LETTER: Best way to stop animal cruelty is to stop eating meat

One positive coming from the recent horsemeat scandal is that many have decided they have had enough of the uncertainties and cruelty of the meat industry. An increasing number of people have said that enough-is-enough and are now going veggie or vegan.

However, other consumers should not be hoodwinked by the farming industry and their recent attempts to convince that buying British means high welfare.

Quite apart from the issue of eating horse meat, it would be wrong to think other animals destined for the nation’s dinner tables do not suffer.

The scale of animal killing in Britain is quite staggering. Over 950 million land animals are slaughtered each year in this country and the majority of those are intensively farmed.

Have you ever wondered where all the chickens are? Considering they are the most eaten animal in Britain, isn’t it strange there aren’t fields of them? That’s because they are packed into in gigantic sheds in their tens of thousands and killed at just six weeks old. They don’t call them factory farms for nothing. You can add British ducks to that toll, most who never see the outside or have access to water for swimming. What an insult to what is essentially an aquatic bird!

What about British pigs? Again, where are they? You may have seen outside farrowing units, but most sows are kept indoors in crates so small she can’t even turn around.

These mothers suffer this indignity around twice a year, for five weeks at a time. Imagine the outcry if we did the same thing to dogs! Even those piglets born outside are nearly always moved indoors to spend their pitifully short lives in Britain’s pig slums.

What the farmers and supermarkets also don’t tell you about British animal farming is it relies on the mutilation of baby animals. 80% of Britain’s piglets are mutilated each year; their tails or back teeth cut off. The reason? To try to prevent the very behaviours that unnatural factory farming practices create. Hens still have the tips of their beaks cut off; lambs are often castrated – and so it goes on. The worst of it all is that anaesthetics are hardly ever used because of staggering belief that baby animals don’t feel pain. We would beg to differ, as I’m sure you may too. Yet it is all legal.

Whatever the standards animals are kept in, they all end up in the same place: the cacophony and terror of the slaughterhouse. There is no such thing as humane slaughter. What is humane about taking the life of a young, healthy animal that wants to live?

Thankfully, more and more people are saying no. The easiest way to stop animal cruelty is not to buy British meat it is to stop eating meat at all.

For free help in going veggie or vegan contact Viva! on 0117 944 1000 or email info@viva.org.uk.

JUSTIN KERSWELL

Viva! campaigns manager