This isn’t exactly news but what goes on behind your fav dish of ayam penyet isn’t exactly all sunshine and daisies.
No matter how ‘local’, ‘organic’, ‘family-farmed’ and ’free-range’ your meat is, these terms don’t really mean anything. Slaughterhouses remain death camps where animals are bought, sold, kept, bred, used, and killed. Tens of thousands of them live in cramped spaces, among their own shit and grime. In order to maximise profits, they are raised on growth hormones to become bigger and fatter exponentially, only to be slaughtered at adolescence.
Humans are the only species on earth who consume milk from another animal, which is pretty weird. The milk produced from the mother cow is biologically meant for her baby’s needs, so it’s strange that we consume their milk for ‘nutritional value’. It’s no coincidence that 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, and for a good reason.
Despite what those happy cow cartoons in ads might say, cows don’t actually lactate all the time for no reason. In order for that to happen, the cows are artificially inseminated, or in other words, forcibly impregnated by injecting a tube of sperm into the cow’s vagina. After giving birth, they lactate for 10 months (her baby is taken away from her) and then the painful process is repeated again and again.
Slaughterhouse workers are usually on shitty contracts, poor, don’t have basic working rights, and oftentimes are undocumented, so they can’t go for help. Not to mention, the post-traumatic stress disorder that comes from killing mindlessly all day.
To top that off, agriculture is incredibly destructive to the environment. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the animal industry is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide. This is more than the entire transportation sector contributing to the leak in our ozone layer.
Furthermore, the animal excretions from these factory farms go into lagoon pools, and disease the entire area. Those who aren’t financially well off would have to live with this.
“The faeces, the ammonia – all that stuff – we have to breathe it in, because we have to breathe,” a resident of an affected area says. On top of physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, excessive coughing, watery eyes, and intense nausea, area residents often experience anxiety and depression from the sense of helplessness they feel.
The UN agrees that “vegan is the future, out of necessity,“ continuing that “we currently produce enough food to feed the world, but feed it to animals we later kill instead.” Malaysia spends about RM3.2bil yearly importing three million tonnes of maize from Argentina to feed our livestock. Besides that, additional land, water, and energy resources are required to house and raise the animals and dispose of their waste. Eventually, even more energy is required to transport these animals to slaughter and process their bodies.
To put it in simple terms, it is estimated that people who eat beef use 160 times more land, water, and fuel resources to sustain their diets compared to their plant-based counterparts.
On a lighter note, going vegan is just a whole lot friendlier on the wallet. Here is a prison that went vegetarian solely because of it being cheaper. Beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, whole grains, and nuts are all much more affordable alternatives to meat.
Despite the widespread myth that you can’t get enough protein from a plant-based diet, this is rarely an issue for vegan diets. The only vitamin we should be concerned about is vitamin B12, which is actually a concern for everyone on every diet. It is produced by bacteria in the soil, but has since been depleting through food washing, pesticides, and modern agricultural practices like mono cropping. Which is why the meat you eat comes from animals that were given B12 supplements.
With all these depressing facts, it can seem overwhelming or even futile, to consider going vegan. However, it should be noted that agriculture is founded on the veil of secrecy that has protected these questionable practices for so long, combined with the magic of food marketing. These industries are ultimately driven on the laws of demand and supply – therefore, individual choice is real and it matters.
For more information on veganism, check out this link.