Bacon And Eggs
Pigs and egg-laying hens suffer for our breakfast of bacon and eggs. Pigs live in agony for months and then die for the bacon. Egg-laying hens live in misery for a bit longer, and then die for the eggs.
So, because of this suffering, a bacon-and-egg breakfast is not the ultimate feel-good breakfast we think.
However, for many of us bacon and eggs are synonymous with an early morning treat. As a result we have it when we go out with friends or cook it for someone who sleeps late.
Bacon and eggs go together like, well, pigs and hens. And these beings, one dead and the other on death row, are exactly why this breakfast is, in truth, bite-by-bite cruelty.
No crispness of bacon or poaching of eggs can hide the suffering that brought you this meal.
What happens to the pigs and egg-laying hens that causes to much suffering?
For us to eat bacon, pigs have to suffer and die. And to have eggs – poached, sunny side up, doesn’t matter how – egg-laying hens have to suffer a bit longer and then die.
But why does this happen? These animals are like us. Like us, they are sentient. To clarify, they too have the same emotions and expression thereof.
And this is why we should refer to them as people: to who and whom, not it and what.
So, if we consider that pigs and egg-laying have the same feelings as us, their suffering is blatantly inhumane.
Why else should we call these animals human?
Let us look at them. Both pigs and hens are clever and social. They love their family and friends.
The fun-loving pigs can play video games with their snout. Hens have distinct personalities, are inquisitive and good at problem solving.
In short, pigs and hens have human-like qualities. Because of that, they don’t belong on anybody’s breakfast plate.
Why then do pigs love mud?
Because pigs can’t sweat, they must do something to regulate their body temperature. Mud is cool and helps to bring down their body temperature. And that is why they wallow in mud.
So, pigs are not covered in mud because they are dirty animals. In their essense theiy are clean.
And that means they are clever, aren’t they?
They are intelligent.
Hens are so clever that they worry about the future, have self-control and communicate well. And pigs can reason better than your dog or a three year old.
Hens protect their chickens. Pregnant pigs walk far to find the ideal place where they can build a nest for their young.
And what do we do to them for our bacon-and-eggs breakfast?
We humans use everything in our considerable power, all that is mean and brutal, to make the animals live in agony and then die in terror.
We confine them in cages that are so small that they can barely move.
Furthermore, we take away their dignity. We maltreat them for their very femininity — their ability to bear children.
In short, we take away their human-like qualities.
We should know about the agony of the pigs and egg-laying hens. Once we know where our food comes from, we can make an informed choice: do we really want to eat what they provided with their bodies?
But many of us don’t care. And many people don’t want to know what had to happen so we could get our bacon and eggs.
However, shouldn’t we at least know where our food comes from? And know too what had happened in the process of obtaining it?
Vegans usually know this. Consequently, it is easier for vegans to say no to animal products.
Because I am a vegan, I know this.
I have the image of a mother pig imprisoned in a steel cage. She is lying immobilised on her side on filthy cement. Because of this, her body a mass of painful sores.
In addition, in my mind’s eye I see her tiny pink piglets suckling through bars.
Their life has just begin. But from now on they will have an existence of agony.
In six months they will be on their way to the slaughter house. Their trip will be pure agony. And their death will be one of torture.
Similarly, I have the picture of rows upon rows of bedraggled, bewildered hens.
The hens are imprisoned in small wire cages. Because of this, they can’t stretch a wing. Furthermore their beaks are cut off. and the skin shows through their feathers. Their bones are fragile and broken; their feet are crippled.
Moreover, soon the hens too will be on their way to a pitiless slaughterhouse.
I have seen undercover videos and documentaries such as Earthlings, Dominion and H.O.P.E. – What you eat matters.
Because of this, I find it easy not to eat bacon and eggs.
Like many others, watching the documentaries took me a few sittings. I cried and ranted.
And I wondered, how can we be so cruel to animals?
I am still unable to understand how humans can be so cruel to animals. Furthermore, it also makes me wonder: is humanity a failed project?
We are all part of humanity. Because of this, how can we knowingly be part of the sadistic system that delivers meat and other animal products to greedy consumers?
If you knew too, you might not crack open another egg. Crack another joke about bacon. And you might not have another bite of your bacon and eggs.
The animals that provide a breakfast of bacon and eggs live on huge factory or industrial farms. And on these farms the bottom line is profit. Consequently, it leaves no time or inclination for compassion.
On these farms the more piglets as many sows can have as often as possible, the quicker the more piglets can be fattened up and killed. Then more pig meat can be sold as quickly as possible to meat-eaters.
The more hens that can be crammed together can lay more eggs. And the more eggs can be collected and sold to egg-users.
Because these animals are on a merciless treadmill, they are considered as merely machines. Therefore they only exist to deliver goods to satisfy the ever-increasing, gluttonous demand.
As a result sentient beings beings are reduced to objects. Certainly, there is no care or thought about their sensitivity and intelligence.
As a result the living conditions of the animals matter only to them. These conditions do not matter to the humans who mistreat them.
Most importantly, the conditions don’t matter to those who enjoy their products of bacon and eggs.
Why do we not say we have pig meat for breakfast? Why do we call it bacon?
Because we are doing this, we de-humanise the pigs even further. We also speak of pork, and not pig meat.
The pig meat trade:
Globally 1,5 billion pigs had to die for meat in 2016, according to the United Nations. China kills the most pigs (715 374 588), followed by the USA (118 303 900). Denmark slaughters the most pigs per capita (resident) (3 213 751 889).
When they are barely six months old, sows are artificially inseminated.
The sows are pregnant for three months. And for most of this time the sows are imprisoned in gestation crates, lined up in overfull warehouses.
Furthermore, the gestation crates are barely wider than their bodies. Because they are immobilised, the sows develop pressure sores.
As a consequence of their living conditions, many pigs go insane. They constantly chew on their cage bars or repeat actions.
Gestation crates are so barbaric that they have been banned in the United Kingdom, Sweden and some American states.
The European Union banned gestation crates for all new farms. However, existing farms confine sows to the crates for the first 35 days after breeding.
Canada aims to phase out the use of the crates by 2024. The industry is, however, pushing to delay that until 2029.
On the other hand pig farms elsewhere in the world still use gestation crates.
The pig meat industry also uses farrowing crates for mothers and their babies.
Breeding farms for pigs stuff pig mothers into farrowing grates just before they deliver.
Farrowing crates are just as small as gestation crates. There is only an additional cement section from where the piglets can suckle through bars.
The sows stay in farrowing crates until the piglets are taken away after about ten days. In nature piglets suckle for up to four months.
Soon after their piglets are gone, the sows fall pregnant against their will again.
The sows are then again and again imprisoned inside the gestation crates.
This cycle continues for three or four years. And then their bodies are worn out and they go to slaughter.
What happens to the piglets?
The piglets grow up in overcrowded pens or barns for about four to six months. Then they are market weight and ready for slaughter.
Because of the overcrowding, diseases develop and spread. The farms then feed the piglets antibiotics and spray them with pesticides.
The antibiotics and pesticides remain in the piglets’ meat and pass on to people. Scientists believe that meat eaters’ consumption of drugs causes strains of bacteria that are resistant to treatment.
In their overcrowded surroundings many pigs resort to cannibalism and tail-biting. To prevent this, farmers chop off their tails and break off the ends of their teeth with pliers.
Furthermore, for identification purposes farmers cut chunks out of the piglets’ ears.
Farms also castrate some males. They do this because pig meat eaters believe intact males have a “boar taint”.
The United Kingdom and Ireland don’t practice castration. In the European Union the practice varies from country to country.
All this happens without painkillers.
See on PETA.org what happens at a breeding facility
When the piglets are about six months old and weigh about 130kg they go to slaughter.
How long do pig live in nature?
In their natural habitat, pigs live around ten to twelve years.
Farm workers use brutal electric prods to force the pigs into overcrowded transport trucks. The piglets travel to slaughter though extreme heat or cold. In some countries, such as Australia, it can take days. They don’t get food or water.
According to industry reports, more than one million pigs die on their way to slaughter each year in America and Canada.
A typical slaughterhouse kills about 1 000 pigs per hour. This makes humane and painless killing impossible. Workers use electric prods, kicks, blows and other torturous methods to propel the terrified animals along to their death.
The pigs are supposed to be stunned before slaughter. However, many are still conscious when they are dumped into tanks of water that is scalding hot to remove their hair and soften their skin.
Consequently, the sound of their screeching fills the air.
Each farmed pig produces about 4,5 kg of manure per day. As a result, many tons of waste end up in giant pits, polluting the air and groundwater. A single pig may require up to almost 20 litre of drinking water per day.
How big is the egg industry?
It is estimated that globally over 60% of eggs are produced on industrial farms.
In America there are more than 300 million egg-laying hens. The United Kingdom consumes over 30 million eggs per day.
Because of the unnaturally high egg production, the hens are of a special breed. Farm workers also manipulate hens’ reproductive system with light and food to cause extra laying cycles.
Hens on industrialised farms produce up to 300 eggs per year, far more than is natural. This causes health problems such as cysts, infections, cancer and osteoporosis.
On top of this, to save costs the hens receive no medical treatment.
Each battery cage contains up to ten birds.
What are barren battery cages?
Barren battery cages are wire cages in which up to ten hens are crammed together.
Rows of battery cages are stacked high in several tiers in warehouses. As a result, these warehouses can contain more than a hundred thousand birds. The warehouses usually have artificial lights and ventilators.
Globally most egg-laying hens live in barren battery cages.
PETA says this about barren battery cages: “Even in the best-case scenario, a hen spends her life crowded in a space about the size of a file drawer with several other hens, unable to lift a single wing.”
Because they live on top of each other, the hens are forced to urinate and defecate on one another. Dead birds are sometimes left to rot in the cages. The stench is unbearable. Ammonia stings their eyes.
Furthermore, the wire of the battery cages chafes their skin and cripples their feet.
The EU banned barren battery cages in 2012.
Enriched cages came into use when barren battery cages were banned. They provide only a little relief and extra space per bird.
Enriched cages are so cruel that Luxembourg banned them. Austria and Germany are phasing them out.
The European Food Safety Authority found that eggs from cages are more likely to be have salmonella contamination than those from cage-free systems.
In barn systems and on free range and organic egg farms, the hens have more space.
The UK produces 50% of all eggs on free-range farms, with 4% in barns and 3% in organic systems.
But these labels don’t indicate that the hens are treated humanely. According to a PETA investigation, “free range” hens had very little room to “range” inside jam-packed sheds. Some hens couldn’t reach food or water or get the outside.
Furthermore, even “free-range” or “organic” farms commonly mutilate chickens with de-beaking.
On top of it, these hens go to the same terrifying slaughterhouses than the other chickens from conventional farms.
What is de-beaking?
De-beaking is when a large part of a hen’s beak is cut off with a burning-hot blade within hours or days after birth. This happens without painkillers.
Because of this, birds are in pain both during and afterwards, and often can’t eat or drink for weeks.
Chicken farms do this because the overcrowded hens peck each other and they lose feathers.
Beak trimming with a blade became illegal in the United Kingdom in 2011. Using an infrared light is less painful.
But beak trimming is still legal in America.
The hens go to slaughter after about twelve to 18 months. Their bodies are then exhausted and their egg production drops.
But how long is a hen’s natural lifespan?
In nature chickens live for six or more years.
On their way to slaughter, the egg-laying hens have to endure overcrowding and extreme weather conditions. They get no food or water.
By that time about 30% of them are suffering from broken bones because of neglect, osteoporosis and rough treatment.
At the slaughterhouses they are hung in shackles, a machine slits their throats and they are plunged into scalding water to remove their feathers. Many remain conscious throughout. Some are gassed to death.
Their bodies are too bruised to be used for anything else than chicken soup or pet food.
Video: Chicken farms
Videos: Pig farms