In Memory of the Billions of Animals Killed

September is World Animal Remembrance Month, a time to honor and reflect on the animals who are no longer with us. Thinking of the atrocities that are inflicted on the billions of animals killed for food each year is sad, but it’s important to take a moment to reflect on their plight so that we can make a difference for them. This month we’re honoring the pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, and fish who suffer needlessly every year for meat, dairy and eggs.

PIGS: Pigs are highly-intelligent animals who are often compared to dogs. In the meat industry pigs are typically warehoused in industrial farms where they’ll never see sunlight or breathe fresh air until the day they’re shipped off to slaughter. Female pigs are kept in tiny metal crates called farrowing crates and gestation crates. These enclosures are so small that the animals can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably. They live in complete misery – all so the meat industry can profit off of their flesh, which is sold as bacon, sausage, or pork. If dogs were kept this way, their owners would likely be charged with animal cruelty.

COWS USED FOR MEAT: Cows raised for meat typically endure painful mutilations, which are done without anesthetics. Farmers punch holes in their ears, brand them with hot irons and castrate them. Once they reach market weight, cows are shipped in cramped transport trucks without food or water in all weather extremes. At the slaughterhouse, workers shoot the terrified animals with a bolt gun in an attempt to stun them and then slit their throats.

COWS USED FOR DAIRY: Many people don’t realize that consuming dairy supports a lifetime of suffering, and also death, for cows. In order to produce milk, a cow must become pregnant and give birth. In the dairy industry, farmers repeatedly artificially inseminate cows and then take the baby from the mother once she’s given birth. This causes extreme distress for both mother and calf, and the cruel cycle is repeated over and over again until the cow’s milk production declines at around 4 or 5 years old. Then, the cow is considered useless to the industry and, like cows used for meat, she’s shipped off to slaughter.

FISH: Science has proven that fish can feel pain and other feelings in the same capacity that other animals can. Despite this, fish have no legal protections when it comes to how they’re kept or killed. Whether they’re raised in industrial fish farms or caught in the wild, fish suffer painful and horrifying deaths. They suffocate, are bashed in the head, or are stabbed. All of these methods often cause the fish prolonged suffering before they die.

CHICKENS USED FOR MEAT: Chickens are arguably the most abused land animals on the planet; and more chickens are raised and killed for food than all pigs, cows, and lambs combined. In the meat industry, chickens live in filthy sheds with tens of thousands of other birds. They’re typically bred to grow so large so fast, that their legs and organs can’t keep up. Heart attacks, organ failure, and crippling leg deformities are common. At the slaughterhouse, chickens are supposed to be stunned, but due to the fast nature of the slaughter line, many of them are still conscious when their throats are slit and some are scalded alive in defeathering tanks.

CHICKENS USED FOR EGGS: Birds born into the egg industry suffer for their entire lives. Male chicks are considered useless since they can’t lay eggs, so they’re ground up alive or thrown into trash bags to suffocate shortly after birth. Egg-laying hens are kept in such crowded conditions that they can’t even spread their wings or do anything that comes naturally to them. Even eggs labeled “cage-free” came from hens who likely suffered miserable lives inside dark, cramped sheds.

TURKEYS: In the animal agriculture industry, turkeys are treated in a similarly horrific fashion as chickens. Nearly 300 million turkeys are slaughtered in the United States each year – with over 50 million killed just for Thanksgiving. These sensitive and curious animals are just babies when they’re killed — only 4 to 6 weeks old. The final hours of their lives are full of unspeakable cruelty, with more than a million of them dying during crating and transport.

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World Animal Remembrance Month is a time to honor all animals who have died. If you care about your beloved dogs or cats, please remember that when it comes to suffering, pigs, cows, chickens, and fish are no different. All animals want to live happy lives, and none of them wanted to die for someone’s meal. We all have the power to save animals simply by refusing to eat their flesh, milk, or eggs. Share this post to spread the word and honor the lives lost to the animal agriculture industry.

Learn more about switching to a plant-based diet.