Many who speak of "humane" meat are really referring to the conditions under which animals are raised—not killed. And there's a big difference. When their bodies are fat enough for the dinner table, spent and overused from producing eggs and milk, and no longer useful in the way they were meant to be, as in the case of male studs on dairy farms, animals from both conventional and "humane" farms are all transported (first to the feedlot in the case of "beef cattle") to the slaughterhouse. The transportation process is excruciating and often fatal. The only law designed to "protect" animals in transport does not pertain to 95% of the animals killed for human consumption, as birds and rabbits (all classified as "poultry" are not protected). As a result, in transport, animals are forced to endure oppressive heat, bitter cold, stress, overcrowding, and respiratory problems from ammonia-laden urine.
Regardless of how they're raised, all animals killed for the refrigerated aisles of the grocery store are sent to mechanized slaughterhouses where their lives are brutally ended. By law, animals must be slaughtered at USDA-certified facilities, where horrific acts of cruelty occur on a daily basis. Everyone from federal meat inspectors to slaughterhouse workers have admitted to routinely witnessing the strangling, beating, scalding, skinning, and butchering of live, fully conscious animals. At small farms, where the owners can kill the animals themselves (in the case of birds), every one of them will tell you that, though it was hard in the beginning to slit the throat of the animals, it gets easier after awhile. I don't believe anyone would agree that it's healthy to detach and compartmentalize our emotions and become desensitized to violence and suffering. Compassionate people all have the same goal: the elimination of oppression, exploitation, and violence. Abuse, violence, cruelty -- they all spring from the same source, and they all have the same effect -- more abuse, more violence, more cruelty. The link between cruelty to animals and violence toward people has been well established
When we tell ourselves we're eating meat from "humanely raised animals," we're leaving out a huge part of the equation. The slaughtering of an animal is a bloody and violent act, and death does not come easy for those who want to live.