Pigs, cows and chickens hidden from the world in the countryside. Animal concentration camps. Yes, they are truly happening.
I wrote this blogpost more than a year ago. It’s still important to me and again, the way how I look at foods from animals and plants has changed: I cook without animal products for a year now, so no more dairy and fish. I already stopped eating meat. No cheese and that bit of creaminess it always brings, was difficult in the beginning, but after a while I got over it.
I never realized cashew nuts, almonds and avocado can bring that creamy flavour to food. Really, I discovered a new vegan world, thanks to websites as minimalistbaker and lovethroughplants . I won’t call myself a vegan as in restaurants I do eat dairy sometimes and I have honey in my tea or bread. On a daily basis I won’t be seduced any longer to eat that piece of manchego cheese I used to love since I know a vegan cook here, whose food I’m really fond of and who has said cheese is cow pus (yuck!). If it’s true or not, to me it doesn’t matter, it’s already too late… Yes, things do change all the time 😉 As long as it makes sense to me, I’m totally okay with that.
Today I will share parts of this older post again, just for those who haven’t seen it yet, and add new material.
On this blog I wrote about Dorus, my man, who travelled on his bicycle from Ibiza to the Netherlands and back during the summer of 2017. Crossing countries by bicycle with only a tent and the most basic stuff carrying along with him. He showed me beautiful pictures of the landscape, some of them were like scenes from a painting, green hills, a sunrise with dewdrops covering the gras and trees. Between these pictures I also saw photographs of fields with mega sheds surrounded by big fences, huge sheds totally secluded from the living world. Not a single human soul around. Enormous sheds, big silos to feed the animals and an unbearable smell betraying the presence of hundreds of animals in these mega sheds, too many of them packed and held for human consumption. Not even one animal outside. Miles before a shed emerged in the landscape the nasty smell already indicated that many animals were being kept here, according to Dorus. He hasn’t seen them, but it was all clear by the horrible odour, a smell of milky acid and animal shit.
These photos are taken within a distance of only 10 km between Pamplona and Teruel in Spain. So imagine, how many more of these animal mega sheds exist in France and Spain and of course all over Europe.
The way animals are kept by humans
I see similarities with human concentration camps. First of all, these enormous sheds are totally hidden from the living world. They are located on places where no people live, secluded and only seen if you happen to be there, like Dorus on his bike. Secondly, the huge fences around the sheds. Nobody is able to see what’s going on there. It is even possible that on a daily basis no humans are involved by keeping the animals. The food is given to the animals automatically through huge silos. Thirdly, exploitation. To be misused for a cause that has nothing to do with them, which is human consumption, which brings us straight to destruction: the massive killing of animals. Worldwide 70 billlion animals each year.* Every year 70 billion animals on the world are being slaughtered! Eventually, animals don’t have a voice and a free will like humans, in that way they are powerless beings. Similar to humans in a concentration camp they are being degraded and seen without emotions and feelings. By humans.
Despite the fact animals are capable of feeling pain and suffering, animals are sentient beings, we keep them in this miserable way, solely to serve us. People held in concentration camps are being dehumanised: no human quality is still to be allocated. You could say pigs, which are intelligent beings, are being “decreatured”: no quality of a creature, a being with feelings of suffering and emotion is still given to the animal. It just doesn’t exist. Period.
The multiple award winning documentary “Earthlings” (2005) shows you how animals are kept by humans and what happens to the animals before the meat lies on the supermarket shelves. This documentary is a hard one to watch.
I haven’t seen it yet, but recently watched its sequel “Unity” (2015) by the same filmmaker Shaun Monson. A dramatic movie to watch, but it’s food for thought. Watch the trailer here:
Spanish kitchen loves animal products
Since I live on Ibiza, I have noticed even more that Spain is a country where most of the people eat animal products. The Spanish food culture consists of animal products. Meat, fish, cheese and eggs. Almost every meal is served with at least one of them. Especially the traditional Spanish kitchen is not suitable for vegetarians, let alone vegans. Ibiza is quite an exception though. It’s possible here to have a vegetarian meal without always ending with a salad on your plate. Vegetarian and even vegan restaurants have opened their doors and restaurants have vegetarian options on their menu. It’s way better than years ago where no other alternatives existed than eating meat and fish in restaurants.
High likely also the healthy food trend has contributed to this remarkable change. Not only from an ethical point of view – the suffering of animals in the meat industry – , but for reasons of health – meat is not that healthy for us like we have been taught it to be, also with fish we are no longer certain if it’s really good for us – it isn’t solely animal products that are being served in Spanish restaurants. Yet, the Spanish kitchen is unthinkable without meat and fish. There’s still a long, long way to go. The pintxos and tapas being served in cafés and bars in Spain are often made up with ham, cheese or fish. Obviously Spain has a meat culture and so has France.
70 billlion animals and their health risks
We consume an incredible amount of meat, like mentioned before: 70 billlion animals are killed for consumption each year. This massive amount has to come from somewhere. There’s no doubt that in a country like Spain where eating meat is standard, the chorizo, salchichas and jamón that are gladly accompanied by a nice glass of wine, must be continuously produced to serve the mass. To comply with the enormous demand, the animal concentration camps, the huge animal sheds, will be necessary.
We buy our steak and hamburgers at the butcher or in the supermarket where it is nicely packed without having any idea of an animal life. The end product is easy to buy without hardly having an idea of all steps in the production process before it ends in the supermarket and on your plate. The way animals are being held, unnatural and with far too many packed in mega sheds to be eventually killed, is not only miserable, but also a dangerous risk for the animal’s health and causes animal diseases, like Q-fever in the Netherlands, which can effect our health significantly.
Also animals have to grow as quick as possible, therefore they are given numerous amounts of antibiotics, even before the animals get sick. As a result the animals’ resistence to diseases is weakened and bacteria are becoming insensitive to all antibacteria, which happens in both animal and fish farming. Animals get sick by the way they are kept by humans and people get sick because of the way they’re keeping animals, Dutch politician Marianne Thieme says in her excellent and very informative book “De kanarie in de kolenmijn (2016)”. It’s also available in English “The canary in the coalmine”. This book opened my eyes!
I still remember when I started to get more conscious about eating meat. I always loved my mother’s spicy meatballs – the best in the world- , her homemade chicken soup and the veal pastries and pork tenderloin with Christmas. When I was nineteen I went to university and lived on my own with other students. I cooked my own meals and often with meat as one of the main ingredients.
In that time I read an article about an animal disease that started in the UK, called BSE (a bovine disease), which could be deadly if you happened to have consumed meat of an infected cow. I think it was the first time I started to discover meat isn’t actually that healthy so I no longer bought it and changed it for plant based veggie burgers. It didn’t mean that I completely stopped eating meat, but I reduced my meat consumption and no longer cooked it for myself. That went on for quite some time. Later I started to cook with organic meat and my perspective shifted more towards animal welfare – or better said the lack of it. The last couple of years when I still lived in Amsterdam I remember I almost felt sick by watching the enormous amounts of meat lying in the supermarkets just before Christmas. All those animals just died for human consumption. I couldn’t justify eating meat anymore. The moments I did eat meat I started to ask myself questions. Why I’m eating it? Do I really need it? What about the animals? Is this right to do? I could never harm or kill an animal so why I’m still eating it? In other words, I became more conscious.
Every time I find another reason to keep banning it from my diet. I watched some great documentaries, like Cowspiracy (2014) and Sea The Truth (2010), I got inspired by a good friend who became vegan and saw some interesting talks from animal activists and read the eye-opening book from politician and activist Marianne Thieme. Further, there’s evidence available that demonstrate the meat industry is the biggest polluter of the planet: livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions effected by the feeding, transportation, digestion and production involved in raising livestock.** Watch Cowspiracy, you’ll be amazed. Moreover, wildlife habitat is being occupied to grow food for livestock which endangers animal lives.
Studies have been done which present an intake of animal protein isn’t the answer to a good balanced health. Besides, animal protein isn’t stored in the human body, just like plant based protein, but has to break up in amino acids first, which are the building blocks of all protein, in order to develop human protein. It crucially takes the human body much more energy to break up animal protein compared to plant protein. That often explains the bloated and heavy feeling after eating meat.
We need to consume meat to stay healthy, right? That’s at least what the meat industry propagates and that is exactly the same with the dairy industry where animals are being exploited as well. Remember the famous advertisement slogan “Milk the white motor” of the Dutch dairy organisation that promoted we all need milk for our health.
With regard to the exploitation of the animals it is just as bad as the meat industry. Baby cows are immediately taken away from their mothers for reasons of mass milk production for human consumption and male baby cows go straight to the slaughterhouse as they are useless for producing dairy.
Do you care?
If you consider to “go vegan” (change to a plant-based diet), make sure you eat heaps of whole grains, such as whole oats, brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa. Also legumes, such as beans, chickpeas and lentils are healthy and nutritious. And don’t forget the starchy vegetables and nuts and seeds! This works quite well for me (coeliac). Hummus is one of my favorites and very easy to make. If you only eat salads you feel weak after a while and you don’t have enough energy during the day.
Do we all need to become vegetarian or vegan? I believe it’s most important when you feel healthy and conscious about eating or not eating animal products. By writing about the animal mega sheds in France and Spain which Dorus encountered during his biketrip I hope someone who reads this will become more conscious about the mass meat industry.
We allow animal concentration camps to exist. We all have a choice with our forks and knives. We have power in what we choose to consume. We can educate ourselves. We can choose to reduce our meat consumption drastically or by no longer consuming meat. It’s everybody’s choice, although it can be hard sometimes to notice that people don’t care (enough) because they have other priorities. And it’s awesome too to see more and more people actually start becoming conscious about their power!
* Compassion In World Farming: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/about-us/strategic-plan M.Thieme, E. Engelen, De kanarie in de kolenmijn (2016), p. 58.
** Goodland, Robert & Anhang, Jeff. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs and chickens?”. WorldWatch. November/December 2009 http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf