Gordon Ramsay, Janet Street-Porter, Dairy Farms and Rethinking "Humane" Terminology
Today I found myself looking into humane dairy farms, it began because I found myself wondering how one would actually go about classifying a slaughterhouse as “humane.” I’m not big on labels – I’ve even written several articles on the misleading nature of the labels ‘cage-free,’ ‘cruelty-free,’ ‘organic,’ etc. Where there’s an opportunity to lie to consumers and make some extra cash, forsaking all integrity, there’s a business that’ll step up to the plate and initiate a grand slam of terrible that can shock even the most skeptical of us. Perhaps initially believing that no group could come together and go THAT far out of their way to be, I dareasay – evil? Only to realize much later that it’s not just possible, but even common.
On my journey I found a video from Gordon Ramsay’s “The F Word” Youtube channel that depicts humane slaughter from early 2011 and features English celebrity Janet Street-Porter (and her calf, David) It’s a fairly tame depiction of male calf slaughter compared to what else is out there. After all veal is a pretty nasty business by nature. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick breakdown:
- Veal is the meat of young cattle (calves), in contrast to the beef from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves (bull calves) of dairy cattle breeds.
- Newborn calves are given a varied amount of time with their mothers, which can be anything from a few hours to a few days.
- The modern veal industry has strong connections with the dairy industry. To produce milk, cows must be lactating, and in order to be lactating, they must get pregnant and give birth. Since only female calves can be used to produce milk, use of male calves is limited, outside of breeding.
- Almost 70% of veal feeds (by weight) are milk products.
- [On veal crates] …veal calves are highly restricted in movement; have unsuitable flooring; spend their entire lives indoors; experience prolonged sensory, social, and exploratory deprivation; and are more susceptible to high amounts of stress and disease.
- The American Veal Association has announced their plan to phase out the use of crates by 2017…
- Veal crates became illegal in the UK in 1990 and they were banned in all European Union member countries…[in] 2007.
The video below is #NOTCRUELTYFREE and more disturbing than anything else is the nature of the workers at this humane slaughterhouse going about their workday. Much like the typical omnivore normalization of meat consumption, these workers have no outwardly-apparent qualms about their work. Slaughterhouses like this are considered humane because of allegedly “painless” and “respectful” deaths (at the hands of specialized workers) that they are subjected to. I need to note that one odd observation I had was how impossibly clean the facility appeared in the clip.
Despite her initial woes, Janet accompanied David to his demise and watched his butchering, all the while visibly shaken. Sometimes I’ve found myself separating the dairy and egg industry from the rest of meat production and consumption, but further research has yet again shown how closely-knit these groups are, that one hand washes the other – one business feeds the next.
Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/4-16-08_counsil_ranch_Dianes_164.jpg