Towards an America without slaughter – Boulder Weekly

I remember my first harvest of chickens, as it was euphemistically called. It was in 1999 and I was 12 years old. In a video from the event, you can see me in my denim work jacket, hugging my neck in vicarious horror. There was a performative aspect to my reaction. But despite this, the massacre was the first real example of violence I have ever seen, as far as I can remember.

And it was horrible. Without a doubt, I had witnessed fights in the schoolyard, but nothing like it. Nothing that resulted in a bucket of severed heads of living individuals blinking in their seeming dying moments of consciousness. When it was over, I remember laying in the grass with my friends, publicly promising to become a vegetarian. This oath, of course, lasted a few days at most.

I think a lot of people recognize that there is something wrong with our treatment of animals. What they may not be aware of is emerging technology that will make it easier to align our values ​​and actions. I’m talking about cultured meat, which is grown from cells, without slaughter. It’s better for the environment, public health and, of course, animal welfare.

It might sound like science fiction, but it isn’t. Cultured meat has already obtained regulatory approval in Singapore and is even available for home delivery. Meanwhile, an Israeli company has cut production costs of a quarter pound of farmed chicken to less than $ 4.

The environmental benefits of this new protein are multiple. Land, fresh water and the greenhouse gas emissions needed to produce it are a tiny fraction of what is needed to keep animals. During this time, there is no runoff of agricultural waste into rivers and oceans, since the cultivated meat is produced in a closed system.

The public health benefits of cultured meat are very significant. It doesn’t require artificial growth hormones and unnecessary antibiotics. Since the animals are removed from the process, the danger of zoonotic viruses making the jump to humans is eliminated.

The animal welfare benefits offered by cultured meat should be obvious. We kill over a trillion aquatic and terrestrial animals each year to feed us. The amount of suffering this represents is impossible to understand. To put it in perspective, only about 107 billion humans have ever lived, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

By my third harvest, in 2001, I was completely immune to violence. Along with a girl I briefly dated, I wrestled a turkey in a large bucket with a small slit, just big enough for its neck to stick out. I pinned the crooked body of the animals to the ground after its head was cut off with an ax, until the poor creature bleed.

From there, we brought the carcass through the methodical process of boiling, plucking, evisceration and cleaning. Somewhere there is a picture of me smiling, holding the corpse upside down, waving to the camera with a bloody gloved hand. While most people don’t participate in slaughter, I think many experience desensitization similar to animal suffering.

I think we learn the justifications for non-human exploitation in spurts. This education – or more precisely, bad education – probably takes place throughout our lifetimes, with different responses formulated to meet our ideological needs at different times and places. There is nothing particularly bad about the process. Human violence against animals is as it always has been.

I want to live in a world where this self-delusion doesn’t seem necessary. I don’t think our food system needs to accelerate global warming, increase our risk of a pandemic, or be so cruel. Cultured meat can help solve all of these problems without noticeable dietary changes.

This is why I want the federal government to fund open access research on cellular agriculture. Despite great progress in the private sector, much remains to be done to achieve price parity with slaughtered meat and develop whole products, such as steaks and fillets. I hope lawmakers will support this effort.

Jon Hochschartner is the author of a number of books, including TThe Animal Freedom Fighter: A Biography of Ronnie Lee, Founder of the Animal Liberation Front. He lives in Connecticut with his family, where he enjoys watching Knicks speedruns and “Ocarina of Time”.

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

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