An animal welfare advocate’s Christmas wish

When Martha Stewart’s e-mail asks, “Didn’t think Christmas could get any better?” I wonder what planet she’s on. Unlike Martha, whose career is filled with the joys of crafting and cooking, very little of what I do brings me any joy or happiness.

I cannot remember a day that has not been weighted down with the burden and the sadness that comes with what I do: Keeping an eye on the way animals are fed in America and how their food is made. It is a service that the federal government can’t and won’t do, it’s a job no one wants, and most abandon.

Before I started doing what I do, I never thought about where all the animal products came from, just that they were there folded neatly on shelves, made into beautiful objects, filled boxes, wrapped in plastic and cardboard. Nothing about those inanimate objects gave me a glimpse of the life that had been taken for those products to exist.

Today, I cannot shop in a store without being haunted by the images of unspeakable cruelty that animals suffer at the hands of humans or feel the crushing sorrow while passing row after row of products that line the shelves, hang from coat hangers, fill milk cartons, line egg cartons; their flesh bleached and tanned, sliced and ground, dried and smoked, their remains lie bloody behind the butchers counter.

And it’s not just in one store; it’s in every store, where the remains of lives of millions upon millions of animals line the shelves of every single store in America, and indeed, the world.

Million of animals are raised for our consumption in dark, filthy, pestilent barns, where they live in cages, fetid with the smell of death and lying in their own waste, unable to move, escape or see sunlight or feel the warmth of a kind voice or loving gesture. They live like this so we can consume their meat, wear their skin, and drink their milk.

So much of what I do is measured by the difference I hope I am making, but the reality is that what I do will not change the world, nor stop the suffering. And life, as we know it, will continue as it has and little will change.

Incremental changes are not enough for me, but what hope do I have that real change will ever take place in my lifetime.

None.

When I read that the Food and Drug Administration will continue to allow waste in animal food, and have left animal food out of the proposed regulation protecting food from intentional adulteration, I feel despair.

When I read about the lives of animals in factory farms, the conditions, the food they are fed, I feel sick.

I wonder how other, normal, people live, and enjoy weekends and holidays. For me Christmas will not be spent with friends or family, but with my computer and my family of cats, because I cannot forget the horrors I have seen.

I cannot enjoy myself while so many animals suffer, because I suffer with them and for them. But my life, as sad as it is, is nothing compared to the horror that farm animals suffer every single day of their lives.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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