Animals as Food
Beef cattle spend a short time grazing outdoors but are brought
to feed lots after about six months. Here they are fed an unnatural
diet of grain, rather than grass, which fattens them up more quickly.
To further increase growth, remains from other cows may be added
to the feed of these vegetarian animals.
Exposure to the elements is a serious problem. Cattle are often
out in summer with no shade and in winter with no shelter. Farmers
report huge losses to the elements. In Europe, cattle are thus being
brought indoors, the cost of protection from the elements being
the unnatural life and same sort of overcrowding experienced by
dairy cows and pigs.
Steers are usually castrated, dehorned and branded, all without
The majority of beef cattle are given antibiotics to keep them
disease free despite a diet of corn, which is unhealthy for them but
encourages the fatty meat that sells best in America, and is
unhealthy for humans. They are also given hormones so that they grow faster.
March 31, 2001, The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story by
Michael Pollan, entitled "This Steer's Life." Pollan
followed the life of a steer from birth till death. The article,
which details life on a feedlot, is wonderfully informative. You
will find it on line at http://www.nehbc.org/pollan1.html.
Pollan favors grass-fed beef, surely a kinder choice than beef from
steers raised on feedlots. But he has too much faith in
slaughterhouse monitoring. Another must-read is the April 19, 2001,
Washington Post front page article "They
Die Piece by Piece", which describes animals in a slaughterhouse
being cut up "clearly alive and conscious. Some would survive
as far as the tail cutter, the belly ripper, the hide