Meridith Kaufman, Asst. Opinion Editor

Personally, I love eating meat. I am a full-on carnivore and I love it. But the more I discover about the process of how that slab of beef gets in front of me, the more I want to just stop listening.

In December, I made myself listen. I went to a book reading by Jonathan Safran Foer about his book, Eating Animals. I haphazardly did not review what his new book was about; I just knew I liked his older fiction books and I liked him as an author, so I went.

What I got was a lecture on how not only was I completely harming animals by supporting the farming industry as it is now, but that I was killing the Earth as well. Needless to say, I left before I could choke down a vegetarian brownie.

After I gained a little bit of my ego back I made myself listen and learn about the mass production of meat in the United States of America.

Most of the meat we eat in America is produced by factory farming. Factory farming is when animals are born and raised to produce their meat, milk and eggs for consumption.

This is done at the lowest cost possible, which means that the animals need pesticides and antibiotics because they are not able to grow correctly from being in such confined spaces with their own kind.

There are three main issues with factory farming: the harm done to the animals, the harm done to the environment and the health risks associated with the mass production of animals.

The harm done to the animals was always an issue I pushed aside because either way the animal was going to be hurt because I was going to eat them or a product of them. Selfish? Yes, but realistic. To be a little graphic, the picture that hit home with me was that a female cow would be kept pregnant so she would produce milk. Then she would produce baby calves, which would then be killed for veal.

And then the process would continue most likely for four and a half years until they die. That is a sad life to live. But most of you, and I, will enjoy the milk that is produced that way, without considering where it came from as we pick up a gallon from the grocery store freezer.

You may ask, “Harm to the environment? What does that have to do with farming?”

Well, consider how many cows would be in one large factory farm — let’s say about 2,000 cows.

How much food would they need? Now how much food would the factory farms across the nation need? In the end, the number is going to be produced through very extensive and intensive methods of land use and crop production.

Then when the cows, pigs and other animals must dispose of their food out the other end, they don’t have room except for underneath them. The urine and fecal matter create methane in the air.

But a little methane is fine, right? Well all of the methane emitted by the factory farms across the nation is not a little. It is a lot. And it is hurting our ecosystems because it’s not being filtered through the land and used again. It is just being used as waste so it doesn’t fertilize anything like it is meant to.

We have all heard the debates over the past few years about why animals are given antibiotics. It is so they are healthy and can survive in a 6×6 foot crate with four other animals. It produces more resistant strains of diseases and sicknesses. The animals won’t be able to survive without antibiotics and supplements.

Can you imagine cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys or any other animal product we can buy, not being able to survive without antibiotics in them? Well, that is quickly becoming a reality­­.

Either way, we all know that these conditions are hideous and disgusting. We all know that we would never go visit a factory farm.

Heck, none of us would be allowed into a factory farm.

So, why do we keep eating meat? Well, sadly, because it tastes good.