Posted on New York Times on December 16, 2021
Excerpt — Read full article HERE.
How we treat farm animals today will be seen, I believe, as a defining moral failing of our age. Humans have always eaten animals. We’ve hunted them, bred them, raised them and consumed them. What’s changed over the past century is that we’ve developed the technology to produce meat in industrialized conditions, and that has opened vast new vistas for both production and suffering.
In past eras, we didn’t have the antibiotics and sanitation chemicals needed to keep so many animals crowded so closely together, nor the preservation and transportation technologies needed to ship them en masse. Disease would rip through thick flocks, and carcasses would spoil across long trips. Today, the factory farms that produce the overwhelming majority of meat, both globally and domestically, are dark marvels of technology, as are the carefully bred and managed animals inside them.
Since the 1950s, broiler chickens have roughly quadrupled in size, and it now takes them six weeks, not 15, to grow to slaughter weight. These are inventions, not just chickens. But the cheap meat they made possible sent demand skyrocketing: In the United States alone, the available amount of chicken meat per person has shot from about 10 pounds in 1910 to about 65 pounds in 2018.