It's basically a PR piece for animal agribusiness.
Now I don't know Ryan Andrews, although a Google search shows that he's pretty involved in the vegan community. He's on the board of advisors for Support Vegans in the Prison System, has worked with the Vegetarian Resource Group and has a blog called "Ask Ryan" for the Vegetarian Society of Colorado.
I hesitate to criticize anyone working on behalf of animals, but the piece he wrote just boggles my mind.
He wrote about his tour of Magnum Feedyard, a feedlot in Wiggins, Colo. He calls it both a family farm and a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation -- aka "factory farm"), and I don't care what it is. Animals on family farms end up slaughtered just like those on factory farms do.
Magnum houses 22,000 cows, all of whom will eventually be killed for their flesh.
When animals arrive at Magnum, they are usually 7 – 9 months of age, and receive four days of 100% grass feed to help maintain rumen health. Cattle are normally kept on the feedlot until around 12 to 15 months of age (180-200 days on feed), during this time they gain 500 to 600 pounds.And then they're killed? Oh, did he forget to mention that? Well, he does later when he describes their quick transport to the slaughterhouse and then uses a euphemism to describe their murder.
Nearly every week, a truck picks up cattle and transports them to a meat packing plant. This is where cattle are harvested and the carcasses fabricated. It's important for the cattle to be transported quickly and calmly. The more stressed the animal, the lower quality the meat.And that's that. Nice and tidy. No mess. Quick and painless.
Andrews also packs his piece full of information and statistics that no casual visitor -- even one pretty knowledgeable about animal rights would know. He cites sources at the end of the story, but the piece is too blatantly positive to strike me as true. I question his motivation for writing it. Check out his ending.
And, I have to say it. If my experience at Magnum is representative of other cattle farms, all those accounts of the dismal, depressing, disastrous cattle conditions seem to be exaggerated.Rock on? Seriously? Hey, way to go, animal killers!
No, I'm not going to start eating meat again.
However, if I did eat meat, my visit to Magnum would have made me feel great about eating non-organic, non-grass-fed beef. Seriously. I can't imagine the quality of meat would be substantially better with organic and grass-fed. Nor can I imagine the living conditions would be substantially better for the cattle.
Now, to be clear, we don't require meat in our diet. And I don't think we should be using cows for food, doesn't matter if the cattle are kept on a feedlot or chilling in a waterbed listening to John Tesh. But that's my own value system and I'm well aware that 97% of people in the U.S. eat meat on a regular basis.
People want meat. And Magnum's feedlot system is dialed in. They're producing safe and cost-effective meat in, arguably, the most cattle-conscious way (short of opening up those pens and letting them run free). Rock on Magnum.
I hate how he basically apologizes for not eating meat. It's "my own value system"; you do whatever you want. And sure 97% of Americans eat meat, but shouldn't we be working to reduce that number? Instead he's telling meat-eaters it's ok. His being vegan lends a huge amount of credibility to animal ag -- so much so that David Martosko of the deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom and other animal exploiters are tweeting the link to Andrews' story.
Rock on, Ryan Andrews. You've done the animals a great disservice.