After reading this title, you may be thinking a couple things: (1) animals aren't particularly happy if they're dead; and (2) why does my food need to be happy? Before I go on, let me say something: I love animals. I wanted to be a vet my whole life (except from ages 6-8 when I wanted to be a tattoo artist). But, sigh, I instead took the business route because I'm a wimp and didn't want to rough it in school for another several years after graduation. But anyways, like I said, I love animals but I am not a vegetarian. I do eat meat, but don't agree with companies wrongly treating animals for the mere goal to mass produce food. I can understand that it may be cheaper financially (and I'm sure I'm naive and not rightfully representing other reasons), but I believe it is possible to treat animals with respect and still be economically savvy.
There is a movie called Food, Inc. It's a documentary that examines corporate farming in the United States. Take it with a grain of salt because it can be a tad controversial, and people may say it only provides a one-sided perspective. Regardless, I think it illustrates a lot of great points and I recommend it to anyone. One of these points talks throughly about chicken farming (a clip is posted below, and it depicts the reasons why I don't buy Tyson). When I go to the supermarket, I always try to buy my eggs or chicken meat "cage free" or "free range". This means that the chickens are raised in a more natural setting then cooped up (no pun here) with other chickens. Usually when chickens are "free range", their diets are less chemically infused; therefore, healthier and happier eggs and chickens. The video below is a clip from Food, Inc.--Just a disclaimer: this clip isn't the easiest to watch, especially if you're a big animal lover, but it depicts the scary realization of corporate farming.
I try to apply this same concept to cows. When buying meat, I always try to purchase "grass fed" beef (I recommend Laura's Lean Beef). These cows are fed, well, grass and you may be thinking, duh. But, as crazy as it sounds, not all cows are fed a grass diet. Many are fed corn feed with a mixture of antibiotics, growth hormones, etc. (this was how mad cow disease came about, kidding). Also another thing to think about, what the animals eat is more or less going into your body as well. Icky. All I know is, cows were constructed to live on a mostly grass diet. That is the way nature intended it, and I wouldn't mess with Mother Nature.
Call me crazy, but I believe happy food comes from happy animals. Call me even crazier, but I can almost feel a difference between eating meat from a happy, grass-fed cow and a sad, corn-fed cow (and in chicken eggs, there's a physical difference between the mass produced and "free range" eggs). Many people don't put this much extra thought into what they eat and that's okay, but this is something that I'm passionate about. I can't change the world, but I know I can illuminate the change I'd like to see. I've always treated others how I've wanted to be treated, so why should this limit animals?