One of the hubby's modules in for his degree is 'Animals and Ethics' and currently they are looking at the un/ethical treatment of animals used in the food prodution industry. This has incited numerous debates in our household over the last week as it is a subject i feel very strongly about.
One thing i have never understood is how easy it is to be blinded by a situation. An example of this is my mum, who flat out refuses to buy anything other than free range eggs as she doesn't approve of battery farming or keeping chickens in barns. However she will quite happily by a cheep chicken to roast despite the fact that the poor animal will have been kept in very similar conditions as one producing cheep eggs. How can one feel so strongly about a subject but only direct it to one aspect?
Unfortunatly with the economy being the way it is, most familys (ours included) cannot afford the luxuray of buying free range, organic produce. Every week i stand in the supermaket in the meat isle frozen with indecision between cheep meat that i venomously appose the production methods of and free range organic meat that our budjet really can't afford. Do i essentially support a cause i despise in order to feed my family? or do i leave us short of money in order to support my ethics? What sort of example am i setting to my children if i am telling them to stand up for what they believe in, yet not doing the same myself?
The unfortunate truth is its a vicious cycle by buying the cheeper meat (or veg for that matter) i am putting money into the producers pockets allowing them to continue and I don't see a feesable way to break the cycle.
I have considered many compramises including purchasing the RSPCA's freedom food approved meat. Yet after reading the producers guidelines of what is acceptable and what is not in order to gain their seal of approval, i don't really think the way the animal's are treated is any more acceptable. In fact it makes me shudder to think of how the non freedom food animal's are treated if i disaprove of what the RSPCA deem acceptable.
To name but a few of what the is acceptable to gain freedom food status - i use the example of chickens as that is what we mostly eat.
The chicken's only need to be allowed 2.5cm of access to food per bird.
In the 3 days prior to slaughter they only need 3 hours of darkness.
There only needs to be 2m of perch per 1000 birds.
There only needs to be 30cm between adjacent perches (fancy sleeping with someone elses bum in your face! i know i certainly wouldn't like it)
The birds are allowed up to 4% of burns on their feet.
This is just a few examples from a very very long document on guidelines for producers. The full documents can be viewed online here.
The current compromise i'm looking into is cooking vegetarian meals 3-4 nights and buying the sort of meat i don't feel wracked with guilt over buying. Now i just have to find some good vegetarian recipies.
I would like to point out that all views expressed are my own personal opinions and that i fully support the work of the RSPCA and believe they do a wonderful job and have supported the charity myself on several occasions.