The pigs were crammed in; moving, squealing, eating, shitting - these animals didn't have the luxury of outdoor exercise or daylight. This barn (more like a warehouse in fact) was home for now. Locals told us the farm contained 13,000 pigs, and was an intensive piglet "nursery", where young animals were brought from breeding establishments elsewhere to fatten up before being dispatched to the slaughterhouse and people's dinner plates.
We all know the reality: that humans' inhumanity and gratuitous disdain towards the animals in our control will continue. Nevertheless, when petitions are signed and a little more thought is given to what we eat, wear, use for medicine, the number of animals that are forced to suffer so dreadfully might be just a little smaller.
'Cultured beef', 'shamburgers', laboratory meat. Those who are put off the idea of eating meat that has been processed from the stem cells of an animal and developed in a laboratory say its unnaturalness is the principle reason for their distaste. But when animals are reared intensively for meat that is hardly more natural.
The recent laboratory development of an in-vitro beef burger created from stem cells is causing quite a buzz amongst consumers. Most people's first reaction is one of disgust and trepidation. And then the many questions: how can I eat meat that was grown in a lab made possible only by human engineering?
In the last several years the European Union has implemented bans on many inhumane practices of confining farm animals. Key measures included ending lifelong confinement of breeding pigs in sow crates as well as ending the use of conventional battery cages for confining egg-laying hens and the use of veal crates for restraining baby cows.
It's a simple word, but these four letters quite literally mean the world to us. Everywhere you look, food (or the absence of it) is a defining feature of society. Food fuels us, sells products, titillates and amuses, provides social cohesion, stimulates endless foodie conversations and raises the 'celebrity chef' to an almost god-like status. A lack of food fuels hunger, poverty and even war.
Thanks to the horse meat scandal tons of processed meat products are being removed from supermarket cabinets. The waste is huge. But the meat industry usually strives to avoid waste. Any part of an animal that can possibly be used for human consumption is made fit to eat, right down to the stripping of bones.
Fighting bulls are selected for their aggressive spirit. Like racehorses bred for the track they are highly prized and their welfare is paramount. Beef cattle, on the other hand, are bred and reared purely for meat. Only a very small proportion are kept for breeding - nearly all bull calves are castrated.