Bred to Suffer: Paul Shapiro on Animals in Factory Farming

August 17, 2015

Happy cows and chickens grazing in pastures, we see them plastered all over our milk and egg cartons at the grocery store. While most of us realize these images are more marketing than reality, the truth about how animals are treated in factory farming is far worse than most of us imagine. It’s not even clear exactly how much better animals fare when packaging advertises things like “cage-free,” “natural” and “vegetarian-fed.”

This week on Point of Inquiry, Paul Shapiro, the vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society, is here to sort through some of the common misconceptions about the meat industry. As a former factory farm inspector, Shapiro knows first hand how normalized animal suffering has become, and how lax the regulations are that determine how animals can be treated and mistreated throughout their lives. Shapiro and host Lindsay Beyerstein sort through many of the myths and misconceptions consumers have about animal well-being, from chickens raised in “battery cages,” to meat killed according to religious tenets.

*Correction: Philosopher Peter Singer wrote in to clarify his stance on the ethics of eating different kinds of sea creatures. In his classic book, “Animal Liberation,” Singer draws a line between crustaceans and bivalves, and that’s the distinction he follows in his day-to-day life. “You may have seen me eat something with oysters or clams in it, but I’m sure it wasn’t a crab puff,” Singer wrote.