Meat is Murder

The process that happens to an animal before it becomes the piece of meat on your plate at dinnertime is very often ignored as people find it hard to face the cold truth. As Paul McCartney once said: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls everyone would be a vegetarian.” The life these farmed animals endure can be so horrific and unspeakable, it’s often easier for the world to turn a blind eye to the procedure; making it invisible.

Many farmed animals have lived a life behind bars or in filthy over-crowded pen being mishandled, neglected and mutilated. Females are forcibly impregnated to then have their babies torn away from them and all factory-farmed turkeys have never met their mothers.

They are sometimes fed a cocktail of drugs and chemicals that can cause their bodies to become oversized, resulting in numerous health problems.

Sascha Camilli from PETA told of how the animals are roughly shoved into crates as they are being driven to the abattoir where they are often shackled by their legs and hung upside down. During the ride cows frequently collapse from exhaustion and many chickens are crushed to death.

70% of the pig meat sold in a number of major supermarkets comes from the offspring of sows kept in farrowing crates and 95% of ducks are reared intensively without even water to swim in.

Jennifer White from PETA said that: “All animals raised for the flesh, milk, eggs or skin suffer tremendously on factory farms and in slaughterhouses.” The animals are treated more like objects on a production line in a brutal business where the more killings mean more earnings.

Slaughter men are still getting paid by the number of kills, meaning they can be very fast-paced which leaves a lot of room for error. This obviously becomes a major problem when dealing with an animal’s life and being stunned in the wrong place can mean the animal does not lose full consciousness and can still be conscious for the knifing stage. In fact, it’s estimated by the EU Scientific Veterinary Committee that around 5 to 10% of cattle are not stunned effectively.

But if it’s so bad, why do people still eat meat?

Although there are 350 licenced slaughterhouses in the UK, to find out what goes on inside is extremely difficult and there is a lot of secrecy about the business. Viva! Suggested that: “If people were confronted with the bloody reality then we would certainly see sales of meat dropping drastically.” Speaking about the UK, Sascha Camilli also agreed that: “Most of whom would be horrified if they had the chance to see with their own eyes how animals die for meat.”

So perhaps people just aren’t aware of the horrors of the meat trade. However, video footage of the goings on inside slaughterhouses have been obtained over the past and shared across the Internet. This begs the question; are people really oblivious to the meat trade, or do they just choose to ignore the truth in front of their eyes at dinner time? Viva! believes that: “People obviously know that an animal has to die for their plate, but most choose not to think about it too much,” which is the easier option.

The videos obtained from slaughterhouses can be severely distressing and for some people, the guilt of an animal’s life being taken in replacement of a meal is too much. Erik Marcus from vegan.com who’s been vegan for 27 years, confessed: “I saw some videos of a slaughterhouse, and quickly transitioned to being vegetarian and then vegan.”

Viva! found that 9.8 million pigs, nearly 15 million sheep, 18 million turkeys, 14 million ducks, over 945 million chickens and 2.6 million cattle are killed in the UK each year. Each of these animals will suffer either a captive bolt pistol to the head, electric tongs, an electrified water bath or gas stunning to make them unconscious before their throats are slit with a knife and they are left to hang upside down for the blood to drain from their bodies.

As a nation that claims to be one full of animal lovers, how do we justify buying into this trade?

There has recently been a petition to stop the dog meat trade in China which a lot of British people signed and disagreed with (myself being one of them). But in believing that a dog shouldn’t be killed for food, whereas it’s acceptable for a cow or pig to be, is placing the value of one animal’s life above that of another’s.

Jennifer White at PETA agreed that: “It’s only prejudice that allows us to treat some animals as members of our family while treating others like body parts to butcher and consume. Pigs are just as intelligent, if not more intelligent than dogs; chickens are playful and have personalities just like cats, and cows are loving and protective mothers. All of these animals care about their lives just as we do and want to live, yet they are treated in ways that would be illegal were cats and dogs the victims. There’s no justification for this double standard.”

Perhaps because Britain as a society has associated dogs and cats more as “pets” and “companions” rather than chickens and sheep, we feel a deeper connection with them as an animal. Whereas the animals the nation typically eats have only ever been seen as farm animals, meaning people are more comfortable with using them as food.

Despite there being a decline of 3.7 million animals being slaughtered in Britain last year compared to 2013, that figure seems like nothing compared to the 56 billion farmed animals killed every year worldwide. And the WWF found that the diet of a typical British person is made up of 70% meat and dairy and with only 2% of the UK population being vegetarian, perhaps the horrors of what these animals go through doesn’t cross people’s minds enough.

Having been a vegetarian for five years, Faye Roper said she realised that: “I never saw the meat on my plate as an animal. But once I started looking online at all these horrible videos of these poor caged animals being raised just for food, I realised that it was wrong of me to view the animals as just a piece of meat. The cruelty behind it wasn’t worth what I was getting.”

Turning a blind eye and making the thought of slaughter houses invisible in your mind, unfortunately does not deem it any less visible and real. The cold truth is that around 225 animals are killed every second in the UK for food and this will only stop when the demand for meat does.

Don’t make the plain visible, invisible.

By, Vivyan Lecher