Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sausages in Calgary

As I was puttering around the apartment this morning, the guy on the radio casually mentioned a few food facts about the upcoming Calgary Stampede.
A few of the things he mentioned are the following: During the traditional pancake breakfast, the Calgary Stampede uses over two tons of bacon and sausage, and 5,000 bottles of pancake syrup.

That makes me shudder - it's been so long since I've eaten meat that contemplating it at all makes me woozy, but wow, two tons of pig! Yikes - that really freaks a veggie out, especially when you've read stuff like this.

Coincidentally, I am currently reading the No Nonsense Guide to Animal Rights, and I read through the brief part on rodeos while on the Go Train this morning. According to this book...
In modern day rodeos, tame horses and bulls are sometimes given electric shocks to get them 'bucking' or have straps squeezed around their lower abdomens to put pressure on their groin areas. Apart from this kind of discomfort, animals are sometimes seriously injured and even killed at the rodeo. A USDA meat inspector said that the rodeo horses and cows that come to slaughterhouses are so terribly bruised that there are few places where the skin is actually attached to the muscle. Animals also commonly have broken ribs and punctured lungs.

Yep. I'm sure this calf is going to look back on today and go "Yeah - good times, he jumped off a horse onto my head, plowed me into the dirt and then wrapped a rope around my feet - beats a lazy day eating grass every time."

Here's something else that I read this morning which I wasn't aware of - the horse racing industry actually funnels thousands of horses to slaughter each year. A successful racehorse has a career of about 3 years, but a lifespan of about 30 years. To save money (why feed and house a retired racing horse?) several thousand former racing horses are slaughtered each year for human and petfood consumption.
As well, less than half the foals born in the racing industry actually do any racing, because they aren't fast enough. Once again, to care for them would be a waste of money, and so around 17000 foals, in the U.S. alone, are slaughtered for the petfood industry.

The more I read, the more astounded I am not only by the way we treat animals, but how all this crap is hidden in plain sight. The radio will tell you that the Calgary Stampede is on, and that several tons of pig will be served at the rodeo, but to find out how those pigs lived their lives, and what happens to the horses and calves at the rodeo, you have to seek the information out yourself.

My little brother was done in by Alberta actually. He went veggie years ago, way before I'd thought anything about it (I think because he'd been listening to Propagandhi). Then he moved to Alberta and got tired of explaining to everyone what a vegetarian was and having Alberta Beef waved in front of his face all the time. He started eating meat again out there, but lately he's been cutting back again, I think with the intention of giving up completely.


Smudgemo said...

Let's not forget the stupid "Adopt a Greyhound" program to save racing-dog lives. How about we just don't breed and race them instead, hmmm?
Mrs Smudgemo's mom lives with us, and she probably wasn't too keen on hearing about feces in her burgers. She also likes rodeo and horse racing. I can only imagine how much she isn't going to like knowing this. I should probably spare her, but that just isn't my style.

sp said...

With the recent death of a calf at the Cloverdale rodeo here in B.C. changes have been made. While the rodeo will still occur, all roping events have been banned from future events. An article in the Vancouver Sun outlines the events dropped from the rodeo:

"Events that will be discontinued from the Cloverdale Rodeo:

Tie-down roping: A mounted cowboy lassoes a calf, throws it on its back and ties it up in the least amount of time.

Team roping: Two mounted cowboys attempt to rope and immobilize a full-grown steer in the least amount of time.

Wild cow milking: A cow is cut from the herd and roped. Two riders dismount and grab the cow around the neck/head and attempt to hold her while the last rider attempts to extract a small amount of milk from the cow's udder into a bottle.

Steer wrestling: A steer is released from a chute while a mounted cowboy chases it. The cowboy wrestles the animal to the ground by twisting its horns."

I hope this is a shift that suggests similar actions in other rodeos across the country. Unfortunately, an animal had to be cruelly treated, terrified, maimed and then killed for anything to be done.

Isn't odd that the treatment of this one calf in public view causes and outcry, but a veal calf auction is underway and nothing is done about that. When it's for "sport" and not for "food" we seem to allow ourselves different rules about cruelty towards animals.