Its been an interesting few weeks observing all the the impending hype about Christmas and watching all of the amped up adverts on the TV concerning getting some ‘pork on your fork’ and making sure you order your ham and turkey in time. On the radio this morning driving back from North Sydney I listened to a conversation on Nova about the importance of ordering in time to make sure that, god forbid, you went without meat on Christmas day and had to eat tofu. They laughed and laughed as if that were the funniest joke in town and the most awful outcome on a day of indulgence. I turned over radio stations disgusted with the presenters and their attitude.
Its a time of year when there is so much meat eaten, so much. Which…in my head, equates to so much death. So much. I think its especially apparent in my mind after watching this recent expose (well done to the team who did it) about farming in NZ.
Coupled with this I just read an amazing book, ‘Slaughterhouse’ by Gail Eisnitz. It made me so angry. It is an amazing amazing read. Not, unfortunately, a tempting title for many non-vegos or vegans I imagine, but its such a revealing and shocking read that I wish more would read it. I wish I had read it years ago. It documents the untold cruelty exacted against animals in the process of factory farming and documents that they are NOT one-offs and they are not unusual incidences of cruelty, they are (as I always felt was the case) everyday and common and par for the course. It talks of cows reaching the 4th stage of ‘processing’ (eg after shocking, having throats cut, and having limbs dismembered) and STILL BEING ALIVE. It has interviews with many many workers at these plants to reveal this is true in about a 3rd of all the cows they have to skin (alive). It talks of pigs having pokers stuck in their eyes, in their anus, in their mouths just to get them to move more quickly through the line. It talks of chickens still being alive when they reach the boiler (already having their feathers removed and their throats cut). And…the important distinction here – is that ALL of those workers interviewed agreed that none of these movements were muscle reactions / twitching, but rather than animals were still bellowing, making noises, rolling their eyes etc.
So – when I read the reaction to the farming expose in NZ and the reactions of, ‘but we love our animals…’ I just wanted to cry. The problem isn’t about whether you love them and treat them well whilst they are at the farm. The problem is when they leave the farm and where there is no accountability and no visibility. I say that again, no accountability and no visibility. If the workers themselves reveal that they are seeing this every single day, that means every single day that thousands of animals are being abused and tortured and its all hidden away and secret and instead what we see are images in the media about getting your christmas ham in time. It sickens me, honestly.
This is the reason I gave up meat all those years ago. The invisibility, the pain, the hidden agenda, the profits of the companies who run these factories and, its not just the animals who suffer, its also the workers who get injured and psychologically scarred by what they have to do every day.
If even one animal is abused in this way (and there is so much more I haven’t mentioned that’s shared in this book) then I can’t ever justify eating meat. I don’t understand how anyone can. Except I can, because its not widely known, its not widely shared and its designed to remain that way.
In the states at the moment a woman is being charged criminally for giving a pig on its way to a slaughterhouse water. Water. Apparently that pig is public property and she had no right to interfere with it. When did we stop seeing animals as beings and start thinking of them as property to be treated as we see fit. This underbelly of human emotions terrifies me.
So – I am looking forward to a christmas where I inflict no pain, am the cause of no suffering or death and where my life choices do not in any way mean that another being is abused beyond any level which we could call humane. I am not perfect, I make mistakes, I am not putting myself of a pedal stall here, I am just so pleased to not be part of the process and I am so happy that all those years ago, aged 14, I saw that documentary on TV late one night and it opened my eyes and forced me to question the world as I knew it.
Happy christmas to you all and please please consider the choices you make and what really happened behind the scenes to make for a merry christmas.