a self-guided journey for your tastebuds
& your morality
authored by michael digiacomo
for taco bell
the collective problematic fave
so... you're probably hungry,
or you're thinking about food,
or you just ate and will eat again in a little bit. we can work with that.
what sounds good?
a. something meaty...............................flip the page
b. something fresh.................................flip to page 7
c. something vegan...............................flip to page 10
...or, have a three course meal and READ IT ALL!
you ordered a pulled pork bbq sandwich. i hope you got some cole slaw as well.
with worldwide demand for meat increasing annually, you can't go wrong with such a loved dish.
or can you?
annually, around 6 million pigs are kept for breeding in the united states.
most of these pigs are confined to uncomfortable gestation crates that they can barely fit into. at the age of 7 months, sows enter a lifelong process of repeated pregnancies until they it is time for a visit to the slaughterhouse. everything about this environment is wrong for our pig friends - often times, these crates are small enough so that a pig can only stand up and lie down. additionally, pig waste is typically collected directly beneath these holding pens, creating sometimes severe health complications for their occupants.
there are no federal laws protecting pigs, along with any other animal, from mistreatment on such industrialized farms. as a result, the livestock industry is responsible for 20% of the total emissions of greenhouse gases. but this is not where the trouble stops.
not only are pigs and the environment exploited in creating this bbq sandwich, but workers and communities surrounding factory-style farms are as well. for example, slaughterhouse employees have been reported to experience respiratory issues and ptsd, among other issues, because of their work environment that is filled with toxic fumes, exhausting and intensive labor, and brutal maltreatment of animals. those that work in such environments are typically there because of few other limited options, thus exploiting an already vulnerable population of workers including undocumented individuals, immigrants, non-English speakers, etc.
all of these pigs have to use the bathroom - and they do. because there is minimal legislation surrounding the practices of industrial-scale livestock production farms, this waste is often times pumped into large, man-made lakes that essentially become large shit ponds. many are the size of football fields, and some farms have multiple of these.
obviously, this has the potential to seep into the water supply. in the past, ruptures have occurred, allowing highly concentrated pig waste to seep into surrounding rivers. farmers fill these ponds sometimes via spraying from above, and if you live a few hundred feet away from such a farm - as many do in states like north carolina - you experience a literal rainstorm of blood and shit.
if you want more food, flip the page. otherwise, see page 11.
you ordered a caesar salad. a classic!
a vegetarian dish may appear to be more humane, lacking meat. let's explore that further.
traditional caesar salad dressing typically includes at least one egg yolk.
unfortunately, chickens bred for egg production are one of the most abused farm animals.
on industrial-scale farms, chickens are often kept in incredibly cramped spaces. to prevent hens from pecking at each other out of stress, the tips of their beaks are cut off. male chicks are usually killed at birth because they'll be unable to contribute to egg production.
another ingredient common in caesar salads is parmesan cheese. made using cow's milk, production of this cheese often results in cows living their lives attached to milking machinery, causing significant damage to their udders. as part of this process, industrial-scale farms often pump their cows up with growth hormones to increase milk production. when consumed by humans, these hormones present in the cow's milk can cause several different kinds of cancer. despite this reality, dairy producers are not required by law to list the hormones they give to their livestock on the products that they sell. there is no requirement that consumers be told they may be consuming known carcinogens.
if you want more food, flip the page. if not (maybe you're full by this point), see page 11.
you ordered some vegetable pad thai.
without any animal products at all - this is the only cruelty-free dish being served today! by purchasing and eating this dish, you have not contributed to factory farming in a direct way. build on this choice & see where your advocacy for ethical food can take you!
as much of the livestock and dairy production in the united states is unregulated, resulting in severe animal abuse, adverse human health outcomes, and the exploitation of workers, communities, and the natural environment. these practices are highly unsustainable, and a way to not contribute to such a system is to cut animal products out of one's diet entirely. by doing so, an individual is not actively contributing to the slaughtering of animals after considerable suffering or to big business trumping human rights and dignity.
on an individual scale, these efforts may not seem to lead to any tangible change. however, a collective movement towards sustainable food growing and consumption practices can lead to a decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted, the number of animals killed and severely mistreated, exploitation of workers and communities, and seepage of toxic waste into the ground and water sources.
throughout this journey we have taken a brief look at the sinister factory farming industry, which essentially industrializes meat and dairy production processes to maximize outputs in response to an increasingly large demand for animal products. this industrialization process has come with numerous costs on several levels -- animal/human, community, environmental, and policy -- and formal legislation protecting animals and individuals from such abuse and exploitation appears to be entirely nonexistent in the u.s.
factory farming can be fought against, though, and that does not always mean cutting animal products out of your diet. yes, that is definitely helpful -- but you can also help, if able, by being selective about the animal products you do buy and seek to purchase from ethical, local sources rather than the alternative. we can also connect with grassroots organizations advocate on behalf of legislation that would protect workers from exploitation on factory farms or impose emissions regulations on factory farm operators. this is a large-scale issue that requires collective action to make the necessary societal shift in how we approach growing and consuming food.
the following websites provide opportunities for engagement: farmforward.org, farmsanctuary.org, mercyforanimals.org
while we all have a responsibility in protecting our environment and our fellow humans - it is not one's place to dictate or judge the food choices of another. the way food is approached is heavily value-laden and culture-specific. therefore, imposing judgment on people's food choices can be classist. it might be easy to blame people for not buying fresher foods and instead buying fast food, but fast food is more cost-effective for low-income individuals, who additionally may not have the appropriate resources for storing or preparing certain foods. getting to the grocery store is a challenge for some, especially if transportation is lacking. often times the only remaining option to obtain food is convenience stores which boast sugar drinks, candy, and snacks. that being said, these items are cheap and therefore more appealing to individuals with less money. while food pantries and hunger-focused service organizations can certainly help with food security issues, the real solution to problems regarding access to healthier foods as well as environmental and human-animal exploitation in food production is through legislative advocacy. policy can make the difference in combating these seemingly insurmountable scenarios.
*A WORD ON RESPECT.