Christmas is meant to be a season of peace and goodwill, yet for many animals it is a time of extreme suffering and exploitation.
Slaughtered and eaten; given away as presents like disposable toys; and forced to perform silly tricks for the sake of entertainment – these are just a few of the ways in which animals suffer for our seasonal pleasure.
“There’s little sense in praying or hoping for “peace on earth” when most people making that wish are part and parcel of the most violent, least peaceful, most unjust system on the planet and in all of history. We cannot kill tens of billions of animals each year, just because we can, just because we like the way they and their secretions taste, and claim to be peaceful people seeking a peaceful world. We cannot extinguish life, just because we can, just because we have the power to, and then shake our heads at wars between humans, as if we oppose unnecessary violence. To do so makes us hypocrites. We cannot seriously claim to hope for peace while choosing violence multiple times each day.” ― Stephanie Ernst (Peace on Earth–for Pigs and Those Like Them)
Every year during the Christmas season, millions of factory farmed animals are killed and served as part of holiday meals. Tens of millions of turkeys will be killed to meet Christmas demand, along with ducks, geese, pigs, lambs and chickens. The vast majority will suffer miserable, short lives in factory farms, where the object is to mass produce and fatten them as rapidly as possible; all will endure a violent and painful slaughterhouse death.
An average of 20 piglets are born to each pig annually, and 15% of these piglets die within 2 to 3 weeks. The others are taken away from their mothers when they are less than a month old and crammed into crowded metal pens with concrete floors, where they are kept until they are deemed large enough for slaughter.
These conditions lead to stress-related behaviors, such as cannibalism and tail-biting. To prevent this, both males and females have their tails cut off, many of their teeth clipped in half, and their ears mutilated, all without any pain relief. In nature, piglets would stay with their mothers for several months.
The unloading at the slaughterhouses is as ugly as the loading. After being kept in an immobile state all their lives, their legs and lungs are so weak that the pigs can barely walk.
But when they see space ahead of them, some of them begin running for the first time in their lives, overjoyed with their first feel of freedom.
Then, suddenly, they collapse and cannot get up. They can only lie there, trying to breathe, their bodies racked with pain from abuse and neglect on the factory farms.