Factory Farming, Though Vile, Does Not Equate To Chattel Slavery

By Seren Sensei

A quiet wave of veganism has tacked its roots in pop culture. Veganism, vegetarianism and to a lesser extent, pescetarianism — existing for so long on the fringe — are finally having their moment in the mainstream, with many adopting the practices of eating solely vegetables and/or cutting out red meat, pork, poultry and dairy. Celebrity chefs, actors, athletes and musicians extoll the virtues of going vegan. Vegan challenges, wherein participants attempt to go entirely vegan for an allotted amount of time, are wildly popular. Smoothie bowls run rampant on social media; vegan options have crept onto menus everywhere from five star restaurants to fast food restaurants. (The popular California hamburger chain Fatburger, was recently the first fast food chain to introduce The Impossible Burger, made entirely of plant protein.)

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There have been a variety of reasons for this rise of interest in plant-based diets, one of the most prominent of which has been factory farming. The detrimental effects of factory farming, wherein animals like cows and livestock are raised for the sole purpose of consumption, have impacted the environment and the economy, as well as our public health. The use of unnecessary antibiotics and growth hormones to keep animals alive and much heavier than they would be naturally has raised questions about the impact these chemicals have on humans that consume the meat. And the impact factory farming is having on the environment due to creating huge amounts of pollution, toxic waste, and water run-off/land contamination cannot be understated. ‘Sustainability’ snuck into the natural lexicon around food, as questions also arose about the ability to maintain our consumption of meat at such a gargantuan pace: according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes roughly 60 pounds more meat annually than they did 50 years ago, which amounts to almost 20% more calories.

A swell of animal rights activism accompanied the push for veganism/vegetarianism, advocating for it due to the inhumane treatment of animals in factory farms and the moral questionability of raising animals purely for slaughter. Vegans in particular have gained a reputation as staunch animal welfare activists, fighting for the rights of animals as living beings with a consciousness, and therefore a set of inalienable rights. Yet many vegans have a nasty habit of equating factory farming with chattel slavery, utilizing the ‘peculiar institution,’ as it was called in the American South, as a metaphor for how it is inhumane to consider the consciousness and rights of ‘chattel’ — in this case, animals raised for consumption — to be different from the consciousness and rights of humans.

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To read the rest of Sensei’s review, go to Riot Material magazine: https://www.riotmaterial.com/factory-farming-not-chattel-slavery/

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RIOT MATERIAL is LA’s premier literary-cultural magazine with an eye on art, word, and forward-aiming thought. Check out our gallery on IG: @ riotmaterial.

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