In today's animal agriculture society, it's nearly impossible to go a single day without overhearing a conversation, reading a newspaper story or watching a news release about animal welfare.
Let me start off by saying that I don't really care for the term animal welfare because many people tend to confuse it with animals rights - which is wrong. I prefer animal well-being, but that's not what this post is about. Yes, I know you're anxious to find out, but first please familiarize yourself with the definitions below.
Animal rights (animal liberation) - the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings (Taylor, Angus. Animals & Ethics).
Animal welfare - the physical and psychological well-being of animals. The term 'animal welfare' can also mean human concern for an animal's welfare or well-being (Hewson, Caroline J. 2003). I'd like to point out that farmers and ranchers believe in animal welfare/well-being, and do so by providing humane care and supervision to livestock to ensure a safely produced and consumed product. However, very few, if any, farmers and ranchers believe their animals should be afforded the same rights as humans.
Ok - you know the difference now, right? Great. Moving on.
As with all things, the way a person words or speaks a phrase can strongly alter the connotation. For example, in the animal science world, a hot button issue is the harvest vs. slaughter terminology debate. Meaning, when animals are ready to be sent to the packing plant and rendered into savory, delicious meat products, should their death and passage into the afterlife be labeled as with other food sources like corn (harvest) or as what is really occurring (slaughter)?
I recently conducted a survey on Twitter of what is preferred and here are some of the replies I got back.
Temple Grandin, world renowned animal behaviorist, has said, "We are slaughtering these animals. We are raising them for a purpose," and I have personally had a conversation with Temple where she said, "We harvest crops, not cattle." So, it's safe to say that Temple is pro-'slaughter'.
However, many other agriculturalists prefer 'harvest' because when chatting with a consumer foreign to the agriculture industry, 'harvest' is much friendlier to the ears and conveys a more appealing visual image. I understand their point - harvest doesn't scream the direct killing (i.e. blood) of an animal but subtly allows it to creep into our minds as an afterthought. "Oh, animals are harvested. How nice."
There are also many people who prefer the term process however, regardless of the jargon used to explain what happens to an animal before it becomes the scrumptious main feature of my dinner, it's critical to realize that animal well-being must always be at the forefront of slaughter/harvesting facilities and practices. The terminology doesn't matter if the care isn't present.
I'll save my opinion on this one for another day (or maybe you've already deduced what I prefer); what I'm really interested in is YOUR opinion. Leave a comment and tell your friends, what do you prefer? What do you say in your daily conversations? I'm really anxious to hear what comes from this.
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
After-thought: Above, I said Temple is pro-slaughter. She is highly in favor of using the word 'slaughter' but stresses that the practice should be low stress and humane. Just wanted to reiterate that. :)