MEAT and Fear

Science is proving that animals have feelings and react to the terror ahead as each of the animals are transported to the slaughterhouse where all are killed, cut up and processed for food. This means that using them as a food source is also inducing the emotions that they are experiencing at death row, too. 

Even dairy provides a level of sadness in the milk, butter and cheese because of the immense emotional pain that a mother cow experiences when her young are brutally taken away and she is left to a machine for harvesting the overflowing tits filled with milk. 

Somehow, humans have become numb to the emotional reactions of animals, especially those who raise them for income and crave the taste of their flesh as food. Truly, humans and their senses are a product of their habits and their environment, which fosters their likes and dislikes, as well as lifestyle habits.

At least, not if she wants you to taste good. That’s because when animals (and presumably humans) have been frightened or stressed out before death, it actually affects the quality of their meat.

The scientific basis for the phenomenon is well-established, and it’s frequently been discussed as a reason to make slaughterhouse practices more humane. The key ingredient here is lactic acid: in an unstressed animal, after death, muscle glycogen is converted into lactic acid, which helps keep meat tender, pink, and flavorful. Adrenaline released by stress before slaughter uses up glycogen, which means there’s not enough lactic acid produced postmortem. This affects different kind of meat in different ways, but in general it’ll be tough, tasteless, and high in pH, and will go bad quicker than unstressed meat. (Lactic acid helps slow the growth of spoilage bacteria.)

In pigs, stress and fear of all kinds right before slaughter—due to factors like rough handling, adverse conditions, fighting, or botched stunning—breaks down glycogen, making the meat pale, acidic, and crumbly. The technical name for this is “pale soft exudative” (PSE) meat, and it looks and tastes as unappetizing as it sounds. PSE meat is usually unsellable, and the pork industry loses $275 million a year on meat that has to be discarded because of pre-slaughter fear and stress. That’s a huge chunk of change but it’s not quite enough to spur large industrial farms to give their pigs a calmer, safer death. Because so much pork is sold as ground meat, according to theAtlantic, some of the lower-quality PSE meat can be snuck in without consumers noticing, so its effect on profits isn’t nearly as high as the costs of improving conditions across the board.

For cattle and sheep, and occasionally pigs and turkeys, the bigger concern is “dark, firm, and dry” (DFD) meat. This is also caused by pre-slaughter fear and stress depleting muscle glycogen. DFD meat is tough, dry, acidic, and dark in color; like PSE meat, it has a shorter shelf life, too.

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