I have read 1984 by George Orwell three times, maybe four. He wrote it in the post-Second World War period and at the time of the ideological conflict between the US and USSR, known as the Cold War or the “peace without peace”. It is an uncannily prescient novel, we even use some of its concepts in our everyday language: Big Brother, Room 101, thoughtcrime, doublethink. (And judging by the number of ads on the telly for bingo and betting, and the amount of media sports coverage, perhaps he was also onto something sinister there too – see quote here.)
Doublethink is a compound word that has “two mutually contradictory meanings”. Oxford Dictionaries gives us this definition: “the acceptance of contrary opinions or beliefs at the same time, especially as a result of political indoctrination”. I would like to propose that FactoryFarm is just such a word or concept. According to the same dictionary a factory is “a building or group of buildings where goods are manufactured or assembled chiefly by machine” and a farm is “an area of land and its buildings, used for growing crops and rearing animals”. For a factory farm, we could substitute the manufacture of goods for the manufacture of bacon, chops, medallions, spare ribs, wings, nuggets, etc since factory farming does not typically view the animal as a sentient creature in its own right but as the sum of its marketable parts, and certainly expendable when it becomes non-productive.
This leads me back to the emergence of ethical farms and how they sit with my dietary choices. Do I feel OK about animals husbanded with compassion just so that I can eat products made from the milk they would produce for their offspring? More and more this vegan enquiry is asking me to chew over (pun intended) the cultural norms relating to food and eating that I have grown up with. Just because we have always eaten a certain way doesn’t make it right or best for us. I am glad of these questions and reflections. As Winston Smith says, all that you can really say is your own “is the few cubic centimetres inside your skull”,and this is to be cherished as the place where discriminating and informative choices can be made
Image source – I have always found these kinds of diagrams particularly offensive (although no offence is meant to the artist who created this one).