My response to the MFA “Digiorno” Video

If you have not seen the video yet, I recommend you do.  It is hard to watch.  However, whether you are an omnivore or a full on vegan, we need to witness the brutality of what goes on behind closed doors in our food’s production process.

A worker kicks a cow.
A worker kicks a cow.

I am a huge believer that a free market economy can only thrive on an educated population – watching this video is part of that education. People need to vote with their wallets.

Primarily, my opinion is that we as humans know this is wrong.  There is no sugar coating it.  While these animals are alive and in our custody, we owe them the respect and dignity of any living being, regardless of species.  It needs to be fixed on a systemic level.

It does not matter what excuses we try to bring to bear – “The employees get away with it when the bosses aren’t looking,”  Or “It’s hard finding good help.”  At the end of the day, this is abuse and sociopathic behavior.  I am fascinated (read: frightened) by people that can act like this by day, and snuggle their kids in bed by night.

The blogger “Dairy Carrie” posted a response piece.  In it, she recognizes “some” of the video as abuse, but it seems like a token confession.  The rest of the video, she discredits by addressing the languages spoken by people and what part of the cows’ bodies are bleeding.  She is, afterall a dairy farmer and industry advocate.  So I take her response with a grain of salt.

But it is her closing line that really motivated me to write this blog post today.  It is a simple one liner :

“Nobody should profit off of animal cruelty.”

Her angle on this is against Mercy For Animals.  And I agree.  Our goal in our society should be that no organizations like MFA, PETA, Humane Society of the US, Defenders of Wildlife,  or any animal group should exist.  But that is because they shouldn’t have to.   We, as a nation should have higher standards of care for the animals in our domain.  If nothing out of line is happening, then there should be nothing to hide.  Videos like these would be the most boring thing to watch, as the camera pans around a clean barn full of healthy cows being treated with respect and dignity.

But, apparently that can’t happen.  The price pressures within the dairy industry require that corners be cut, and sacrifices be made.  Sadly, it appears the livestock are bearing the brunt of those sacrifices.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 12.04.03 PM
We must apparently trade morality for profitability.

And therein lies the ultimate irony in her closing statement.  The dairy industry is actually profiting from animal cruelty.  By using the excuse that care and responsibility cannot be exercised due to cost, they are justifying and even making money off the misery these animals endure.

We know that the world will not be vegan tomorrow, next year, or even in the next hundred years.  In the meantime, we need to pressure farmers, corporations, and people to focus on greater animal welfare and humane treatment.  Initiatives like Certified Humane are a step in the right direction, but again it is unbelieveable we even have to have programs like these.

In a more humane world, we would not need groups like MFA to police the behaviors of corporations.  In a more humane world, we would not need animal rights groups at all.

Let’s make that our ultimate goal.

9 thoughts on “My response to the MFA “Digiorno” Video”

  1. Well written stuff. I do think the dairy industry is inherently exploitative though. No amount of regulation will prevent abuse to animals.

    Forced artificial insemination, calf separation and connections to the beef/veal industry will always be a part of the system.

    All this just for milk and dairy products? How selfish are we? It’s disgusting, and the worst part is that It’s not necessary nor even good for us.

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    1. Also well written 🙂

      It is an odd state of affairs, really. We do NOT need it (as you mentioned) as we are the only species that drinks the milk of other mammals , and we do so even after the toddler years. Thanks for stopping by the blog.

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  2. Extremely well written post.

    Personally, I think it is more beneficial to focus on society reducing consumption and going vegan rather than pressure the industry to increase welfare standards. As you probably wouldn’t disagree- abuse is inherent in exploitative practices. The dairy industry for instance, even if the animals are treated with utmost “humane” care, they are still being objectified for their reproductive organs, still being forcefully impregnated, still having their children taken, males calves are still slaughtered, still having their breasts strapped to machine 3 times a day……..etc… So long as the industry exists, the animals are being reduced to machines. Also..humane labels rarely require trustworthy verification, and rarely require the treatment that you or I would deem worthy of the term “humane.” And arguable, humane labels may actually be a step in the wrong direction, as people then continue to feel comfortable about consuming the products rather than reducing their consumption. That’s my opinion, anyway:)

    Documentation like this is a prime opportunity to promote veganism!

    Here’s a great site too: http://www.humanemyth.org

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    1. Awesome and valid points. I am stuck in the middle of a conundrum though, and I have not sorted it out yet. I wish, 100% everyone would just be vegan already. But I am also a realist and I have to come to terms with the fact that could possibly never happen. So knowing that, how can we minimize both consumption AND the impact on animals?

      I guess in a simpler way – We are always going to exploit animals (unfortunately) so how do we make that whole process better?

      Personally we need to praise/support the companies that are actually going above and beyond for even making the attempt, as lame as that sounds.

      I don’t know…like I said, I need to sort this all out.

      But thanks for writing a comment and taking part in the conversation!

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      1. I totally see where you’re coming from Scott. But not too long ago (relative to the span of human history), we thought the same thing about slavery. Slaves essentially WERE the backbone of society, no one could ever think of how a society could possible function without it.

        Whenever ideas were brought up that opposed slavery, people scoffed and claimed that slavery was essential, natural and completely required for the rest of society to survive. In fact, even well respected Christian (and other religions too I’m sure) openly wrote about the unfortunate practice of slavery; but inevitably agreed that it was ‘necessary’.

        Obviously we think differently now. I too consider myself a realist – but the reality is that society has made far larger changes in pursuit of morality in the past. Giving up dairy products? That’s a baby step.. 😉

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        1. I of course also agree with your points exactly. The only difference is that people eat animals and their milk. I have found, as a vegan (especially with AR roots) that people have some really weird and powerful convictions surrounding food. It is more of a person’s being than slavery. Slavery was external.

          Obviously I am splitting hairs here, but the argument is the same. We did justify slavery, even though it was morally objectionable, much like how people justify many things today.

          While I really hope you are right – and we could move to a fully vegan world – I think the reality is somewhere in the middle.

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      2. HI Scott,
        I was going to bring up the slavery comparison, but just saw someone already did! Speaking from personal experience, I know that I went through this exact same conundrum, and I know a lot of people do. Then people come out of the conundrum on both ends of the spectrum.

        The way I see it..in a very brief nutshell.. 3 people going vegan will be a lot better for more animals then 3 people choosing “humane” meat. Those 3 vegans can continue to convince others to go vegan…or those 3 “humanitarians” can convince others to go humane..which will ultimately benefit animals more? People love to eat animal products, and they’ll take any excuse they can to continue to do so! My explanation is extremely more complex than this..but it’s all I have time to write!

        This is topics we all have to confront as vegans… to choose to fight for animal liberation, or to choose to fight for bigger cages. Personally, I choose the former:) Good luck on your path to figuring out your side of the issue!

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  3. I personally think that we still eat and treat animals this way because we don’t understand their language or try to. Could you imagine if the cows were speaking English and saying, “I’m in so much pain, please help me.” or “Why are you kicking me, why are you hurting me?” or “Please, please, give me my baby back. She needs me!” Here’s an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson where he discusses our pathetic inability to communicate and empathizes with animals. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsjgM_GME-Y

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    1. Thanks so much for joining the conversation Jennifer, and for sharing that video. NDT is on my bucket list of “people to have a beer with.”

      I found his comparison with us “eating the ribs of each other” interesting…but even more concerning. We don’t obviously eat animals out of necessity (save perhaps for some extreme examples of human settlement and culture i.e. Northern Alaska/Canada, areas in Africa, etc).

      We eat them out of want and a refusal to depart from tradition. IMO that makes us so much worse.

      I also liked his points on how we must devalue animals to accommodate our conscience. I have seen this many times in my vegan/animal rights discussions. So many people say “It’s just a chicken.” If we give them the recognition they deserve, we then must also accommodate their higher being – and that is uncomfortable.

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