Meat Animals, Humane Standards Other Legal Fictions

… is the title of my forthcoming essay in Law, Culture & the Humanities (a special issue on Law & Food).  Get it here.

Here’s the abstract:

Law and food are distinct concepts, though the discipline (Law and Food) implies a relationship worthy of study.  The conjunction (“and”) creates meaning.  However, its absence also conveys meaning.  For example, “meat animal” suggests that animals can be both meat and animal.  This conflation has powerful legal implications.  National Meat Association v. Harris (2012) makes chillingly plain the law’s indifference to whether a meat animal is alive or dead.  This essay examines the way supposedly humane federal practices ignore the systematic brutalization of “food animals” as those animals get processed into marketable flesh.  It concludes with some observations about why this legal blindness exists.

Get it, read it, tell all your friends.

–David Cassuto

One Response

  1. I often wondered at what point a living being gets turned into a “meat” product. Where on the bleed-rail specifically do they go from being an animal to a thing? Reading your essay I can see these animals were never anything more than a product – A unit of profit…

    You really brought home the absurdity of oversight in the Humane Rhetoric section – 9,000 inspectors inspected 147,000,000 animals… Preposterous!

    “as long as the animals’ treatment does not undermine the food supply,
    it is “humane.” The law seeks not to safeguard animals prior to death but to vouchsafe that whatever they endured did not impede their smooth transition into meat.” — Exactly!

    So in hindsight, the many times when I’ve heard apologist-omnivores claim to eat only humanely “raised” meat… They aren’t as far off from the truth as what it sounds.😦

    Thank you for writing and sharing this insightful work! No conjunctions or hyphens required… In our domineering, herding culture living beings aren’t even viewed “like animals” – Very sad…

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