Via Andrew Sullivan, that is a likely NSFW undercover video showing how pigs are treated in factory farms — in this case, a factory pig farm that services Wal-mart. Pigs are kept in cages so small they cannot turn around, and can barely comfortably lay down. They live their entire lives that way. This is a short video, but unbearable to watch. If you can’t watch it, though, what does that tell you?
We support that, you and I, when we buy factory-farmed meat. Mary Eberstadt, in her introduction to For Love of Animals, Christian theologian Charles Camosy’s new book about animal welfare, says this is evil, and something that pro-life Christians must come to terms with. Excerpt:
For Love of Animals applies the specific lens of Catholic teaching about social justice, pointing out among other details that the Catechism itself says that animals are owed moral treatment. Its author is surely right to attribute the horrors of factory farming, in particular, to an ethic of feckless consumption according to which more is better, all the time. It is rampant and unexamined Western consumerism, more than anything else, that “disconnect[s] us from the process by which pig meat gets on our plate.” I would add to that analysis the friendly amendment that this same consumerism encourages the formation of a habit that is suspect wherever and whenever it appears, but that chronically gets a pass where animals are involved: i.e., a practiced desire to remain ignorant of those things about which we wish not to know.
Of course reasonable and good people will disagree about some of what’s discussed in these pages. Moreover, as the author emphasizes, fundamental cultural change takes time — lots of it. But surely every reader, Christian or otherwise, will agree upon putting down this book that in the matter of animals, lines ought to be drawn and distinctions ought to be made that aren’t currently part of our Western moral topography — and need to be.
Eberstadt goes on to talk about how she gave up eating meat for good after she couldn’t come up with a good answer to Matthew Scully’s question, in his great book Dominion: If you can’t bring yourself to kill the animal, how do you bring yourself to eat it?
I love meat. Love. It. But I have killed a deer, and squirrels, and felt deep revulsion at myself for it. To be clear, I do not believe hunting is wrong, or meat-eating is immoral. Yet I lack the moral courage to kill what I eat. Scully’s question is a bone in my throat.