Over 300 activists attending the 2018 Animal Liberation Conference in Berkeley participated in a funeral procession for farm animals in front of City Hall to remember the victims of animal agriculture and draw attention to the need for an animal rights amendment to the U.S. constitution.
During the funeral, which lasted approximately three hours, mourners marched through the streets of Berkeley with a deceased piglet named Chloe and then buried her in a public park in front in front City Hall. Participants also eulogized five rescued farm animals and spread their ashes under and their photos, which were displayed in the park.
Hundreds of animal rights activists participate in DxE’s funeral for victims of the animal agriculture industry.
The funeral was organized by the global animal rights group, Direct Action Everywhere, which hosted the Animal Liberation Conference.
Perhaps the only thing that the animal agriculture industry and animal rights activists can agree upon is the name of the device in which dairy cows are impregnated – the “rape rack.”
Female cows restrained in a device referred to as the “rape rack”
The “rape rack” is a narrow, chute-like device in which female cows are restrained while they undergo a process the dairy industry euphemistically refers to as “artificial insemination.” During artificial insemination (AI), a dairy worker inserts one of his arms into the rectum of a restrained cow and, with his other arm, inserts a rod-like device called an Al gun into her vagina. The Al gun, which contains bull semen, is pushed in further until it reaches the cervix (the entrance to the uterus). The semen is then injected into the uterus.
A diagram illustrates how to artificially inseminate a female cow.
Many supporters of animal rights argue that forcibly impregnating cows constitutes sexual abuse. “As public awareness of its barbaric practices increases, the dairy industry is desperate to whitewash them,” said Kathy Stevens, the Executive Director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary. “They can call this practice ‘artificial insemination’ if they wish, but impregnation against one’s will using forcible restraint pretty much sounds like rape to me.”
In order to produce milk, cows and other animals used for dairy production must be impregnated each year because their milk production stops at around the time their calves would naturally stop nursing.
To maximize the amount of milk available for human consumption, babies are typically taken away from their mothers within 24 hours of birth, causing profound distress to both the mother and her newborn. Mother cows bellow and call to their babies for days following the separation. Some of the babies are sent directly to the slaughterhouse, to veal farms, or to feedlots; the rest become dairy cows like their mothers.
Dairy industry diagram illustrates the different ways to profit off of male calves, who cannot produce milk.
The psychological and physical stresses of life in the dairy industry rapidly weaken and/or sicken cows, quickly rendering them unprofitable to their owners. They are therefore sent to slaughter at a fraction of their natural lifespan. When the cows arrive at the slaughter plant, they often need to be dragged to the kill floor because they are too weak to walk.
A cow too weak to walk (downer) is pulled into a truck which will carry her into the slaughter plant.
A 2014 horror film entitled “The Herd” vividly depicts the torment endured by cows in the dairy industry. This film, directed by Melanie Light, portrays a fictional dairy farm in which the cows are replaced with human women.
In an interview with “Shock Till You Drop,” a website devoted to reviewing horror films, Light, who describes herself as a “vegan feminist,” said: “A lot of people don’t make the connection. Being female isn’t exclusive to humans . . .These cows, pigs and sheep are abused for their reproductive systems.”
Over the years, the term “rape rack” has gradually disappeared from the dairy industry’s vernacular. “It used to be common parlance in dairy farming. Today, farmers are far more savvy about terminology—as are other industries that use animals” says Katie Arth of PETA. “As a result, that term has vanished from the farmers’ vocabulary in the same way that ‘iron maidens’ and ‘restraint chairs’ have been renamed ‘sow stalls’ and ‘gentling devices.’ The industry now prefers to use euphemisms such as ‘breeding boxes’ to describe the boxes or chutes where female cows are restrained while a worker forcibly inseminates them.”
A restrained female cow undergoing artificial insemination
To learn more about artificial insemination please visit Free From Harm.
To learn about other dairy industry practices and undercover investigations done on dairy farms please visit Mercy for Animals.
Historically, meat in China was used as a seasoning. Today, it’s the main course. The radical change in diet coupled with an exploding population has led to the rapid industrialization of animal agriculture — in a country where the humane treatment of animals has not yet entered the public consciousness. Brighter Green, a U.S. based public policy action tank, is attempting to change that.
Industrial agriculture in China has expanded with the increased demand for meat and the explosion of fast food restaurants
Using an all Chinese crew, Brighter Green produced a half hour film – What’s For Dinner? – that documents the surge in factory farms and the tragic impact they are having on the environment, public health and the animals. According to Executive Director Mia McDonald, Brighter Green is using the film as “a tool to raise public awareness about the negative impact of industrialized agriculture and the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet.”
The story is told through the eyes of a retired pig farmer, a vegan restaurateur in Beijing, a livestock entrepreneur, and residents of a city whose water supply has been polluted by factory farm waste.
In addition to exporting fast food restaurants to China, the United States has exported the fallacy that the meat and dairy-centric American diet is healthier than the traditional vegetable-heavy Chinese diet. The mainstream Chinese public has not yet connected the dots between the increase in the consumption of animal protein and the growing obesity and diabetes epidemics. The public also hasn’t made the connection between animal agriculture and the country’s food shortage, which could be curbed if the grain being fed to livestock was instead fed to the people.
Chinese people connect the dots between animal agriculture and their polluted water supply
According to What’s For Dinner?, there is hope, as vegan restaurants gain popularity in Beijing and other cities, and animal welfare organizations are increasing in number and influence. But the shift away from the newly-adopted meat-heavy diet has to occur quickly because, as the filmmakers point out, “Twenty percent of all people live in China, so what the Chinese eat and how they produce food affects not just China, but the entire planet.”
In China, the humane treatment of animals is not yet a part of the public discourse.
When animal rights activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) planned a disruption at a NYC Wine & Food Festival symposium celebrating the consumption of meat, even they didn’t anticipate shutting it down. But that’s exactly what happened during the Q&A at the sold out event hosted by the Wall Street Journal.
Several minutes after the activists stood up – one by one – to draw attention to the violence inherent in the meat industry, attendees in the audience began filing out of the auditorium.
Angry audience member grabs poster out of activist’s hands
An organizer of the event, who was visibly exasperated by the disruption, stood up and said “No one here is listening to what you are saying.” Based on the number of people who left, however, her remark was incorrect.
“While some people would urge us to be nice, our goal at this event was to send a message that, if you host an event that celebrates violence, then you will be disrupted by nonviolent direct action,” said Zach Groff, an organizer with Direct Action Everywhere.
A visibly frustrated event organizer fails to silence the DxE activists
In its advertisement for the event, the NYC Wine & Food Festival writes, “Putting the environmental and health considerations aside, we’ll focus on the culinary and cultural aspects of eating meat, its enduring appeal and shifting significance.” Notably absent from the ad was the “ethical consideration.” The activists, however, ensured that every attendee left the room thinking about the ethics of slaughtering animals.
Exasperated audience members leave meat symposium during DxE disruption
Emmy award winning filmmaker Allison Argo has released the trailer to her highly anticipated documentary. THE LAST PIG, the story of a farmer in upstate New York who struggles to align his livelihood with his principles, chronicles Bob Comis’ final year raising pigs for slaughter, intimately documenting his personal journey from killer to advocate. Watch the extraordinary trailer:
Unlike Howard Lyman, an animal rights activist who once farmed animals on an industrial scale, Mr. Comis became a “humane” pig farmer to offer an alternative to factory farming. According to Argo, he “labored to provide a near-idyllic life for his pigs, digging mud wallows in the summer heat; planting fields of corn where they can feed freely; and providing pigs with acres to roam with their herds.” But after ten years of farming pigs, Mr. Comis reached a tipping point. How could he continue to slaughter the very pigs who follow him around like his beloved dog and who show signs of stress when their friends vanish?
“I’ve come to understand that their eyes are never vacant. There’s always somebody looking back at you.”
In the film, we see Comis embrace the feelings that he worked for years to suppress — that pigs are sentient beings who want to live and that slaughter cannot be reconciled with “humane” farming: “I don’t want to have the power to decide who lives or dies anymore.”
Bob Comis at his farm in upstate New York
The film delivers subtle, but unmistakable messages about animal rights. Among them is our arbitrary cultural bias – regarding dogs as companions and equally intelligent pigs as commodities. Comis’ dog Monk, who follows him around the farm, serves a constant reminder of this bias, especially when he sits in the front of the truck while the slaughter-bound pigs languish in the back.
“This communion is a lie. I am not their herd mate. I am a pig farmer.”
Comis’ decision to transition from a pig to a veganic, vegetable farmer did not come easy because of the risk to his financial security: “I have to give up my job, my livelihood, in order to live in line with my ethics. It’s a colossal effort. It’s a terrifying effort. It’s overwhelming. But I’m committed to doing it.”
THE LAST PIG will be released in spring of 2016. Thus far, filmmaker Allison Argo and cinematographer Joe Brunette have funded production from their own pockets, but they need support with finishing funds. Please contribute, if you can. Follow the progress on Facebook.