By Tupac Zapata
Harrowing images on my phone from an Australian slaughterhouse had an immediate impact on me during my morning coffee routine.
The four-minute clip was quite disturbing. Hundreds of pigs in crowded spaces that do not allow them any mobility, spend their short lives in horrific conditions being tortured and eventually led to their deaths.
My eyes began to well up more with every passing minute of that footage, and I felt awful. I felt guilty of perpetuating the suffering and extermination of these creatures because pork is my favorite meat, and I know that throughout my lifetime, I have probably eaten the equivalent of one of those slaughterhouse rooms. One of my goals in life is to one day be a vegetarian.
The first 33 days of this year I was a vegan since I decided to try out the “veganuary challenge” with my wife and I felt great. The plant-based diet yielded good results and even helped me shed almost 10 pounds. It is time to retake that challenge and eventually convert it to a lifestyle. I gave up alcohol four years ago, and I would like to do the same thing with meat.
When I lived in Honduras, meat was expensive, and we only ate it on certain occasions—one or two times per week. So, we mostly were vegetarian albeit for economic reasons. We mostly ate meat on special occasions like parties and holidays.
Meat is so cheap in this country. It saddens me when I look at the price tag whenever I buy a whole chicken. We have given animal lives very little value. Profits matter more than giving an animal space to walk around freely and get a glimpse of dignity. I’m horrified and outraged when I hear of dogs and cats being eaten in other countries, but I’m aware of my double standards.
Americans eat four ounces of meat per day and all that consumption does have an impact on our environment and society. Too much meat can lead to serious health risks like heart disease, diabetes, food poisoning and many other ailments. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to have come from a wet market in China, where wild animals are sold and slaughtered for consumption.
I can only imagine how desensitized the workers at these death ranches must be, and I wonder if any of them own pets. The nightmares of squealing pigs as they die must haunt some of these people. Seeing thousands of headless chickens flapping their wings everyday has got to suck unless that person is a psychopath or just someone with not too many options. It definitely has to be one of the toughest jobs that someone has got to do and I feel for them.
It is impossible for all humans to adopt a vegetarian diet, but it is possible to raise those animals in much better conditions. Allowing the animals to have space to move and play and live full lives can justify paying higher prices, thus reducing how often people would eat meat.