The Pyramid of Life

Following on from my article, ‘The Circle of Life’, I’d like to draw attention to a documentary which, if it were possible (for me), would personify everything I feel about the treatment and complete disregard humanity have for animal-kind.

The documentary ‘Earthlings’ is narrated by acclaimed actor Joaquin Phoenix. Earthlings is extremely graphic. Although I think every meat-consumer should watch this, I realise, after all, that ignorance is bliss. As a side-note, I couldn’t hold higher esteem for an actor willing to do such a documentary.

In the article I posted some time ago, I highlighted the different views we have towards animals in regard to size and companionship. In this article, and through watching Earthlings, I would like to highlight the ignorance most of us have as to where our food comes from, how it is treated and the utter contempt, as a species, we show to both nature and animals.

A problem within humanity is the air of dominance we quite often possess. It is commonly seen that we cannot treat each other as equals – let alone animals – and that is where we seriously err. Animals, including fish, may not be anywhere near the same intellectual level as we are; yet they have feelings, and they feel suffering and pain. This is particularly exemplified by the despicable way that we, as a species, participate in blood-sports.

All too often, blood-sports are justified by the word ‘tradition’. This is to say, it’s not a barbaric sport but a cultural activity. As ridiculous as that sounds, many people fight to keep these blood-sports alive under this ruse, as we have seen with fox-hunting in England in recent years; though, of course, it has not stopped. Tradition is an essential aspect in many areas of life, though, to evolve, tradition must be pruned. I cannot think of a finer example to consign to the history books.

Here are some examples of a few of these ‘sports’:

Fox-hunting, bear-hunting, deer-hunting, cock-fighting, bull-fighting, dog-fighting, hyena-fighting, cricket-fighting, spider-fighting and rat-fighting, amongst many more.

All of these sports have one thing in common; they are for the entertainment of human beings – and often have financial interests, as seen with betting rings. They all usually end with an animal being killed, usually in great suffering and pain, and with no chance of survival from the start.  I find it quite amazing that such practices are still carried out and justified. It is one of the worst examples of savagery on Earth.

The farming of animals can draw comparisons to the holocaust in many ways. This is especially apparent in beef, chicken and pork farming around the world. In the worst conditions, the animals are often cooped up in an incredibly small area, with limited movement, and forced to live in their own faeces. The restriction of movement often cause deficiencies in the growth of muscles, which can incapacitate and seriously deform the animal. Transport of these animals is much the same. The animals are so tightly packed into transports, without food or water, that many die en-route; albeit, usually, en-route to slaughter. Some animals are quite literally worked to death, which can be seen with the milking cow. As seen in the documentary, a milking cow can live past 20 years. It averages 2 to 3. After being worked to exhaustion, the cow is slaughtered and sold as cheap meat.

The slaughter process is heart-rending. Perhaps the most common way to slaughter an animal for meat is the throat being slit, whilst the animal is hoisted upside-down. This ‘bleeds’ the animal. Quite often the blood is collected in urns as the animal experiences its last few moments. Sometimes the oesophagus is also ripped through, which both makes the animal bleed faster and drowns the animal in its own blood. The most distressing part of this process is that the animal is still alive and often conscious. This ensures the last moments the animal experiences on this Earth are in extreme fear, pain, stress, and suffering. This is after the pitiful existence it was afforded by us. In a lot of cases, this is done in front of their kin. In the worst cases, animals can be clubbed, burnt and beaten to death by the few sadistic beings among us who are allowed to work in slaughterhouses.

Let me point out, these are not the conditions in every slaughterhouse, animals are often rendered unconscious before the slaughtering process. Whether the process is actually ‘humane’ is a matter for your own opinion.

Though a comparison to the holocaust may seem quite shocking and perhaps an over-exaggeration; to me, I think not. Looking into the subject, and watching the brilliant Earthlings, it doesn’t give you much faith in Humanity. To not contemplate animals as equals to ourselves does both them and us a grave injustice. The conditions and plight of these animals is simply an abomination, and an abomination that needs to be addressed.

After-all, are animals not man’s best friend?


13 responses to this post.

  1. Nice piece, elegantly articulated.


  2. Wonderful article – I wish it could be made compulsory in schools! The documentary is well deserving of all the accolades it has received – and Joachin Phoenix is one of my favourite actors. I have heard it said that if we visited an abattoir many of us would give up eating meat – and I don’t doubt it. Well done, Mike!


  3. I thought he was absolutely brilliant in that documentary. I can certainly see why I’ve heard a lot of people have given up meat since watching it.

    Thanks very much, Denise! Appreciate your com(pli)ment!


  4. Love this! I got a dog out of a shelter in Virginia in 2001, when Mike Vick’s repulsive dog-fighting ring was going on. I can’t bring myself to think of what might have happened to him otherwise since Vick’s goons were even getting dogs from shelters to use as sacrificial “sparring partners” to keep their fighting dogs “in form”. I love all animals very much. This documentary would open a lot of eyes and minds.

    (Feel free to edit out everything from this point down since I’m not trying to be a spammer, I just thought you might get a kick out of this opinion/angry comedy piece I wrote when Vick got named the starter by the Philadelphia Eagles. I use Charles Manson as the stand-in but everyone got the point. Here is the link:

    Like I said, edit it out if you like but I wanted you to see it)


  5. Good to hear! I’m English, so am not familiar with Mick Vick and his NFL career, but have just read about his dog-fighting involvement.

    Great article, very tongue-in-cheek and amusing without knowing the characters involved!


  6. Thanks for the kind words! I’m looking forward to reading more of your philosophy. I like reading something with a point of view.


  7. Posted by boatacrosstheriver on June 2, 2011 at 03:00

    Hey there! Just saw that you wrote this post, and I’m glad I checked in on you. Very well written. I am in complete agreement with you. I don’t know if I will be able to watch the doc. (as you say herat-rending) but am already a vegetarian. Maybe I could show it to my students. I wonder what it is rated. I might get some parent calls about it though! Have you already started the math program?


    • Hiya, nice to hear from you! How’s life? I’m not so sure it would be a good idea to show it to your students; it’s extremely graphic. More than a couple of parents would complain, I think! Just finishing my diploma at the moment and starting a maths degree in September. Looking forward to it!


      • Posted by boatacrosstheriver on June 4, 2011 at 17:29

        I thought you had not yet started, but couldn’t remember…thanks for the tip on the doc.! Sadly most of their parents don’t really care what they do, but I think I will skip it and look for something a little less graphic.

      • There’s another one in a similar vein called The Cove. I can’t remember too much of it, but it was to do with the killing of dolphins in Japan, I think. Not graphic as I remember, and quite a cool little story to go with it. Students might like that?

  8. Posted by boatacrosstheriver on June 7, 2011 at 04:02

    Good suggestion. I could never breing myself to watch it either, but I will this summer as you say it might work for the high school kids. I do want to find something to get them thinking about animals differently…I’ll have them write about it to tie in the English!


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