Those of you who have been with us from the beginning know that we are not the militant vegetarians so many meat eaters criticize. We understand that different people like different things and that meat is a huge part of many diets. That’s fine! We make choices that work for us and don’t expect others to live outside of their own choices. We do, however, respect all life and believe that living, feeling, thinking creatures should be treated as such. A cow is not a plant and a pig is not a window, they feel differently, experience fear, and communicate with their own species. We should treat them with at least some level of respect. We’re not saying let the herd sleep in the house. We just think that all the members of the herd should be allowed live without fear and that if you must kill them, you could do it in a humane way.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares our views. We admit to being empathetic to the feelings of others, both human and non-human, so when we saw an article saying that an investigation by Mercy for Animals led to a felony animal cruelty conviction, we were excited. Then, when we saw the sentence was only 30 days in jail and 42 months of probation, we felt it was a little light. Of course MFA did a great job investigating and the fact that people can finally be held responsible for the harm they cause is fantastic news, we just felt the offender in that case didn’t get much of a punishment.

From a societal standpoint, kicking, beating, tearing off limbs and other atrocities have been considered acceptable actions toward animals in industrial farming situations. That’s why MFA can do such in-depth investigations, because these things happen on a regular basis. But times they are a changin’ and we couldn’t be more pleased. This felony conviction set the precedent that we are accountable for what we do to our “food” animals, even in an industrial farming environment.  We are, well, some of us are, becoming a more educated society. Through education we develop understanding and empathy for those around us, and this conviction shows our evolution at the legal level. Perhaps future convictions will carry heavier sentences and truly dissuade farm workers from mistreating the animals under their care.

Unfortunately, obstinance allows people to refuse any education that might make them appear somehow “wrong” in retrospect. We’ve learned that slavery, refusing to educate women, putting prisoners into stockades, and countless other positions are wrong throughout our growth into human society. We have even put limits on the cruelty we can inflict upon animals during experimentation. Yet there are always people who stick with a failing argument just for the sake of sticking with it, so we have to expect that level of blind grasping on this brand of atrocity, as well.

In general, we know that those of us who care about other living beings are still a minority, but we are growing. This felony conviction is the first of what we hope will be many animal cruelty convictions of industrial farm workers. The bigger issue, as MFA pointed out, is the industry itself. Family farms may view their livestock as food, but the cows are milked every day, chickens are fed and allowed to run around in the sun, and all the animals are treated as an investment until slaughter. At the very least, we should be able to hold industrial farms to the same standards. This will be a long road, but if all of us, meat eating and vegetarian alike, make an effort to support cruelty-free sources and get the word out that we will not abide torture of any living things, perhaps we can make this climb to a less abusive society together.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.