Why Do Slaughterhouse Vigils?

Posted on June 6, 2020

It will soon be five years that I have been standing outside slaughterhouses on a weekly basis.  I do my vigils as part of the Worldwide Save movement. 

These peaceful vigils to ‘bear witness’ to the lives of the animals, take place outside slaughterhouses.    The aim is to say goodbye, and give comfort to the animals who are being taken to their brutal deaths. When we see the animals in the trucks, we tell them we’re sorry.   We apologise on behalf of the human race for the atrocities we commit against the animal kingdom.  We tell them we love them.

We take photographs and videos, and share these on social media, to help meat eaters make the connection that the meat they consume was once a living, breathing, feeling animal.  We stand on the roadside, so passing motorists can read our signs.   When we can we ask the drivers if they could stop for a moment while we say goodbye to the animals.   From time to time a truck driver will stop, but in the majority of cases they do not.

The two slaughterhouses I do my vigils at in Whanganui, New Zealand, are Land Meats, that kills cattle and pigs, and AFFCO Imlay, that kills sheep and bobby calves.  I am usually at the cow and pig slaughterhouse, and have seen countless trucks of cows arriving over the years.   The animals are visibly distressed.  Many are covered with mud, and also their own excrement.  The smell is often overpowering.    I have seen many foam at the mouth and others rolling their eyes so you can see the whites.  Some desperately try to get out of the truck.  Just last week when I was joined with friends from another centre, we saw one cow ramming his head against a wall, and another kicking his back legs against the locked door.

If we make eye contact with the animals, we often think about them for hours and even days afterwards, after they have met their gruesome end.

While vigils can be emotionally exhausting we feel it’s important that we keep this happening.  We refuse to turn a blind eye to the terrible animal holocaust that goes on every single day, when it is completely unnecessary.

When you look into the eyes of an animal you can feel their souls.   Pigs especially have human-looking eyes.  Pigs are said to be as intelligent as three-year-old human children.  I have sometimes heard them screaming at the slaughterhouse, a heartbreaking, bloodcurdling sound that is impossible to forget.

Over the years I have mainly seen cows arriving, and because I know they like music, I sing to them, or play music for them.  I seek to give them a little gentleness and comfort, possibly the only expression of love they have had in their lives.  It is distressing for me to see how the drivers and ground staff handle them, using an electric prod.   From a distance, I have witnessed how they beat them to get them to move up the chute to the stunbox.

I and my friends in the Save Movement here in New Zealand, and all over the world, are proud to take this stand for the animals.  The animals need us.   We are their voice.   They depend on us to act on their behalf.

If you think that this kind of deeply compassionate action and outreach is for you, wherever you may be in the world, then you can learn more about it from thesavemovement.org

Follow the Save Movement on FB: Animal Save Movement

Follow the SAVE Movement on Instagram: @thesavemovement

Follow the SAVE Movement on Twitter: @animalsavemvmt

All photos taken at a vigil at Land Meats slaughterhouse, Whanganui, New Zealand, 24 May 2020.

–  Sandra Kyle 

Sandra started endanimalslaughter.org in 2018 with the aim of having all slaughterhouses in the western world closed by 2025.