One Man’s Meat

A controversy is brewing and I need your comments for a letter to the meat industry. Would you prefer hormone-free, free-range meat or are concerns about food shortages more important than compassion to animals?

IT’S a complex moral dilemma indeed. A few weeks ago, 35 veterinary scientists put an advertisement in this paper promoting the use of hormones in meat, and giving reasons why hormones were better for livestock, people and the environment. The ad was in response to Coles’ saying it was promoting hormone-free meat.

It was later revealed that the ad was bankrolled by veterinary drug companies including Pfizer and Bayer under the guise of the Animal Health Alliance. Spokesman for the veterinary scientists, Sydney University’s Professor Ian Lean, told me that there was no conflict of interest – the issue was so important that the scientists needed the muscle of drug companies to fund their campaign.

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The verdict is out on this in medical circles. HGP is banned in Europe. But claims that current practices are good for animals are patently ludicrous. Animals such as sows are kept in crates, separated from their young. They can’t move to the right or left for their whole lives, which is why they need growth hormones. They grieve continually. Professor Clive Phillips at the University of Queensland says the suffering of hormone-fed cattle is acute: animals become overheated; they live in discomfort.

The ethics of this have not gone unnoticed by the board of Coles and now Woolworths who can see the cruelty and know that consumers no longer want to support inhumane practices. Meanwhile, adrenalin from fear and misery permeates the flesh we eat. One of the reasons pigs in particular are kept in tiny crates, claims Lean, is because they roll on their young and thus eradicate our food supply. “What mother would not undergo a little discomfort to ensure that more of her children survived?”

According to Lean, Coles is involved in a cynical marketing exercise and consumers would not support its efforts if they knew the “facts”. I say he’s wrong. I told him I’d put it to my readers and publish the response. I say that most people feel deeply about such matters and, given half the chance, would want a solution that is both drug-free and compassionate. I need your opinions.



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479 Responses to One Man’s Meat

  1. Jane Wing 23 April 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    PS: Looking over the comments here many of them reflect a desire for an holistic approach to animal farming – ideally fully free range etc. While in principal I absolutely support that, as a working single parent always buying top of the line free range 100% animal-friendly meat is outside my realistic budgetary constraints (I wish it wasn’t!). So, may I add I think it is important to separate out the issues here. One can look at injecting artificial sex hormones into cattle (and pork) and the intensive farming practices that sadly often accompany this practice as a whole – or just focus on the hormones. For my vote as a parent I say “ban the hormones right now” and then work towards more animal-friendly farming practices as an ultimate goal. The immediate human health risks for me, I’m afraid, outweigh the animal rights issues (sorry!)

  2. Charmain Pomfret 23 April 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I think it is almost certain that Coles and Woolworth’s have a cynical marketing motive for promoting hormone-free meat, but who cares if the outcome is the same and animals benefit as a result. Consumers drive changes with their dollars.

    I also think schools should include field trips to factory farming enterprises in their curriculum. Children should see where their food comes from. I was takenon a tour of a pork-pie factory at age ten; live pigs went in one end and came out the other as pork pies. Made a huge impression on me. I haven’t eaten a pork-pie since and only buy free-range or hormone-free meats, and go without if there are none available.

  3. Peter Wesley 23 April 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    It’s not a dilemma because as consumers we have a choice.
    As one who has been involved in the rural industry at all levels since the 1950’s I see the hormone issue purely as a lesson in economics from the farmer to the consumer.
    With regards to pigs in crates I witnessed the practice in Scotland during the late 1950’s. At that time best practice animal husbandry with breeding pigs insisted on sows being housed in birthing pens just prior to having piglets, and remaining in the pens until the piglets were weaned. This was done precisely for the reason stated by Lean and before the HGP period.
    One thing that is guaranteed in present and future food production is that a vast majority of it will have to be enhanced in one form or another to meet the rapidly growing demands of an expanding world population.
    Fortunately in Australia we can presently afford to make a choice of what to buy, thanks to conscientious farmers and a vigorous wholesale and retail market environment.
    PS Congratulations on producing one of our favourite weekly newspaper columns.

  4. Jane Wing 23 April 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    I think the fact that the European Union banned growth promotants some years ago now – and indeed Tasmanian has done the same – says it all. It makes logical sense to me that adding hormones such as oestrogen to food we eat, even if the amounts are small as maintained by the industry, MUST over time cumulatively increase our absorption of these hormones. When Coles launched their campaign I was utterly flabbergasted – I believed all Australian meat to be hormone free. While I have been concerned and aware for some time about the use of antibiotics in livestock, this seems a minor issue compared to processes which artificially raise the levels of reproductive we ingest. With widespread alarm at increases in rates of breast and prostate cancer, and the seemingly every-decreasing age of puberty in girls, I cannot help but wonder if this is a ticking time bomb. If, as Coles claim, the quality of the meat is actually made worse through the use of hormones, and there is ANY doubt as to the long term health implications of this practice, surely it must be stopped. I now buy my beef and pork only from butchers who can validate the source of their products as hormone free, or Coles (and increasingly Coles as their meat DOES taste better now!).

  5. rose 23 April 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Prof Lean and the 35 Vets are the people involved in a cynical excercise. I am speechless that those trained in welfare of animals should think that it is ok to treat animals in this way, Or am I wrong about vets. I must be. To suggest that the sow would willing suffer for her off spring is outrageous. This mother isn’t given a choice. Her’s is a life of agony and grieving

  6. Josephine Norman 23 April 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Dear Ruth
    Prof. Lean’s statement that there was no conflict of interest when drug companies fund the ‘Animal Health Alliance’ is ludicrous, as is his assertion that informed consumers will not support Coles’ efforts. When I witness the way our society mistreats animals, including those raised to provide us with food, I am truly sickened. These creatures are sentient beings and deserve so much better. Immanuel Kant put it well and succinctly when he observed: ‘We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.’ Perhaps with the help of columnists like you, and organisations like Voiceless, I will live to see a situation in which animals are truly appreciated and treated accordingly.

  7. Kim 23 April 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    Ruth, I couldn’t agree more. I buy my meat from farmers markets and it’s not only tastier, more tender and more humane (organic and free range), but often a lot less costly too. The argument put forward by Lean would suggest a move to vegetarianism is what society needs to save it from food shortages and lack of space, not HGP! I like my meat and find as a coeliac with a tendency to anemia that I do need it, but it’s not worth it if we can’t demonstrate some compassion.

  8. Valerie 23 April 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Ruth, it’s all been said by others, but I must add my voice also. My family has an annual visit to our cabin in Jackeys Marsh, Tasmania, generally in September. It heals our hearts and souls to see calves and lambs cavorting in large green paddocks within sight of their mothers. We also see one, sadly only one, paddock that has a sow wandering free with a number of her piglets. Animals Australia have, I understand, convinced the Tasmanian Government to phase out pig breeding in crates – sadly I think this is to happen over a number of years – but congratulations to AA for all of their efforts on behalf of animals bred for meat. Just think of a new wave of tourism that could be created: tourists to visit areas where the animals are raised as nature intended. Parents could pay a fee to get close up to these creatures, and a further fee for their kids to help to collect the eggs from free range chooks. I followed in my daughters’ footsteps approximately 22 years ago to become non meat and non poultry eaters. I have cut down on seafood, and like to think that one day I will be a fully fledged vegetarian.

    Congratulations, Ruth Ostrow. In my opinion, your article was an award winning one.

  9. Kay 23 April 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Hormones used for chickens in Europe a few years ago were linked to male infertility due to increases in oestrogen in males.

  10. Anne Turner 23 April 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Dear Ruth
    Thankyou for promoting the case for ethics in food production, namely HGP free meat and poultry. I care little if the marketing of hormone free produce is a “cynical marketing exercise” by Coles and Woolworths if it brings about the end of animals suffering for the benefit of human consumption.
    Intensive and contained farming practices have been driven by the greed of our larger food corporations, so if they are now at last seeing a need for humane practice in food production, then we will all be better off.
    I am sick of the self interested scientific lobbies who feed at the trough of the drug companies’ research dollars under the guise of concern for healthy eating issues.

  11. Kay 23 April 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Guess where the 35 ‘scientists’ get their research funding! another good reason for our governments to maintain and increase research funding in this country not decrease it.

    We could solve the ‘food shortage’ if the obese nations stopped encouraging overcomsumption and birth control became safer and more widespread. education in nutrition needs to be unbiased (not funded by the various special interest boards pushing meat, dairy, bread etc consumption)

  12. Zaca 23 April 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    The only reason there is a looming food shortage is because societies like our own are feeding the majority of the grain grown to livestock. It has been said that there is enough grain grown each year to end world hunger, and yet it is diverted from our mouths to fuel the meat industry, an industry so insidious and cruel. Also, we’re getting a little short on water too. Look up how many litres of water it takes to produce just one piece of meat from a cow and wonder why.
    Coles and Woolworths are just using this as a marketing ploy, yes, but the guy from Sydney University is clearly made of very little moral fibre. How dare he speak of animals the way he does. The meat on people’s plates is purely the product of fear and oppression. People have this idea that they are better than everything else on the planet; what have they done to justify taking the lives of at least 100 other animals a year? Absolutely nothing. I hate the way the general population sees this world as nothing more than a place to serve them.
    There is no such thing as ‘cruelty free’ meat, as growing another creature purely to kill and eat it is intrinsically abhorrent.

  13. Ian Rollerson 23 April 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Excellent article and I fully agree with your sentiments – apart from your comment on this website that it is ‘controversial’. I can’t see anything controversial in what you’ve said. Big business with vested interests may well jump up and down and make it appear that way – but we know why they do this and should take no notice whatsoever.

  14. george 23 April 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    “Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal.” ~Ingrid Newkirk
    “Australia exports millions of sheep and thousands of cattle each year to the Middle East where there are no laws to protect them from acts of cruelty.

    Seven separate investigations by Animals Australia in the Middle East have documented terrible abuses of Australian animals. Sheep are regularly bought by individual buyers for home slaughter. They are trussed with rope and shoved into car boots in a region where temperatures are regularly above 40°C in Summer. In abattoirs and private homes sheep face a terrifying slaughter, as their throats will be cut whilst fully conscious.

    Millions of people in the Middle East believe that Australians approve of their treatment of animals due to our willingness to export them to their country.

    Rather than inspiring much needed change, we are reinforcing long-held beliefs that such cruel treatment of animals is acceptable.”
    “Most Australians are appalled by animal cruelty, yet are unaware that their supermarket purchases support one of the cruelest industries in the country.

    Australia’s pig industry has been adept at keeping its secrets, knowing that many Australians would refuse to purchase pork, ham and bacon products if informed of the cruelty pigs endure in factory farms and during the slaughter process.

    Pregnant pigs can be kept for their entire 4 month pregnancy in a tiny metal stall not much bigger than the size of their bodies. Nursing mothers are similarly confined. Unable to interact with their babies they watch helplessly as their piglets have their tails cut off and teeth clipped without pain relief. Male piglets are castrated without anaesthetic.

    The ability of these intelligent and sensitive animals to suffer is no different to the family dog. Despite this, consecutive governments have provided legal exceptions to pig farmers to prevent them from being prosecuted for animal cruelty so that they can maximize their profits.”

    The information is out there, the choice is yours.

  15. Joe Nagy 23 April 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Ruth thanks for an excellent article. The driving factor in the campaign to feed oestrogen and growth hormones to livestock is financial i.e. profits. Drug companies will market these products to primary producers on the basis that inventory i.e. livestock will turn over faster and thus shorten the operating cycle. This will reduce their costs and quicken cash flow. The value of their livestock will increase as animal weight increases, resulting in greater cash flow and profits. Consumers, once more, will bear the risk of a properly untested and unproven product as happened with pregnant women and cigarettes. It will take years to confirm whether these drugs are safe or unsafe for human consumption.

  16. Barbara 23 April 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I would like to believe that the meat that I do eat, is from animals that have lived a relatively happy, comfortable and drug free life. I try to eat far less meat than I may have in the past. I am willing to pay more for such meat (as I do for free range eggs) but suspect some of the exorbitant margin currently charged for ‘organic’ produce is a false reflection of the cost of production.

    We should also consider ‘puppy farming’ similarly in the pantheon of our cruelty to animals.

  17. Marilyn Allan 23 April 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Hi Ruth – I wish to request range free for all animals … if we must eat meaty beings. I thought Woolies and Coles had agreed to phase out caged pigs – and so they should – what a discusting way to rear an animal – and what an excuse – they roll on the babies – well if they had enough room and were lovingly monitored they wouldn’t roll on the piglets. Veal is another issue as well as baby goats whipped off their mums so they give more milk – all a bit sad but at least most goat herders have empathy for the orphans and try to appease the little babies. If farmers provided happy pastures and quality life for their animals we woud all be happier – and if we could all be weaned off meat and find substitutes in veggies it would be a happier world. The brain is an amazing thing – we dont visualise the slaughter of lambs as we eat our lamb cutlets, we dont think of pigs red raw from bashing against the sides of the small cages, we dont think of the trauma of cattle lined up waiting to be excuted. Let’s not get into the disgusting blood lust Asian markets where fish and poultry, dogs and animals are tortured daily Perhaps we need more graphic advertising to convert us into vegos … thanks for making some space available for a good whinge … always a reader of your column – Marilyn from Red Rock – yes we’re still here.

  18. Karen Nixon 23 April 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    I recently adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, mainly because I didn’t feel like eating meat anymore. I was surprised how relieved I felt. I could read about pigs, cattle and sheep without feeling guilty anymore. I started to research vegetarianism and was shocked when I read “The China Study.” For years I have followed health issues in the common media, but I had never heard of what it found, namely, that the more animal protein you eat, the sicker you are. On the spot I decided to become vegan. I can only wonder why such information is not prevalent in our society when there appears to be such an interest in promoting healthy lifestyles and avoiding the cost to society of so much illness.

  19. Ruth Ostrow 23 April 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Thank you all of you! Tell everyone you know to comment here and let’s get a letter of protest together which I will compile from your comments, and one to send to Coles supporting its efforts.

  20. Dr.Jim Stuart 23 April 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I Commend Coles for promoting hormone free meat. animals have as much right as human to a stress free life. I feel strongly anti to inhumane treatment of animals. the end never justifies the means

  21. Marika and George Baumann 23 April 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Hi Ruth,

    Thank you for airing this important subject.
    There need be no conflict between human need and animal welfare. Just a 10% reduction in meat consumption in the West would lead to a significant reduction in hunger in the Developing World. See for example the deprivation of Central and South American communities of grain to satisfy U.S. demand for grain-fed beef.
    I am afraid human greed (for both dollars and rich food) are at the bottom of this problem. This, together with the irrational fear of not getting sufficient protein in our diet unless we stuff ourselves with as much meat as possible, a fear created by people whose motivation is mixed at best, have led to the present practice of terrible cruelty and environmental vandalism which manyof us have become insensitive to.
    There is much evidence available now to show that we can live a healthy life consuming a lot less animal protein than we in our wealthy society presently do.

    All the best,
    George Baumann
    86 Mort St.
    Balmain, N.S.W. 2041
    (02)9555 7314

  22. Dr.Jim Stuart 23 April 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I commend Coles for promoting hormone free meat. Animals have as much right as humans to a stress free life. I feel strongly anti to inhumane treatment of animals.The end never justifies the means.

  23. Euthene Parsons 23 April 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Thankyou, thankyou. After seeing a programme on the life and death of commercially kept sows and their young in Australia and those kept for eating, selling and bartering in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, I know, as a pig, where I would rather be! I haven’t eaten pork since then. Those poor Australian raised pigs. I have not been able to eat veal either since I found out about the way calfs are raised commercially to keep their meat pale. Hormones for cows are beyond the pale.

  24. Judy Jensen 23 April 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Good on you Ruth. We need people prepared to bring this issue to the fore. Please no hormones, no additives, no genetically modified foods. Watch “Food Inc” and “The Future of Food” to see how current agricultural practices in the US have created disastrous effects. We need to get back to small, mixed farms and pay our farmers a fair price for the produce. If we eat seasonal, local produce it would be less expensive anyway. And the upside is we would all be healthier and happier including the animals!

  25. Wendy 23 April 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Firstly there are people out here raising free range pigs, grass fed hormone free beef etc. Make the effort to support them.
    If it costs a little more eat a little less.
    The only people who really need us to have hormones in our food are those selling hormones. (Not just meat they are also in fruits.)
    Graziers are always lamenting the reduced carrying caacity of their properties compared to Grandpas day. But the animals they are running today are bigger and produce more milk. wool or meat so they can’t run as many. Are they really making more profit by using hormones or are they just making a bigger turnover?

  26. Liz 23 April 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Ruth I am just horrified by the largely untold story of the hormones pumped into our beef. I have puzzled for years about the obvious very early development of teenage girls – my own among them – in particular breast development: I blamed chicken and spent a fortune on free range poultry without realising Australian chicken is hormone free – the problem was in our beef (and some pork too). Surely this is simply money making without any real understanding of risk!!! There’s more info on this facebook page (you might not wish to publish the link but it’s got some interesting info)

  27. Jo & Olaf 23 April 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Ruth, we are moved to applaud you for devoting your whole article to such a compelling and multi-faceted issue. However you are only too well aware, I’m sure, this is just the tip of the iceberg with regards to treatment of animals and poultry bred for human consumption. As Linda McCartney once said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, the whole world would be vegetarian”. We are vegans a year now and the more we discover, the more we are appalled at the antics of pharmaceutical companies and business working together to deceive the public in a morally questionable, if not reprehensible, fashion. The DVD titled Food Inc (based on book Fast Food Nation) and movie “The End of the Line” should be compulsory viewing in schools and generally across Australia. There is much study proving the negative effects of consuming large amounts of animal protein (ref The China Study). Anyway, what we mainly want to say is “good on you” Ruth for bringing this story to the fore. I hope your article generates many enquiries and posts on your wall. Our hearts bleed for the suffering of the animals and we continue to reject meat/animal protein in our daily lives.

  28. harry martin 23 April 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Good afternoon Ruth Ostrow,
    I am quite squeamish and sensitive to my own pain and suffering but not particularly sensitive to the pain of others or animals. Nonetheless the thinking part of my brain tells me that it is bad for me and society generally if we are needlessly cruel to other people and other creatures.
    I became a vegetarian 52 years ago initially out of curiosity at the supposed health benefits. I am not a vegan but am glad I at least do not contribute to the processes of appalling cruelty and suffering involved in animal husbandry and meat production.
    I am inclined to think towards the end of this century we will look back at the age of human carnivores with the same sense of disbelief and horror with which we now regard cannibalism.

  29. Brandy Pearson 23 April 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    The question that “What mother would not forego a little discomfort to ensue that more of her children survived?” is surely facetious. Being unable to turn right or left for an entire life while being separated from your young hardly strikes me as a “little discomfort”. What mother would wish her children to end up in the same state or to enter the food supply after being pumped on hormones? Our mistreatment of animals is ethically wrong. Our dependence on treating cattle with hormones to move them along faster is cruel to the animals and potentially disastrous to our health. I’m glad Coles has taken the stand they have on this issue.

  30. cyberfysh 23 April 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I’ve just read your column, and I want to add my voice to those supporting organic, free-range, hormone-free livestock production.

    The main reason I shop at Coles rather than Woolworths is because there’s a range of organic fresh fruit and veg (admittedly pretty small so far) and I can buy organic canned beans, tomatoes, baked beans, spaghetti sauce, etc, as well as organic fair-trade coffee & chocolate, and even organic popcorn, as well as beef, lamb and chicken.

    I hope that rewarding those farmers who’ve adopted more sustainable and livestock-friendly practices will encourage more to make the change. Surely it will be better for everyone.

  31. Peter Bayly 23 April 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    while I question the altruism of Coles I am sure drug companies are motivated only by profit.
    The thought of the exploitation of animals is off-putting and to see it would probably turn me vegetarian.
    Free range should be the norm even if it costs more.

  32. Bernie 23 April 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Of course these decisions are made by those greedy for more. People do not need to eat as much meat as we do. It is true that more people are put off by the inhumane treatment to animals. An eight year old told me last week that “people shouldn’t eat animals there is plenty of other food to eat”.

  33. Phil 23 April 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    I do feel deeply about this. I do want us to be compassionate and drug free in our treatment of animals. Economic rationalist approaches m ight be ok when evaluating the engineering details of building a bridge for example; it is short-sighted and inappropriate when applied to how we treat living things.

  34. Margaret Houk 23 April 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I agree with the column and think Sydney University
    Ian Lean is deeply out of the loop; people (shoppers) do think about these issues, and are beginning to insist on their right to buy drug and chemical-free products when possible. Most, if asked, would also prefer not to support producers who profit from cattle. pigs and chickens raised in hideous cramped conditions. And while we’re about it let’s look hard at the live-export of shiploads of sheep and cattle to the Middle East – we should be insisting on their being slaughtered humanely here…Naming the companies involved would help here I am sure.

  35. Pat 23 April 2011 at 11:47 am #

    My suggestion, Maybe Prof Lean would like to hop in a small box where he cannot move and be fed hormones like the animals are, then he would truly be able to give his expert opinion. Good for animals, how would he know. No conflict of interest what a load of bollocks.
    I find in this world at present its greed rules all to the detriment of all other species we share the planet with.

  36. Candy 23 April 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Thank you for writing such a concise article about a very important issue. I believe that when we ingest any food into our bodies we not only take in all the chemicals and substances, but also the ‘energy’ of that food. Our bodies are already in overload dealing with all the environmental chemicals, pollutants and other stresses and strains. On top of all of that, animals are sentient beings, and don’t deserve to be abused in the way they are, in ‘service’ to us.

  37. Wendy Webster 23 April 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Our family have been quick to criticise Coles for a variety of behaviours in recent months, but their stand over hormone-free meat is to be applauded. Consumers do want hormone-free produce; look at the situation that is arising world-wide because of inappropriate use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. I am appalled by Professor Lean’s comments and unsurprised to read that the ad I read a few weeks ago was financed by (veterinary) drug companies. Here we go again…. Sows being kept in cages for their entire lives is hardly the same as enduring “a little discomfort”. Pigs don’t have the cognitive skills of humans so don’t understand that their confinement is supposed to ensure more of their offspring will survive. Cages were unheard of during my childhood but we were never short of pork products because sows had rolled on their offspring. Horrific images shown on our television screens last year here in Tasmania, of the effects of cage reared pigs have done much to encourage us to search out free range pork products; they are available if one is prepared to look and support the shops that sell them.

  38. Gordon Russell 23 April 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Dear Ruth. Thanks for your thoughful columns. On meat – perhaps we could eat less meat and eat more of what we feed these poor creatures. Reducing our consumption in the West may benefit not just the animals! Hugs, Gordon. Adelaide.

  39. Jannine Eldred 23 April 2011 at 10:49 am #

    There seems to be a fair amount of controversy over whether growth hormones in the meat they eat are detrimental to people. I’m guessing most of the pro-hormone material is from people with a vested interest. For me the bottom line is the inhumane treatment of the animals. I can’t see any reason not to pay more for humanely produced and healthy meat without hormones or excessive adrenaline. We could simply eat less meat. I certainly don’t want to eat meat from animals who have had miserable, painful lives, and I like to think that the Coles campaign is not just a cynical marketing exercise but a response to consumer awareness.

  40. mark rippon 23 April 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Good on you Coles for taking the lead the cruelty in the meat industry is sickening and by thougthless purchasing of these products we are supporting this cruel and barbaric farming .Awareness is the path to change ,thankyou Ruth .

  41. anne beaumont 23 April 2011 at 10:29 am #

    ruth,i agree with you.i and most of my friends find animal cruelty abhorant whether related to food or cosmetics. we support coles and anyone who farms humanely

  42. Carolyn Barnes 23 April 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Hi Ruth
    Thank you very much for your stand on this. It is surprising that it has been able to continue for so long but I am hoping things are changing particuarly with Coles and Woolworths taking a stand. I don’t know how people can actually be a part of such cruelty and live with themselves.

    Please keep up the good work.

  43. Patricia West 23 April 2011 at 10:14 am #

    I feel strongly with your views and that of your previous commentators. Vets should know better but I can only state these views and buy my fresh meat, not from supermarkets but local butchers who need supporting too. Cruelty to animals and to humans is unforgivable and need not happen. We are civilized after all, aren’t we??

  44. Helen 23 April 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Ruth – in response to your column on ethical treatment of animals in food production – I am definitely against the use of hormones and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry is concerning, as it is whenever vested interests have too much sway over our lives. I shop for a family of 4 and we have 2 vegetarians and 2 organic meat eaters (who also eat a lot of vego food). Our interests are in both the ethics and the health side of things (organic certification requires producers to abide by certain ethical treatment standards). As the mum of two teenagers, I realise that I am at my ‘peak’ shopping time with a fully loaded trolley every week. I am always looking for new vegetarian options that are not like some kind of plastic texture and without flavour enhancers. Also, recently, I saw some ham labelled ‘bred free range’ but I wondered what happened after the ‘bred’ stage. My teenage son is always hungry and while we do a lot of our own cooking from scratch (we have an ‘old school’ vege burger recipe that even has the meat eaters interested – but involves a fair bit of grating, nut-grinding and pre-cooking), I am always happy to find stuff that doesn’t require much prep. I would like to see the supermarkets get more interested in our kind of people – often my decision on where I shop is dictated by whether I have run out of a certain brand of vegetarian ‘schnitzel’ that my teenage daughter loves. It is only available at one supermarket in my usual orbit, so I go there and spend maybe $150 on other stuff. I also shop at a market on the weekend. I really appreciate the supermarkets providing things that fit with our life choices, but I want the things represented as ‘ethical’ and ‘whole foods’ to be genuine and not just a marketing exercise. We are not doing this as some kind of novelty – e.g. my husband has been a vegetarian all his adult life – he’s 50.

  45. Jenny 23 April 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Every animal wants -and deserves -to live it’s natural life.
    We humans are not carnivores thus we have no need of flesh in our diet (nor birds eggs or cows breast milk)
    Needlessly imprisoning, mutilating and killing life -loving, intelligent, sensitive animals is cruel.
    I’ve had no animal products fo 32 years so I can vouch for the fact that you don’t need animal products in your diet.

  46. Ruth Ostrow 23 April 2011 at 1:27 am #

    Thanks Mary, sadly when I visited Asia recently I realised how difficult this road was going to be especially with regards to pigs. These maligned animals are more intelligent than dogs, they are highly social beings and grieve when they’re separated from their young, yet they live in crates their whole lives. One should listen to Brian Sherman founder of the animal rights group Voiceless on this matter. It makes me so sad.

  47. Ruth Ostrow 23 April 2011 at 1:25 am #

    Hi Stew, no one is saying that farmers and workers in the meat industry need to suffer hardship either. I do know what I am talking about. My father was a butcher and later a meat producer. But in his day farmers did it naturally. Cows and sheep roamed the paddock. There were no hormones and very few feed lots. Yes, there were still brutal killing methods. As i child I heard things I never should have known about. Cruel things. But at least before death these animals lived freely and with their young. We are not in a third world country here. With so much grazing land, there is no excuse for keeping animals in such torturing conditions.

  48. Stew 23 April 2011 at 1:19 am #

    Ruth I totally agree that our treatment of animals is dreadful. However, what about our farmers? We need them and our food producers to survive financially. There has to be further discussion and thought put in to this matter, and not only emotion. But we definitely do need to look at the bigger picture with compassion and fairness shown to all including the animals.

  49. Mary 23 April 2011 at 1:12 am #

    Ruth you’ve done it again. Of course we all want hormone-free, free range animals. How could anyone condone the way “livestock” is treated. Even the word makes us turn a blind eye to the fate and suffering of real animals. Good on Coles!

  50. Go Mo 23 April 2011 at 1:09 am #

    I am appalled at the way the animals we eat are treated. As academic and philosopher Peter Singer says, a nation can be judged on how it treats its animals. Yes, many of us want to eat meat. But we must raise these creatures with respect, and give them dignity and time with their young. At least indigenous cultures like Native American Indians offered thanks to the spirit of the animal they had just killed for food. We, the so-called civilized nations of the world, are barbaric in comparison.

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