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October 2006
Still Stuck in the Meatrix
By Sangamithra Iyer

 

Two years ago, I fell in love with Moopheus, the wise, informative bovine guru in the flash animation short The Meatrix, which dared viewers to take the red pill and learn the truth about where their meat and animal products come from. Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) worked with Free Range Graphics to put together this informative cartoon spoof of the sci-fi movie The Matrix. GRACE’s factory farm project is geared toward shutting down concentrated animal feeding operations and empowering and supporting communities and local farmers. The Meatrix ends with a link to their “Eat Well” guide to sustainable meat, eggs and dairy. While not the vegan message I was hoping for, the animation alone exposing the social, environmental and animal cruelty problems affiliated with factory farms could turn people off of animal products entirely.

This spring, the Meatrix II: Revolting came out, focusing on dairy products. I’m a sucker for the dairy cows, so any attention brought to their plight is appreciated. But something about this sequel left me feeling unsettled.

In the opening scene, Moopheus explains how in the past two years, 10 million minds were freed from the Meatrix, showing customers buying “grass-fed” meat, “pasture raised” eggs and “organic” milk. My initial response was to ask, but were any lives freed?

Moopheus brings viewers to the modern day dairy factory, shedding light on the confinement, the poop, antibiotic overuse, and artificial hormones dairy cows are subject to. It shows the babies being separated from their mothers and fed cow blood, indicating the potential for mad cow disease. But it ends with the feeble message, “There are still small family farms where you can get your dairy. Together we can stop the Meatrix.”

Is this what my beloved Moopheus wants? I understand that GRACE promotes smaller agriculture, and I recognize large-scale operations are often exponentially worse for animals, people and the environment than small-scale ones. However, we must recognize the reason we eat and drink as many animal products as we do is because of factory farming. If we want to combat factory farms, we must reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products, not merely replace them with “more sustainable” alternatives.

We must also look more deeply into what “sustainable” really means. The Meatrix II failed to mention the forced and repeated impregnation of dairy cows, the use of “rape racks,” and the keeping of male studs. While it showed the young separated from their mothers, it didn’t identify them as veal. It neglects to report that at the end of her short, exploited life, the dairy cow will also be slaughtered for meat. Perhaps these horrors were omitted because they remain true for small operations as well as the big factories.

In the opening scene, organic milk was identified as a “sustainable” choice made by “freed minds,” but the Meatrix II ignores the fact that Horizon and Aurora, the country’s biggest organic dairies, run their operations just like factory farms, with intensification, feedlots and vast pollution.

There has been an awakening over the past several years about the horrors of industrial animal agriculture. People want to reject the abuse and not fill their bodies with pesticides and antibiotics. They are seeking more animal-and eco-friendly labels. But if we stop there, never really questioning our meat, egg and dairy consumption, and never really looking at the faces at the source of our meals, no matter how “humanely” or “sustainably” raised, aren’t we just taking a different blue pill?

The truth is, so long as we continue eating meat and other animal products, we keep ourselves and the animals trapped in the meatrix.
I, for one, would rather stay true to Moopheus and his sister cows and wash my red pill down with a frosty vegan milkshake.

To view the Meatrix II, visit www.meatrix2.com.

 


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