It’s Time To Phase Out Factory Farms, And Just Eat Less Meat!

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I think it’s time to eat less meat, and to phase out factory farms, in favor of family farms! Don’t you?

Factory: “A building or group of buildings where goods are manufactured or assembled chiefly by machine.​”

Farm: “An area of land and its buildings used for growing crops and rearing animals, typically under the control of one owner or manager.​”

When we slaughter animals for food, unnecessarily, we kill our innate human kindness. When we treat animals as ‘goods’ in a factory, we lose touch with our humanity.

It’s time to phase out factory farms, in favor of family farms. Or at least a family farm approach to livestock management. If we all ate a little less meat, the transition would be easier.

Due to the pressures of busy lives, and the efficiency of modern manufacturing processes, our feelings become numb. We forget where our food comes from.

FitOldDog Aged 6 300 200

The author, age 6, or was it 5? In post-war England.

I suspect that this wonderful country, the United States of America, would benefit from a return to family farms, and rural railways for that matter. Maybe I’m just dreaming of my youth, in England, but I’m horrified by factory farms. Do we really have to do that?

As a boy and then a young man, in post-war (WWII) England, family farms played a big role in my life. In fact, there were no factory farms. In Grammar School (High School in the USA), I worked weekends on a ‘small holding.’ A very small family farm, of about 20 acres. Such operations were a common part-time source of income. As England recovered from the bombing and loss of life.

Most people had a vegetable garden or an ‘allotment,’ left over from the war. They were called Victory Gardens. We watched our food growing. As opposed to seeing it for the first time in a grocery store.

FitOldDog in his vegetable garden.

I do love my vegetable garden.

Pigs for meat, chickens for eggs, cattle for beef, milk, cheese and yoghurt, and of course, turkeys for Christmas. Have you ever made real yoghurt – it’s very different from yoghurt in the stores, today. We had lots of healthy work, and a supply of fresh vegetables in the warmer months. In the winter, you could eat from a potato and apple clamp in the garden, along with some dried and bottled produce. Lots of work! Lots of fun! Later, I turned to making homemade wines, using beetroot or parsnips from the garden. It was just the way we lived.

Listen to the animals. They know what life is all about.

While England was in recovery, we did eat some meat, usually a chicken once or twice a month, between a family of six. It was a highly appreciated treat. Followed by soup or stew within a few days, made from the carcass. These chickens weren’t puffed up with chemicals (e.g. poly-phosphates). They would look pretty scrawny to kids today, but boy, they were tasty.

As Mom said, “They’re full of goodness.

Then I became a country vet. Driving from one family farm to another, all day, and often all night.

Families generally care about their critters.

I don’t think factories have such feelings. They create money and a lot of food. Not much happiness for the animals involved. Some of this food is laden with hormones and antibiotics.

Rabbit in FitOldDog's vegetable gardenAs I was crossing a road the other day, I passed a family. This small group included a frail old man, and a woman helping him. I assumed she was his daughter from her manner. She was firmly telling the man to watch the curb, explaining that it was “a different height.” He replied, angrily, that he knew what a curb was, long before she was born. I understand how the old man felt.

People don’t like being told what to do.

I don’t plan to tell you what to do. I am hoping that my next book will persuade some people, at least, to save some animals from unnecessary suffering. In order to achieve this goal, I decided to tell stories about animals I encountered as a veterinarian in England. To revive memories of the days when factory farms didn’t exist.

FitOldDog's fall planting.

There is nothing like working the soil. Photo by FitOldDog

Many of you have probably heard of James Herriot (James Alfred “Alf” Wight), an English country vet and a wonderful storyteller. If you want to know what life was like back then, on the old English country farms, read ‘All Creatures Great And Small.‘ His tales of rural life in Yorkshire, England, are remarkable. As good today as they were back then.

Dare I say it? I became a competent vet, and was liked by many of the farmers. However, my life took a different turn. After three years of treating cattle, sheep and pigs, in small farming communities of Somerset and Devon, I became a pathologist. Then a researcher. No longer a saver, but a user, some would say abuser, of animals. I found my calling, research scientist, which I enjoyed for the next 40 years. But I had no desire to kill animals in the process!

The Omnivore's Dilemma book recommended by FitOldDog

A fascinating book. Makes you think!

I know that stories can be powerful. I want my stories to persuade people to stop hurting animals. This includes eating them, when it’s not necessary. Sometimes it’s justifiable to use animals, but not as often as most people like to think.

I have eaten lots of animals in my life; most of this was not necessary, but I didn’t know it at the time. I killed a great many rats and mice, and a few sheep and frogs, in my research. The goal of this work was to reduce human and non-human animal suffering, through an understanding of the nature of disease. Did I do the right thing? I’ve often wondered! But now is the time to move on, and focus on saving animals instead of using them.

As I want my stories to be effective, I thought, “Maybe I can emulate some writers that I admire!

First I considered one of my favorites, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. I reached for his lovely little book, about taming foxes and roses, and reread it. How on Earth did he come up with the idea of drawing a box for the lamb demanded by the Little Prince? It was the only thing that worked, because it allowed the Little Prince to see the lamb he wanted. So wise! I’m not an artist, and I can’t think or write like that. But I would like to encourage your imagination to blossom when it comes to saving animals.

James Herriot

James Herriot: “I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs.

How about All Creatures Great And Small, by James Herriot. I just reread the first few chapters. He describes so many of my experiences in rural veterinary practice. But so evocative. He brought those characters to life in his narratives, including the animals. No, I can’t write like that, even though I lived everyone of the animal stories he told!

Who is my favorite author? When it comes to talking about animals?” The obvious answer is JRR Tolkien. Such remarkable, and detailed, descriptions of life, plant and animal. Nope, I love Biology, but that kind of in-depth, descriptive narrative is beyond me. Not a chance!

FitOldDog's glycogen diagram.

Seems like ages since I drew this diagram for our work on glycogen dynamics. Science writing takes all the joy out of writing. Not Good! Image linked to source.

There’s always that wonderful book, the only one of which I was jealous when it comes to writing, The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. Take this sentence, for example. It’s the narrator of the story, Death, as he comes for you. “The only sound I’ll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps.” The sound of the smell of my footsteps? What a creepy sentence. But then, it is Death speaking. Nope, not a chance! How about Silent Spring, by Rachael Carson, which saved millions of animals, especially birds? But that’s enough!

I don’t want to be boring and write like a scientist. Science trains us to make fascinating subjects tedious to the point of pain – if you don’t generate a narrative dry as old bones, out of your exciting observations, the journals refuse to publish your work.

How will I write to persuade people to abuse fewer animals, I wonder?

By setting an example, myself, I guess?

FitOldDog in his pro-vegan tee

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.