‘Humane practices'? Oh, the humanity!

Sarah Downs is a local animal-rights activist and a founder of VegChico.

In light of the recent violations exposed at the Hallmark Meatpacking Plant in Chino, and even more important the 143 million-pound beef recall brought about by the USDA, I thought I would take a moment to mention the bigger problem I see with this whole situation.

I grew up near Chino, where a lot of the farms were family-owned and -operated. A lot of them still operate that way, and it’s become hip these days to buy meat, eggs and dairy from such farms because of their “humane” practices. As a result, when talking about my choice to follow a vegan lifestyle, the words I keep hearing over and over are, “I like to buy humane meat.”

Herein lies the problem: There is no such thing as “humane meat.”

A good majority of the animals sent to Hallmark for slaughter came from family-owned and -operated farms. So yes, for the sake of argument, the animals were raised humanely, in most cases.

However, what happens once they are loaded onto the truck and sent off for processing? What happens when they leave their “happy” existences? The video captured by the Humane Society of the United States will show you.

If you think this is new information, or an exception to the norm, think again. Farm Sanctuary has been investigating slaughterhouses for 20 years and has years of footage of these exact practices being carried out. Other animal-protection groups have captured footage, just like the footage seen around the nation recently—before and after the Downed Animal Act was passed—of this very type of abuse and disregard for the law.

A friend of mine, who grew up in Southern California and has family members who operated a farm and worked with Hallmark, told me that when he was a kid, he visited Hallmark. On the wall in the office was a drawing by one of the children of another Hallmark employee. The drawing was a depiction of an employee, beating a cow, behind a Hallmark truck. A speech bubble had him yelling something to the effect, “Get up you downer!”

Please, do the most humane thing of all and give up meat—once or twice a week, once or twice a month, for the rest of your life. Heck, do the same with eggs; they are loaded with cholesterol. On top of that, poultry is intentionally exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act, so there is no protection for them when it comes to processing sick or injured birds.

Most important, buying local does not mean you are buying humane. Think outside the nicely packaged box, and think about what you are participating in. In the end, feel better about yourself and what you eat.