Agriculture: for the long term good of your business, quit the baby talk. No, you’re not cooing and you’re not making goo-goo gah-gah sounds. You’re doing something much worse. You’re calling young livestock “babies.”
When I hear a person of agriculture use human terms while referring to meat animals, it grates on me like two adolescent lovers spewing sappy gibberish at prom.
Young meat animals are not babies. They’re calves, chicks, piglets, poults and lambs. Only humans have babies. Goats come close; they have kids.
Centuries ago, people domesticated and developed livestock for the efficient production of protein. Soon after that, people developed specific terminology for livestock. Now would you please respect our accomplishment as the top species on the food chain and keep a separation between what we eat and what we are!
I know. It’s easier to explain farm stuff to our suburban brethren using human terms. PETA and the Humane Society of the United States have discovered this, too. These radical animal rights groups know that while 98 percent of the population eats meat, only a fraction of 1 percent raise those animals that end up on the dinner table.
So what do the animal activists do? They humanize livestock to create guilt among the non- farming populace.
Guilt is a powerful motivator in the land of plenty. Feeling bad for the starving kids in Africa is how mothers used to convince finicky kids to eat. Now animal activists want us to feel bad for stealing the “baby” cow’s milk from the “mommy” cow. Guilty for eating those delicious barbecued wings harvested from “baby” chickens.
To anti- meat crusaders, there is no food chain. They believe animals are the same as us. You and I know this to be false. Animals are furry, possess smaller brains and are generally delicious if cooked properly.
Humans are omnivorous by nature. We’re programmed to eat — even crave — animal protein. That’s why the vegetable-only crowd humanizes meat animals. You wouldn’t eat your co-worker, Bob, so why would you eat Wilbur the pig?
Answer: because Wilbur the pig is delicious.
The process of assigning human traits to animals is called anthropomorphism. It happens a lot in entertainment but it’s unacceptable when we in the business of food production do it. Talking cows, clothed chickens and smiling pigs have no place in food commercials.
It’s not just a media perpetuated problem either. Last year I was touring a hog educational facility, the walls in the nursery were decorated with children’s building blocks. Think the tourist from suburbia doesn’t subliminally equate “baby” pigs to his or her own children whose nursery is decorated with building blocks?
So what’s a good agriculturalist to do? Stop the baby talk and use animal-specific dialogue when talking about the business of food production.
When you’re doing ag outreach with school kids, don’t call farm animals “brothers and sisters.” People have brothers and sisters, animals have litter mates. Or twins. Or they share the same dam or sire — farm animals don’t have mommies and daddies! Stop painting a fairy tale and start telling a real farm story. We produce animals for human consumption. We treat these animals humanely, but not humanly.
The goal of the Humane Society of the United States is a world without meat, milk, eggs, leather or wool. PETA doesn’t really want “ethical” treatment of farm animals, they want there to be NO farm animals.
Their mantra, “meat is murder,” equates butchering animals to taking human life.
You think that’s crazy. But when you use words like “brother, sister, mommy, daddy and baby” to describe livestock, you’re doing the same thing. That’s why I’m asking you, for the good of agriculture and the non-vegan 98 percent, stop the baby talk.
Damian Mason is an agriculturalist, keynote speaker and well-nourished consumer of meat, milk and eggs. Find him at www.damianmason.com