Don’t let animal rights protestors tell you what to eat or not to eat

Everyone has a right to their opinion. The First Amendment guarantees it, and we support it wholeheartedly. But that doesn’t mean we have to agree with it nor the wars waged on behalf of that opinion, oftentimes at the expense of hard-working people just trying to do their job.

Such is the case with so-called “vigils” being held by the North Carolina Farmed Animal Save (NCFAS), a nonprofit organization that is part of the much larger Save Movement.

Their mission, according to a handful of people who carried signs and marched outside of Clinton’s Smithfield Processing Plant Monday, is to “bear witness to animals who are involved in animal agriculture” and to share information with the public about what they believe is going on inside the plants as it pertains to the slaughter of animals.

To the sign-toting protestors, what happens inside Smithfield and other processing plants is cruel and should be stopped. In fact, they are imploring consumers to stop buying and eating pork altogether, viewing the fact that you eat the meat as your support of the killing of animals.

But they are so passionate about the protest, they plan to keep coming back to our area, keep toting signs and keep urging all of us meat eaters to stop doing so.

They are wrong on so many levels, not the least of which is their assumption that consumers care what this group or any other animal rights groups think about what they eat. In most cases, people in Sampson County and beyond believe it’s none of their business.

We certainly agree.

Don’t misunderstand. We love animals and we don’t want to see them abused in any way. But there is a difference between the animal that sleeps at your feet each night and those used, as they have been since the beginning of time, as the food that nourishes your family and the farmers who help to ensure you and your family are fed.

Unfortunately, there is no pretty way to kill animals that will wind up on your dinner table. Should they be treated inhumanely in that process? No. But no one should be fooled into thinking there is a magic formula that lands that bacon or those pork chops on your plate.

Smithfield, Butterball and others are among the conduits by which supper gets on tables across the country and the world. We do not believe, as animal activitists would like to convince you, they nor farmers set out each day to unduly harm any animal. They merely set out to provide the food that consumers demand.

Protestors, holding signs with the eyes of pigs peeping through a cage and exclamations like “She wanted to live” scrawled across them are trying to appeal to your emotions, hoping to pit you against your friends, neighbors and the hard-working farmers we all too often take for granted.

The activists have both a right to protest and a right to voice their opinions, just as farmers have a right to produce animals that will feed families and industry has a right to produce products from those animals. And every person has a right to decide for themselves whether they want to eat pork or not. No one else should decide that for you.

One of the protesters was quoted in The Sampson Independent as saying “They (consumers) can make informed decisions when they go to the grocery store. What we’d like to see is them boycotting animal products because of the cruelties involved in the industry.”

They are right on one count — consumers can make informed decisions. What’s more, consumers don’t have to give in to animal rights activists. They can think for themselves and act accordingly, much as Dominoes did recently when they refused to give in to PETA requests. According to news reports, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) proposed Domino’s add vegan cheese and meat to its topping options. Its shareholders refused, citing consumer demand as the reason they choose to add items to their menu, not pressure from outside groups.

Instead of listening to a handful of activists, do as you feel led. Eat pork, support farmers and ignore the protests. We certainly do.