Temple Grandin: General thoughts on food animals

I recently finished Animals Make Us Human, by Temple Grandin. She discusses what different types of animals need to be happy, and how to improve the living conditions of pets, livestock, zoo animals, and wildlife. Below are some of her thoughts on livestock, and the system in general. Read specific cow thoughts here, pig thoughts here, and poultry thoughts here. Grandin’s research and studies show that simple changes to industrial animal farming can go a long way in improving the welfare of food animals. We, as consumers, need to push the industry, via dollars and votes, to make these simple changes.

  • The most important thing an effective manager needs to do to stay on top of his own behavior is to guard against desensitization to the animals’ fear and pain… A manager in a distant corporate office is too far removed to care about the animals, but a person working in the trenches can get desensitized, or habituated, to suffering… The first thing an effective manager must do to take care of the animals is get rid of employees who are bullies. (p. 191)
  • Transparency has a power psychological effect because people and animals behave differently when they know someone is watching. (p. 229)
  • From the very beginning of my career I saw that cattle could be raised right and given a good life and a painless death. (p. 296)
  • …Our relationship with the animals we use for food must be symbiotic. Symbiosis is a mutually beneficial relationship between two different living things. (p. 297)
  • People forget that nature can be very harsh, and death in the wild is often more painful and stressful than death in a modern plant. (p. 297)
  • I am very concerned that programs around the world to convert grain into fuel will increase the intensification of animal agriculture… There is a lot of land where raising crops will increase soil erosion and damage the environment. Grazing animals is the best use for this land, and they help keep the land healthy. (p. 298)
  • Since people are responsible for breeding and raising farm animals, they must also take the responsibility to give the animals living conditions that provide a decent life and a painless death. (p. 300)
  • I think the most important thing for an animal is the quality of its life. A good life requires three things: health, freedom from pain and negative emotions, and lots of activities to turn on SEEKING and PLAY. (p. 301)
  • When I read all the scientific evidence about electrical stimulation of subcortical brain systems, the only logical conclusion was that the basic emotion systems are similar in humans and all other mammals. (p. 301)

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