Most of us are totally disconnected from the process of food production. When taking a bite of pepperoni pizza, we don’t think about the fact that we are eating pig. When grabbing a burger, it seldom crosses our minds that we are about to bite into a piece of cow.
As Christians, if someone confronts us with these uncomfortable facts, we justify our behavior by noting that God gave human beings “dominion” over animals in the Genesis creation stories.
But those same stories also insist that God gives us plants to eat, not animals. God creates animals “because it is not good man should be alone.” Look it up. Furthermore, both Isaiah and Paul insist that all of creation will be redeemed such that both human and nonhuman animals will live together in a peaceable kingdom of nonviolent companionship.
Sadly, that time seems a long ways off. Most of the meat we eat comes from huge corporations via monstrous factory farms, in which more than 100 million chickens are slaughtered each week in the United States alone.
The lives of these chickens — like those of most animals in factory farms — are miserable, short and often terribly painful. They spend their pitiful lives in almost complete darkness and in only about one-half of a square foot of living space.
To ensure that they reach full size and move to slaughter quickly, chickens are now genetically altered so that they feel constant hunger and eat as much as they can as quickly as possible. The all-consuming goal of factory farms is to maximize protein-unit output per square foot of space.
The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church teaches that: 1. It is seriously wrong to cause animals to suffer and die without great need; 2. We owe animals kindness. Those who buy chickens and other animals from factory farms cooperate with a cruel evil and make a mockery of our duty to show animals kindness.
Furthermore, virtually no one needs to eat factory-farmed meat — especially given that we can get more than enough protein from eating relatively cheap lentils, peas, beans and nuts.