The Silence of the Lambs
Posted on December 1, 2018
The late musician and performer Prince famously said: “We will need an Animal Rights Day when all slaughterhouses shut down”. A long-term vegan and committed animal advocate, the singer/songwriter was trailblaizing not only in his music but also in his animal advocacy. As he wrote in his song ‘The Animal Kingdom’:
No member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me
It’s why I don’t eat red meat or white fish
Don’t give me no blue cheese
We’re all members of the animal kingdom
Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea.
Prince inferred there would be great rejoicing when all slaughterhouses close for good. Maybe as a visionary artist he could ‘see’ a future where the blood of tens of billions of innocents are no longer spilled every year. Imagining a world without such mind-numbing violence and injustice, working to making it come about, is what this website is about. Personally speaking, I expect to see it to happen in the western world within ten years. That’s the goal!
The meat industry, in order to get consumers to buy their products, has to keep the horrors of its workings hidden. Animals suffer at every stage of their final journey to the slaughterhouse. In order not to have feces everywhere during processing, animals are forced to fast for up to 48 hours before they go on the slaughter truck. They are therefore hungry even when they board the vehicle that carries them to their death. On the truck, which can cover long distances in weather extremes – animals can collapse with the heat, or literally ‘freeze’ to the sides of the trucks in subzero temperatures – they are also banned from drinking water. I have videoed animals parked up for more than ten minutes on a swelteringly hot day in a metal vehicle, stamping their feet in distress, panting and sweating with the heat, while the driver was off getting his lunch.
When they arrive at the slaughterhouse the animals have to wait their turn. In the facility near where I live cattle arriving on Sunday have to wait 24 hours until work resumes again on Monday. While they are waiting they watch their peers disappearing one by one. Please do not tell me that they do not sense something is terribly wrong, and do not fear what is going to happen to them.
No animal walks willingly to his or her death. The self-preserving instinct they share with all other life-forms means they would strongly resist having their throats slit, so Industry manages this by stunning them first. The way this is done varies. Pigs are commonly placed in a C02 chamber where they spend more than a minute screaming and trying to escape while the gas burns their throat and nasal passages. Hens and chickens are passed upside down in a bath of electrified water, and cows have their skulls drilled with a special gun that places a retractable bullet into their brains. After they are stunned they are hung upside down, which in heavy cows and pigs can cause tears and breaks. Being upside down they can bleed out more quickly, which is more commercially beneficial – ‘Time is Money’. Depending on the slaughterhouse, it is not uncommon to have some animals survive one stage, or even two stages of the slaughter process. These animals die, as slaughterhouse worker Ramon told the Washington Post: ‘piece by piece’. The failure rate, however, is impossible to evaluate.
In so-called ritual slaughter, for halal and kosher meat, animals are not stunned at all, causing the animal to feel the agony and panic of having their throat slit and being bled out.
While slaughterhouses are places of sheer horror for the animals, what about the people who carry out the killing? The correlation between violence and animal slaughter has long preoccupied social scientists. If a worker has to cut the throat of 100, 200, 300 animals a day, then it follows that this will affect him negatively. Very few people want to do this work for obvious reasons, and so it is those who have no other choice, such as poor migrant workers, who carry it out. This takes a very heavy toll on their psyche. In this example, as in so many others, the poor are disadvantaged.
This past week at my vigil here in Whanganui, Aotearoa/New Zealand, I videoed some lambs on a truck waiting to be let through the electronic gate leading to the slaughterhouse. As I have seen so many times before over my years of bearing witness, I saw fear, uncertainty and confusion in their eyes. These babies pressed against each other for comfort, and some turned their heads to look at me, but in generally they stood still. I heard not even a faint bleat from them. All I heard was silence.
The fear and pain we put other sentient beings through on a mind-bending scale has to come to an end. It is time to begin the work of closing down slaughterhouses for good. These places of horror and injustice are an appalling crime against the helpless innocent, and a terrible blight on our humanity and so-called ‘civilisation’.
We do not have to eat animals. As has been well documented for decades now, not eating animals makes people healthier, and it is also much better for the planet. With so many delicious vegan alternatives available, we don’t have to go without by giving up eating animals and their products. If you eat meat and dairy, if you are one of the causes for the existence of slaughterhouses, then please consider transitioning to a vegan diet. If you will not to do this, then the least you can do before you put your fork to your mouth is to take a moment to think of the bloody way your food got onto your plate.
Please help to create a non-violent world by refusing to be a cause for slaughterhouses to exist. Please be part of the change. Please begin now.