Help Stop Cruelty to Animals

Maybe it's because I'm worn out by the political bickering and the worrisome news about the market being in a tailspin, but I just clicked on a link to a breaking story about pigs being tormented, raped, and beaten in an Iowa slaughterhouse. I normally protect myself from seeing such things, thinking that I don't need to watch graphic videos of animal abuse since I'm already vegetarian and the videos are too upsetting.

This video brought me to tears, but I'm glad I watched it. It reminded me that I should keep prodding myself to stay awake and aware of abuse and injustice. The truth hurts, but it can also heal -- if we take it personally and take steps to make a difference.

Workers at the Iowa plant -- which supplies pigs to Hormel and other companies -- hit pigs with metal rods, kicked them, and ripped across their backs with clothespins. They sprayed paint up pigs' nostrils and in their eyes and slammed piglets onto the concrete floor. The undercover investigator saw a supervisor ram a cane into a pig's vagina and shove a metal rod up pigs' anuses. Workers bragged about hurting animals and urged the investigator to abuse pigs. One worker told the investigator, "You gotta beat on the bitch. Make her cry." The investigator was instructed to pretend that a pig scared off a willing, voluptuous 17- or 18-year-old girl, and to beat the pig for it.

No one wants to see and hear such vile things, but we can't ignore them either. This kind of cruelty is a reflection on our country, our sense of pride for being decent people. If you think the video is too disturbing to watch, you'll know why we must not support such abuse. Who are we as a country if we aren't acting -- and eating -- based on our most basic principles of decency? Who are we if we passively choose to eat bacon or pork chops rather than push ourselves just a little to try new, more humane, foods instead?

Businesses will not do the right thing on their own -- they just won't. Profit will trump animal welfare in most every case. It is up to caring people to push for change, and to be the change we want to see in the world.

We can all bring about positive changes by not buying products that harm animals, by eating a more plant based diet. We can reject cruelty simply by eating veggie dogs rather than hot dogs, or substituting tempeh, or Fakin' Bacon, for bacon. If you live in California, you can vote in favor of Proposition 2, the statewide initiative that would make it illegal for farmers to cram pregnant pigs in small gestation crates and calves into veal crates, and to force six or seven hens to live in tiny cages where they can't do anything that is natural to them.

No matter where you are in the world, you can do something to make a difference for animals.

As Edmund Burke once said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."