Today most meat and dairy products are produced using intensive farming methods. Meat production obviously involves the slaughter of animals, which is enough for some people to give it up altogether. But on top of this, intensive farming also often results in appalling animal cruelty up until the animals are killed – being kept in crowded and filthy conditions, injuries left untreated and with no access to outdoors are all commonplace.
While opposition to the killing of animals is a common reason cited by vegetarians, it’s often overlooked that dairy production also involves slaughter. Male calves are removed from their mother at birth and killed or exported to the continent for veal production. Female calves are kept to become the next generation of milk-producers.
Since 2010 Soil Association organic standards have specified that licensees must have a plan to end the practice of culling newborn calves within five years.
Another big reason people for going veggie or vegan is to protect the environment. Vast deforestation is taking place in Latin America to make room for soy cultivation, and with 97% of the crop being grown to feed animals for meat or dairy production, not to mention methane from farm animals which contributes 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Meat production also impacts on human rights – while people in some countries are starving, one-third of the world’s grain production is being fed to farmed animals in rich countries.
Because of the demand for animal feed, a Western meat-based diet uses four and a half times more land than is necessary for a vegan diet and two and a quarter times more than for a vegetarian diet.
(Above paintings from Jane O’Hara’s Sacrifice.)
Jane O’Hara’s painted screen, entitled Sacrifice, blends the plight of animals, mindless consumerism and Western religious thought as it attires its subjects with liturgical vestments adorned with corporate logos. The painting acts as a prism which poses the existential question of whether a visit to a fast-food restaurant or circus, or purchasing items tested on animals is tantamount to a betrayal of our most sacred, biblically rooted obligation to be good stewards of the Earth and all its creatures.
O’Hara’s Sacrifice upholds this unholy alliance as sacred by virtue of the questions it invariably asks. Sacrifice holds a unique place in the annals of thought-provoking, contemporary art.