rationalisation not so rational

Cultural Artefact
The above video was provided by the animal welfare group Animals Australia
with intentions to expose and raise awareness of the treatment towards animals
in factory farms. The video presents the short life cycle of pigs, just one of the
animals subjected to factory farming. It reveals the sufferable short life that
animals are forced to endure before ending up on our plates.
Literature Review
The reliance on factory farming has posed a great threat to public and
environmental health. This is so through contributing to the spread of infections
diseases, antibiotic resistant infections, the prevalence of chronic disease and the
vast resources used through the mass production of meat (Henning, 2011).
Factory farming is also the number one contributor of animal violence and
abuse, forcing animals to live in overcrowded confinements where they are
force-fed drugs, over-heated, left without water and then prematurely killed
(PETA, 2013). Factory farming has sparked much discussion over the welfare of
animals in the last year. The fight for animal welfare standards however is not
relatively new with animal welfare actions dating back to as early as 1958 with
when the United States Humane Methods of Slaughter Act was passed (Animal
Welfare Institute, 2008). Over time Australia has developed extensive welfare
standards and guidelines covering the vast range of animals used in the industry
(Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines, 2013). These guidelines
do advocate animal welfare however they do not eradicate all suffering imposed
that naturally comes with factory farming. Currently in Australia, and also New
Zealand there is strong legislation and consultation procedures that strive to
regulate and improve the welfare of all animals however this is significantly
lacking in other countries (Rahman, Ricketts & Walker, 2005). Religious and
culturally rich developing countries are known to carry out abusive methods
(Rahman, Ricketts & Walker, 2005). Animals are often transported in
overcrowded trucks or on foot for hundreds of miles to the abattoirs, where
they often have limited access to food, water and are repeatedly beaten
(Ramasway, 1987).
Recognition of the ethical issues surrounding factory farming has sparked major
controversy and ethical debates as to how the animal industry should proceed.
Famous philosopher Peter Singer argues that humans should extend to other
species the equality that we recognize should be extended to all members of our
own species (Regan & Singer 1989). Similarly Tom Regan postulates that
animals have rights, which are valid moral claims that must always be respected,
overriding any collective interests (Cohen & Regan , 2001). In awarding animals
rights, human benefits reaped from consuming or using animal products is
considered wrong. Regan believes that all animal experimentation, the fur
industry and commercial farming therefore should be eradicated. On the
contrary Carl Cohen argues that animals do not have rights and agrees that
animal medical experimentation is fully justified. This brings us back to the
theory of Speciesm, which is a “prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of
one’s own species and against those of members of other species” (Singer, 1989).
In particularly it argues that being human is enough reason for human animals to
have greater moral rights than non-human animals (BBC, 2013). This allocation
of rights to animals is a limitation in itself, as people who do not award rights to
animals are not largely influenced to advocate change and cease the
consumption of animal products.
Factory farming is an example of Rizer’s Mcdonaldisation (Ritzer, 1993). Where
principles of the fast food industry; efficiency, calculability, predictability and
control, have been applied to create a more rationalized process (Ritzer, 1993).
However this rationalization is not so rationale after all given the immense
amount of pain and suffering caused to animals, the increased environmental
hazards and the detrimental affects to human health (Henning, 2011). New
agrarian movements may help to overcome this factor. It incorporates many
strategies but mainly involves returning to more “natural” methods of
producing food and raising animals, such as local, organic and free-range
animal produce. The eradication of CAFOs in theory would do wonders to the
environment, the human population and the earth. By living off agrarian
methods, factory farms would be eradicated, reducing the spread of treatment
resistant infections due to no longer needing preventative antibiotics.
Additionally it would reduce the risk of infectious livestock diseases being
spread to humans with removal of farms so close to urban areas. Interestingly
meat prices would increase drastically hopefully reducing meat consumption
and lowering health conditions associated with meat consumption (Henning,
2011). Most importantly, whilst these methods are largely favoured for their
contribution to human life, regardless of intentions it would still improve the
lives of many animals (Henning, 2011).
Regardless of which method or ethical discussion one believes, there is no
denying that the meat industry is currently contributing to major health
problems, significantly damaging the environment, and imposing extensive pain
and unnecessary suffering to billions of animals.
Cultural and Social Analysis
Many meat eaters will claim that their food choices are a personal choice. Yet is
this really a declaration of a free agent or merely one acting in a manner dictated
by social structure? Strangely we do not award rights to animals used for food or
fashion but are willing to accept a moral obligation towards domestic animals.
Why is this so? There are many social constructions that help to sustain the
justification of meat eating and the meat industry itself.
History and culture is a major factor, particularly in Australia. Eating meat has
been identified as having a major role in the evolution of early humans (Teaford
& Ungar, 2002. The first European settlers brought six head of cattle with them
in 1788 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2005). They held very high regards for
meat and were responsible for the development of Australia agriculture. This
cattle industry grew and today is one of Australia’s major agricultural industries
contributing to GDP (ABS, 2013). It is the strength of the cattle industry and
these cultural and historical influences that have assisted in developing powerful
social and cultural connotations that still stand today. The Pound of Flesh Survey
in 2010 found that 99% of Australians were against cruelty to animals, yet 98%
eat animals that come from cruel, intensive farming practices (Vegetarian
Victoria, 2010). These statistics are a clear illustration of how our views and
practices do not align. The invisibility of the meat industry allows this to happen
as we are rarely forced to question the processes that go on behind farm doors.
In addition to philosophers such as Tom Regan and Peter Singer, other strong
advocates for the welfare of live stock animals include groups such as People For
the Ethical Treatment of Animals (also known as PETA) and Animals Australia.
In addition to factory farming being unethical and immoral, it is also not a
sustainable, environmentally friendly or healthy industry. The overconsumption
of meat and animal products is now a leading cause of obesity, as well as
contributing to hypertension, heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, stroke and
food-borne illnesses (Henning, 2011). Additional approximately one third of the
earths land surface has already been cleared to accommodate for farming and is
only going to increase (Henning, 2011). Furthermore the greenhouse gas
emissions contribute to up to a third of all green house gases outweighing those
produced by power generation and transportation (Henning, 2011).
In light of this information public health experts should perhaps review and
promote nutritional guidelines and recommendations in regards to the
recommended portions and servings of meat, as well as education surrounding
how to include more meat free days in ones diet. If consumers were to comply
with reviewed recommendations in an attempt to improve their health, demand
for the product would go down and the need for factory farming should
decrease. This approach would be insignificant without the continued advocacy
of animal welfare groups, and improving laws and regulations globally.
Analysis of the artefact and learning reflections.
The artefact is a clear example of the systematic murder we have become so
desensitized to. The worker has become so normalized to the process that he
doesn’t even flinch when inflicting pain on the piglet. As a result of this
assessment piece I have learnt that our meat industry, factory farming in
particularly is highly unnecessary and actually detrimental to our health. As a
result of my learning I have definitely reconsidered my consumption patterns
and the affects that they have on animals.
Animal Welfare Institute. (2008). Crimes Without Consequences: The
Enforcement of Humane Slaughter Laws in the United States. Retrieved from
Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. (2013). Australian Animal
Welfare Standards and Guidelines. Retrieved from
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2005). Year Book Australia, 2005. Retrieved
BBC, (2013). The Ethics of Speciesism. Retrieved from
Cohen, C. & Regan, T. (2001). The Animal Rights Debate (Book Review); Journal
of Value Inquiry, 36(4), 579-583
Henning, B. (2011). Standing in Livestock’s ‘Long Shadow’, the ethics of eating
meat on a small planet: Ethics and the Environment, 16(1), 63-94
PETA. (2013). Factory Farming: Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved from
Rahman, S., Ricketts, W., & Walker, L. (2005). Global perspectives on animal
welfare: Asia, the Far East, and Oceania. Rev Sci Tech, 24(2), 597-612
Ramaswamy, N. (1987). – Report of the expert committee on the development of the
meat industry (animal products). Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation, New
Regan, T. & Singer, P. (1989). All Animals Are Equal: Animal Rights and Human
Obligations, 148-162
Ritzer, G. (1993). The McDonaldization of Society. Sage Publications
Teaford, M. & Ungar, P. (2002). Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution. Westport,
CT: Greenwood Press
Vegetarian Victoria. (2010). Statistics on Vegetarianism. Retrieved from