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Art Censorship
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Notes from the Cultural Wasteland

The N-Word

Pain & the
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Death with Dignity ... or a .22?

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Manifest Destiny in the Balkans

The Cost of a
Full Stomach

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The Cost of
a Full Stomach

by Craig Mazer

There are mass murderers on the loose, legally killing time and time again. As a matter of fact, these hired assassins take over 660,000 lives per hour. Nearly every person in the United States supports this evil business -- the needless slaughter of animals for food.

Humans are, dietarily speaking, an ignorant, heartless bunch. We insist upon taking the lives of innocent, helpless animals to satisfy a false concept of what our diet should be. From this we derive the right to murder, or at least be an accomplice to murder. For the suffering of these animals, whether from the process of being killed or simply in the confinement they face while being "farmed," we benefit with a full stomach.

That full stomach is just one part of the greedy, selfish human whole. For the most part, humans have been able to ignore the health benefits of an animal-free diet and are blind to the obvious moral and ethical issues regarding the unnecessary killing of millions of animals for our extravagant tastes.

However, no one can ignore the truths of factory farming, the process by which animals are raised for food. The realities of the confinement, mistreatment and overcrowding are nauseating. Understanding this side of the animal-based food market will make you think twice when you grill your burger, slap your hot dog in its bun and crack your egg for another omelet.


"A lot of times the skinner finds a cow is still conscious when he slices the side of its head and it starts kicking wildly. If that happens, ... the skinner shoves a knife into the back of its head to cut the spinal cord." (This paralyzes the animal, but doesn't stop the pain of being skinned alive.) And still another worker on calf slaughter: "To get done with them faster, we'd put eight or nine of them in the knocking box at a time ... You start shooting, the calves are jumping, they're all piling up on top of each other. You don't know which ones got shot and which didn't ... They're hung anyway, and down the line they go, wriggling and yelling." -- a cow slaughterhouse worker.

Most cattle are left to fend for itself on the range for months, sometimes years, at a time. This exposes the animal to all kinds of inclement weather causing some to freeze to death or die from dehydration. Because the cattle are free to roam for such a long time, when they are herded to be sold, they are often traumatized by the presence of humans. It is this transportation of the animals that often causes them to be injured. Ranchers also still brand their cattle. There are two types of markings used -- branding, a painful procedure of burning a mark into the cows hide; and waddling, which entails cutting chunks out of the hide which hangs under the animals' necks.

Cattle, for the most part, spend the last few months of their life in feedlots where they are crowded together with thousands of others in unsafe conditions. While there, they are fed unnaturally rich diets designed to fatten them quickly and profitably.

At a standard beef slaughterhouse, 250 cattle are killed every hour. As the assembly line speeds up, workers are rushed, and it becomes increasingly difficult to treat animals with any semblance of humaneness. The cattle are strung up by their back legs and bled to death after they are rendered unconscious. This is done by hitting the animal in the head, however this is terribly imprecise and often leads to a conscious animal having its throat slit while dangling in the air.


"The preferred method of handling a cripple is to beat him to death with a lead pipe before he gets into the chute ... If you get a hog in a chute that's had the shit prodded out of him, and has a heart attack or refuses to move, you take a meat hook and hook it into his bunghole (anus) ... and a lot of times the meat hook rips out of the bunghole. I've seen thighs completely ripped open. I've also seen intestines come out." -- a pig slaughterhouse worker.

Approximately 100 million pigs are raised and slaughtered in the U.S. every year. As babies, they are subjected to painful mutilations without anesthesia or pain relievers. The piglets' tails are cut off to minimize tail biting; an aberrant behavior that occurs when these highly intelligent animals are kept in deprived factory farm environments. In addition, notches are taken out of the piglets' ears for identification.

At 2 to 3 weeks of age, the piglets are taken away from their mothers, by which time, approximately 15% will have died. The surviving piglets are crowded into pens with metal bars and concrete floors. The pigs are then slaughter around the age of 6 months, weighing around 250 pounds.

Modern breeding sows are treated like piglet making machines. Living a continuous cycle of impregnation and birth, the sows each have than 20 piglets per year. Hog factories strive to keep their sows "100 % active," as an article in Successful Farming explains, "Any sow that is not gestating, lactating or within seven days post weaning is non-active." When the sow is no longer deemed a productive breeder, she is sent to slaughter.

Pigs, like cattle, are strung upside down to be slaughtered. Prior to this they are stunned, however, again, like with cattle, it is not always effective. Workers then will try and stick the still living pigs with a knife to the throat. If that is unsuccessful, the pigs are moved to the next station on the assembly line and boiled alive. A worker comments on the procedure: "If the hog is conscious, ... it takes a long time for him to bleed out. These hogs get up to the scalding tank, hit the water, and start kicking and screaming ... There's a rotating arm that pushes them under. No chance for them to get out. I am not sure if they burn to death before they drown, but it takes them a couple of minutes to stop thrashing.


These are only a couple aspects of the evils of factory farming and in the big picture, the evil of eating animals. The farming of poultry, fish and veal also have frightening, depressing aspects, comparable to the treatment of cattle and pigs. The harvesting of eggs and dairy, as well, is done through inhumane processes that leave the animals sick and sometimes even kills them.

What you do from here is your choice. A vegetarian (or preferable vegan) diet is the best solution along with abstinence from animal products. This is obviously a sad situation that has been promoted by the American meat industry and furthered by an ignorant or non-caring American public. The tools to beat this are in your control.

Editor's Note: IMPACT press would like to thank Gail Eisnitz, of the Humane Farming Association, and the Farm Sanctuary for their assistance and permission to reprint facts and quotes used in this article. Please check out these organizations and support them.

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