I was raised by wolves, or at least by a pack of consummate carnivores. I find that not a lot of my friends want to talk to me about animal welfare because they think that, by objecting to how we treat our meat and research animals, I’ve become a brainwashed, tree-hugging hippie who’s trying to convert them to veganism. They like eating their meat, and they get grumpy when they think someone is trying to take it away.
All right. We all love bacon. Pigs provide bacon. You gotta kill pigs to get bacon. Fine.
Now imagine that there are two ways to get bacon out of a pig (or a puppy).
The first way is an old, slow, traditional way: you raise the pig in a nice big space, let it exercise the muscles you’re going to eat, feed and water it properly, give it love, health care, and shelter, and kill it as humanely as possible. You clean the carcass carefully, use as much of it as you can, and only keep and slaughter as many pigs as you can kindly handle. Because you have a lot of time to work with individual animals and to make sure your facilities are clean, this produces clean, fresh bacon — and a lot more of it, off fatter, healthier pigs (or puppies).
The second way is the new, fast, modern way: you raise hundreds of thousands of pigs in small metal boxes in the dark. You grow them so big, so fast, their legs break. You fill them to the eyes with antibiotics so they don’t get sick. You can’t process all the pigs yourself, so you hire (and abuse) minimum-wage workers to do the slaughtering in a partially automated process. Processing 3,000 pigs an hour (one every two seconds), not all the pigs die before being dismembered. Something like 20-30% are “legged”, gutted, and dissected alive. Everything moves so fast there’s no time to clean properly, and carcasses (and everything else) are covered in feces, blood, and other materials. There’s no time to inspect carcasses properly, either, and diseased animals are packaged up for sale. When disease is inevitably discovered in your product, instead of slowing down the line, you wash the meat down in chlorine before you package it.
Either way, you end up eating bacon. But the first way, you’re getting good meat, and the second way, you’re getting meat full of chemical washes, pus, E. coli, and sawdust.
Just for this moment, we’re gonna skip all the animal welfare issues, the worker welfare issues, the adorable little kids dying of E. coli poisoning, and the really cute part where the plants are run and “overseen” by the rich, fat-cat assholes in Washington that you hate, who are even now passing laws to make it easier for them to churn out tainted, sawdust-flavored crap and sell it everywhere. Boiled down to the basic facts: the current system of food production, which supplies most grocery stores and restaurants, turns out horrible, diseased, scary meat which is doused in chemicals and potentially dangerous for you.
Your status as a carnivore is not in question. The question is, which pig (or puppy) would you rather eat?