Why Big Meat Has an Ugly Human Rights Problem
The meat industry is associated with animal rights violations, environmental damage, and health risks. But it’s also rife with human rights issues.
In Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, published in 1905, a young man called Jurgis Rudkis immigrates to Chicago from Lithuania. He’s excited about his new life, he marries, uses credit to buy a house, and gets a job in a local meat packing firm. But soon he learns the grim reality of shoveling animal guts for a living. Workers are exploited, pushed to work all the hours under the sun and paid the bare minimum, and struggle with diseases and injuries in unsanitary conditions.
Rudkis himself was fictional, but his experiences were real, based on Sinclair’s own observations of the meat industry. And unfortunately, they’re not exclusive to the meatpacking world that existed in the 1900s. Today, the meat industry is not just associated with environmental and animal rights issues, but it’s rife with human rights abuses, too.
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