Some things that were socially acceptable or unacceptable 100 years ago are just freakin’ weird now-a-days. And 200 years ago there were even weirder societal norms. For instance, in 1804 Aaron Burr, the sitting vice president, killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. A duel! They did that back then. Nowadays that would never happen. Could you imagine CNN reporting that Joe Biden shot and killed Paul Ryan? Wolf Blitzer would literally explode from excitement.

But even our era, as modern as we think we are, is not a finite example of rational truth manifested in social norms. Not even close. People will look back at us 100 years from now and do the same thing we do when we look back to 1912 and a generation even further down the line will say the same about them and so on. As time passes, the blob of society moves all around. It takes everyone with it. Even you. It really doesn’t matter how enlightened you are. The unspoken rules of whatever era you are born in are clear and religiously adhered to.

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We are all, from the moment of birth, herded into a fenced-off area. There is much more in the field of life. It is vast. It has different views of the sunrise and different views of the sunset and tons of different types of fruit. But humanity is relegated to a self-enforced fenced off area. You can jump over the fence. Go ahead, it’s not that high. But you will be alone. Alone in a place where the only talk of that place is negative.

Our world, no matter what era, will always be full of cold, hard, facts that paradoxically, might be considered to be the antithesis of factual just decades prior, or decades later. One cold hard fact that I think will, in a hundred years or so, be considered to be the antithesis of factual is the disconnect between the meat we eat and the live beings that our meat once was.

I’m talking about factory farming.

Factory farming is the one thing that I’m sure future generations of Americans will look back at and say, “Really?!” Sure, there are other things: we work way too hard, our school system puts way too little emphasis on arts, gay people can’t get married, and Fox News exists. But factory farming is, to me, the most blatant example of social acceptability running perpendicular to the underlying eternal truths of life.

Let me try to prove it to you. Imagine this: in your apartment there are ten chickens, one cow, and one pig all in tight cages. To make sure I am being fair with the hypothetical, let’s say they don’t smell at all, and they don’t even make noise. Imagine, that you have to walk by them every day. They are not in the cellar. They are not in the attic. Heck, let’s say they are in your living room. Picture those 12 cages right now. Go ahead. Close your eyes if you have to. While you’re watching your favorite show, or making dinner, five feet away twelve animals are fighting for a way to be comfortable and happy in a space that they can barely stand up in.

Now, imagine that every year you have to kill all ten chickens (because the average American eats about ten chickens a year), every ten years you have to kill the cow (because the average American eats about one cow every ten years), and every three years you have to kill the pig (because the average American eats about one pig every three years.) You can use a gun, a knife, whatever. But you have to kill the animal. No one else. By the way, those stats are all from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

My guess is that this seems hard for you. Because it is. It’s supposed to be. You’re taking a life away. However, it is socially acceptable to neglect these thoughts; to neglect what were eating and how it was raised. Notice I didn’t say suppress. I said neglect. We eat dead animals and don’t even think about where it came from. We just let it happen, because everyone else does.

I will eat an animal under three conditions. One, I kill it myself. Two, I have made a bond with the animal; learned its personality, like a pet. And three, if I am ever down on my luck and someone is kind enough to give me meat to eat. In the United States alone, ridiculous things have been socially acceptable: owning a slave, police murdering strikers, fighting against women’s suffrage, rigging elections, segregating schools based on race, drinking and driving, and tons of other stuff. But we rose up against all that.

It is so damn comfortable to ensconce ourselves into the warm arms of our era’s social acceptability, but we need to reject the embrace and realize there is real truth to life somewhere, buried under the layers of confusion. And it’s usually not what everyone else is doing.


Dylan Morrill can be contacted at



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