Annually, over 500 million farm animals in Australia are subjected to practices that would warrant cruelty charges if the victims were instead dogs or cats. Adopting a vegetarian diet is the most powerful way to object to animal cruelty, and will save around 100 innocent lives every year.
Most of us have spent some of our lives with a dog or a cat, and know that animals can be intelligent, and have a great capacity to love, feel joy, pain and suffering. Animals typically raised for food are no different. In fact, experts agree that pigs have greater intelligence than dogs and three-year-old children. Chickens develop strong bonds with their babies, can visually recognise the faces of over 100 of their friends, and are known to be great problem solvers!
Despite having the same capacity to suffer, farmed animals such as pigs, sheep, cows and chickens are denied the protection of animal cruelty laws that protect dogs and cats. This means that it is legal to cause suffering to animals raised for food. This includes painful surgical mutilations (without pain relief) and in most cases intensive and unnatural overcrowding or confinement.
There are over 500 million animals confined like this in factory farms in Australia today. These are places where thinking, feeling animals are considered little more than production units. Factory farming practices have been developed at minimum cost to the producer, and at great expense to the animals.
Pigs are argued to be one of the smartest species outside the primate family, yet in factory farms, mother pigs may legally be confined in barren metal cells so small that they cannot even turn around. They endure the trauma of having their babies torn from them and watch on helplessly as their piglets' teeth are painfully clipped, their tails are cut off, and the males are castrated—all without pain relief. Read more...
Cows raised for dairy may also have their tails cut off, and male calves grown for their meat suffer castration without anaesthetic. But that's not all. Calves may be 'disbudded'—a process in which the sensitive horn tissue is scraped out of their skulls or burnt with a hot iron. Cattle that are not 'disbudded' as calves may face having their horns painfully cut off prior to transport. There are also up to one million cattle in feedlots in Australia, kept in groups in pens and fed high protein grain diets and denied any opportunity to graze.
Chickens often have the tips of their beaks cut off with a hot blade before being crammed into battery cages where they spend their lives in a space smaller than the size of one A4 sheet of paper. Unwanted male chicks are gassed or ground up alive. Hens raised for meat spend their six-week lives stuffed in sheds at 20 birds per square metre. Bred to grow at 3 times their natural rate, they suffer crippling, broken bones, lameness and even death from heart failure. Read more...
In their final hours, all animals (including ‘free range’), face the stress of cramped transportation on trucks bound for slaughterhouses. Here they are subjected to stunning by electrocution or a bolt in the skull, before having their throats slit and being hung up side down to bleed to death. When mistakes are made, animals can sometimes endure this harrowing experience whilst conscious.
The average meat-eater consumes around 100 animals every year. That's how many innocent animals can be spared from cruelty each time someone makes the decision to shift to a healthy vegetarian diet.