The most powerful, reactionary hindrances to progress regarding the animal issue are the strong, self-interested economic forces that are threatened by a reevaluation of our attitudes towards animals and the change within society that would occur once we recognise animals’ self-worth and grant them core protective rights.
Of course, humans have used animals and ignored their rights for thousands of years – however the issue took a sinister, explosive turn following the industrial revolution. Not only was the scale of animal incarceration and exploitation magnified by many scales, but the increased organisational, business-like way in which profit and mass exploitation of farm animals and breeding bode poorly for the welfare of animals in general, which has been further compounded by the huge increase in the number of animals under human influence, as well as the increased consumption of meat, both in the quantity where animal products had historically been consumed, and in the increased consumtion in areas geographically that had relatively small meat consumption, in Asia in particular. Decreased welfare is one crime, however coupled with a momental increase in the number of animals suffering, the scale of suffering and torment reached an unimaginably high degree.
As the number of animals increased, so did the profit. This growth only encouraged more growth and we now find ourselves in a society where the economic self-interest has become so great that it makes educating people very difficult indeed, as we are given conflicting truths on the animal issue: one based on morality and science, the other based on money, tradition and self-interest.
According to the American Meat Institute (AMI), in 2012 the meat and poultry industry’s economic ripple effect generates $864.2 billion annually to the U.S. economy, approximately 6% of the entire GDP. The meat industry is an incredibly mobilised and powerful force preventing change – the pressure exerted on dietary recommendations is so great that most large food and dietary bodies still maintain that meat is essential to a healthy diet, whilst downplaying the health, environmental and ethical problems associated with meat consumption. Until the general public is adequately educated about the issues of consuming animals the situation is not going to change.