate nearly twice as much of the recommended 5 ounces daily serving of meat, by consuming a hefty 10 ounces of meat per day. (Maynard). High demand deems high supply, and U.S. slaughterhouses are forced to keep up with American meat eaters’ atrocious appetite by failing to instill proper health, safety, environmentally-friendly, and humane regulations. As a result of the heavy demand, each animal must be fed at an extremely accelerated rate to reach “market weight” as fast as possible. Constant feeding and use of The 20-year life expectancy of farm cattle plummets to 18-24 months for beef cattle and just 8 months for beef calves. Likewise, the 20-year life expectancy for a farm pig diminishes to 5-6 months.
These few months granted to the animals are hardly a stroll in the pasture. Male calves raised for slaughter are chained by their necks in wooden crates often for over 16 weeks and then killed. Approximately 20% of the premature piglets die of stress and disease. The survivors are tagged and castrated without anesthesia, then placed in stacked wire cage “nurseries” and fed synthetic replacer milk. Chickens are placed in shackles before slaughterhouse workers break their necks under the pressure to kill at rapid rates. These atrocious shortcomings of proper regulation slip through the cracks as they are Water pollution stands as one of the single most prevalent and concerning environmental issues to face the world today, and slaughterhouses are a major culprit.
United States slaughterhouses are behind dumping over an astronomical 55 million pounds of pollutants into America’s waterways each year. Such pollution, known as suspended solid, includes bacteria-filled materials such as grease, fat, and animal manure. According to the Environmental Working Group, there are eight slaughterhouses ranked among the top 20 polluters of surface water in the U.S. – a ranking also including polluters from other industries. Collectively, these eight slaughterhouses dump 30 million pounds of contaminants including phosphorus, nitrogen, and ammonia into United States waterways in a single year (Farr).
Because of the hefty amount of animals slaughtered each day, wastewater pollution continues to skyrocket without limitation. With supply comes demand as America’s culture of meat induces the environmental havoc. The prevalent problem of contamination as a result of slaughter brings about another burden: gas emissions. The beef, poultry, and pork industries excrete large sums of methane gas and carbon dioxide, among other greenhouse gases. Slaughterhouses produce over 20 percent of the atmosphere’s methane, a notorious catalyst for global warming.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that, from 1990 to 2005, methane emissions from agricultural pig and cow operations escalated over 37 percent and 50 percent respectively, due to the greater amount and concentration of manure from slaughterhouse plants dumped into lagoons. Co-editor Henning Steinfeld of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) encompasses the air pollution caused by the relenting slaughter industry in a Stanford University report, ‘Without a change in current practices, the intensive increases in projected livestock production systems will double the current environmental burden and will contribute to large-scale ecosystem degradation unless appropriate measures are taken…” (Steinfeld qtd. In Brooks). Unregulated slaughter will continue to institute the emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere, an irreplaceable element of Earth.