Depending on which poll or study you consult, you will find that roughly 4-8 percent of American adults consider themselves to be vegetarian. Surely the number of people who consider themselves as vegan or as an animal rights activist are far fewer than that. Indeed, the vast majority of Americans not only shy away from such a lifestyle, but many will ridicule those who choose the vegetarian way of life. Unfortunately, we all too often see the majority in this country demean the minority, whatever the minority might consist of. Animal rights activists are often regarded as irrational, as “hippies” (or some harsher variation of the word) and lately, are sometimes even regarded as terrorists.

We often hear claims about how PETA and other organizations “go too far” in their methods of criticizing animal abusers. Yet we rarely hear about how animal abusers go too far in their practices, which commonly include anal and genital electrocution, breaking animals’ necks, boiling them while they’re still alive and tugging the fur from their living and suffering bodies. This list is by no means exhaustive, and in fact barely skims the surface.

In the U.S. alone, 10 billion animals are slaughtered every year for food – this number does not include animals killed for experimentation, pleasure, sport, fur, or any of the other reasons that cause endless pain to these beings. This amounts to the slaughter of nearly 30 million animals every day in the U.S. for food alone, and these slaughterhouses are by no means humane. With over 300 animals being slaughtered every second in the US, one might wonder why most of us have never even seen a slaughterhouse, let alone the inside of one. This is because, like the concentration camps of the Holocaust, the slaughter industry conceals these deplorable places from the public eye. And with good reason, too, considering that if these operations were visible to the public, an opposition would quickly grow against their very existence. The animal industry also causes more greenhouse gas pollution to the environment than all automobiles combined, which means that cutting back on meat consumption will help the environment more than driving a Prius or riding a bike or the bus.

Slaughterhouses are not the only things concealed from the public eye. The animal products they produce are also obscured behind other names – castor, which is derived from beaver genitals and is used in perfumes; ambergris, sperm whale intestines used to flavor foods, and so forth. These uses are not isolated or rare; dozens and dozens of ingredients like these exist. Almost any type of face wash, shampoo, perfume, toothpaste, cleaner, soap – not to mention most food products – contain some kind of animal fat, bone, genitalia, etc. within them, which are often extracted through painful methods. The FDA has approved not only the cloning of animals to produce meat for sale, but now companies are not even required to divulge which of their products are cloned and which are not.

Go visit an animal research facility and you will find terrible atrocities and torture – baby monkeys with their eyes sewn shut and being subjected to loud screeching noises piped into both ears 24/7. Do a quick Google Search of “Britches University of Riverside,” “Huntington Life Science Beagles” or “Viagra animal testing” and you will find tales of the genital mutilation of puppies, researchers punching baby beagles and stomping on the heads of turkeys and so forth. These are not isolated incidences. Yet, oddly enough, you don’t ever hear about them. Anything said here can be quickly confirmed by an Internet search, or by finding any number of published documents, videos, audio recordings, and so forth. Search “animal torture” or even “animal testing” on YouTube and you are sure to find hundreds, if not thousands, of videos depicting such treatment.

If most, or even some, of these facts are new information to you, then we can, at the very least, recognize that we are not being conscientious enough about what we are putting in and on our bodies-not to mention the egregious things we as a species are doing to other species and to the environment. Given these facts, whether or not we make any changes, we should at least make the effort to become more educated about these issues so that we can be more aware of our surroundings, our world, and ourselves.

Anyone interested in animal rights issues is welcome to join the UVU Animal Allies Club. Email [email protected] or visit our blog at