Kylteri 02/23

The Economics of Killing

Psst! You can find tables linked to the op-ed from the digital magazine, pages 28-29.

”Just another work phase.”

That's how a Finnish fur farmer used a casual Instagram Story to describe a part of the process where a negligible element of the resource material is removed to create the final product.

She was of course talking about the killing.

In fur farms, the life of a mink ends through suffocation in boxes filled with carbon monoxide, whereas foxes are killed by electrocution. If those methods sometimes fail, as a grim backup plan they can also be eliminated by causing "irreversible damage to the brain with a single blow", as the official guideline of the Finnish Food Authority suggests.

The harsh reality is that whether we're talking about minks and foxes, pigs and cows, chickens and sheep, running a business often necessitates lifelong suffering and untimely death—death on a staggering scale. In Finland, we kill approximately 86 million land animals for food every year.

The troubling part is that none of these deaths are clean and pretty. The animals don’t willingly walk into the slaughterhouse floors or surrender without a struggle. They don’t want to give their lives to fulfill the desires of humans, and put up a fight until our innovative slaughtering machinery finally emerges as the winner.

All of this is happening while protected by law, handed down from generation to generation, funded largely with subsidies since the business has turned sour, and most importantly, still silently approved by the vast majority.

But as it goes with humans, not all animals are equal either. Dogs really caught a lucky break.

The meat paradox is that we love one species of animals while we condemn others to lives of suffering and death for our convenience. Our attachment to dogs demonstrates that we have a great capacity for compassion, empathy, and the recognition of the emotional depth in animals.

We’ve invited dogs to share our homes and beds, and on the most cherished occasions, like on Christmas, we give our dog presents while the pig goes to the oven.

So is our relationship to animals really doomed to stay like this? Where could real change start from? A good start could be fur farming coming to an end, which would create a completely new layer of moral arguments against all animal farming.

And once change gains momentum, it will keep slowly manifesting itself from multiple directions, whether it’s a pour of private investments and lobbying power for plant-based protein sources, more stern policies for animal welfare, and the sheer number of people speaking out against cruelty, finally making public meat-eating almost cringeworthy behavior.

Like we’ve seen it happen with other major societal changes, all of that will add up gradually, then suddenly. For a student who is dreaming up their possible career paths, now is a great time to mentally prepare for the new reality.

And as the final bonus, no one would need to wake up, grab a coffee, put on their work boots and begin the day with the “work phase” of killing.

Jussi Hakanen is a Marketing Strategist who used to create campaigns for meat products and is now looking for atonement in animal activism. He loves vöner, hates vatkis and wants to create his own v-alternative at some point. Lotta Punkanen is a Development Director by day and a yoga teacher by night. She gets inspired by Good Food Institute's insights to alternative protein market's blooming potential, and is obsessed with Muu's Roast Biif cold cut. Both of them are KY alumnae.