The article below is an extraction from the book I am currently writing labelled “Essays”. It is a selection of essays I have written, combined into one whole book.
I must admit, animal rights is not a topic or problem I think about too much (maybe not enough), but certain things have recently come to my attention. One of these “certain things”, happens to be social media. For those of you who have “Facebook” or “Twitter”, may already know where I am coming from here; and where I am going with this.
Every time (it feels) I log onto a social media site, someone has uploaded or posted a picture of an animal. These pictures usually consist of a bloodied-dog (or sometimes an unharmed cute dog), with the caption “ Share if you are against animal abuse”. There are other forms of photo, but that is not important. Not now anyway.
For those of you who do not partake in social media sites, you will be extremely surprised, if you were to “sign up”, at how many of these style of picture there are. You may even be more surprised by the people who are sharing them. For example, I know one girl whom quite often “shares” these pictures on the site “Facebook”. Now, one time I was with her in a fast food restaurant. In North-East London, I believe it was. I would say that this lady must share “animal abuse awareness” photos at least four-times a week. Despite the fact, that she eats in fast food chains, which is supplied by industrial meat farms. Though, the-fast food-restaurant she was eating from (I did not eat, I wasn’t hungry), used Islamic Halal meat.
Halal meat is a rather bloody and cruel form of slaughter. The executioner, if you will, will take a rather large blade, and in one quick stroke, slashes the throat of the animal. It is a slow death for the animals.If you don’t believe me, watch videos of this method for yourself. The objective is for the animal to bleed out; As this is believed to be “natural”. Though, I do not know too many wild predators whom carry a stainless-steel cleaver whilst out hunting. Apart from us humans, of course. It can take up to ten minutes for a cow to bleed to death. Imagine, if you dare, having you throat slit and being able to feel it for about six minutes, I would imagine the cow would pass out a few minutes before it’s full ten minutes is up.
You may have seen Halal meat in the news before. In February 2014, the Danish government completely banned Halal meat. Labeling it “cruel and inhumane”. About one month after this, the President of the British Veterinary Association, John Blackwell, called for the same law to be passed against Halal and Kosher meat in the UK. Kosher meat is the Jewish version of Halal, but includes the same slaughter method. This caused quite the stir in the UK. As, there are a fair few Muslims and Jews in the UK. Though, It did not just rustle feather in selected religious communities, it also caused outrage in other religious-or sometimes even non-religious- backgrounds. When discussing the matter, I would quite often hear cliche sayings like: “We are all free to do what we like”. This now raises another question, which I will be discussing in a latter essay.
Now, on to industrial meat. Industrial meat slaughters it’s animals using the more humane death, by giving the animals a quick electric shock. However, do not be fooled. Despite the actual death its self being more “humane”, if you will, the events leading up to the slaughter is far from it. Dare I start with the arrival of the animals? I do dare. As babies (or chicks or calf’s, if you will), they are squeezed into ridiculously small spaces; and remain that way until they are ready for the slaughter itself. As for the slaughter itself, despite the electric shock method, it is extremely inhumane. Let’s use cows as my example. When they are ready to be killed, they are all taken into the slaughter house. Where, they are all squeezed together, and one by one, lead into a small metal cell, where they will meet the inevitable end. It may not sound too distressing, but allow me to explain in slightly more detail (just so you can get the jist of it). First of all, the rounding of the cows is extremely distressing. Yes, they are used to crammed spaced (sadly), but the sudden movement and aggressiveness spooks them. This is far from the worst experience for them. As I said, they are all lead together into the slaughter house. And, therefore, can hear there fellow Cows being electrocuted, and the squeal as they are stunned to death. There is vast amounts of scientific evidence which proves the Cows are extremely distressed and saddened by these sounds. In other words, the Cow can hear his fellow herd-member being slaughtered; processing the sound as a human would. The sound of death.
A prime example of industrial slaughter would be the Danish Crown slaughterhouse; located in the wonderful city of Horsens, East Jutland, Denmark- as you may have assumed from the company’s name. Despite being located in such a wonderful city, there is nothing pretty about this slaughterhouse.Please, feel free to visit the company’s website, where they claim to be “the worlds most modern slaughterhouse”. I cannot say too much about that statement, as my knowledge on slaughter technology is slightly rusty. However, one can instantly tell this is a top of the range slaughter house. In the pictures (on the website), you will see hundreds upon hundreds of pig corpses, hanging from rails. I do worry for the mental health of whoever planned the website. As the corpses seemed to be pictured as if the corpses were trophy’s in a cabinet.
Danish Crown slaughter house kills-just-over 100,000 pigs a week. I believe it is the largest slaughter house in the world. Simply imagine, having 14,285 pigs a day; all forced through small metal-open top- tunnels.
The question we simply must ask ourselves is: Why do we accept the cruel,malice, mass butchering of some animals, but spite those who hit one dog?
For me the answer lies within our social view of animals. For example, our pets. The photos or stories usually shown/told in animal rights campaign sites are usually of cats or dogs (as is the same for these photos on social media. Quite ironically, the lady whom I spoke about earlier, does indeed have a dog. She would hate to see dogs harmed… But did not care to much about brutal slaughter methods uses on cattle. It seems, our social view on cattle and chickens etc, seems slightly twisted. It is very rare we view them as animals; In fact, 99% of the time we just view them-simply-as food. So, as humans, we would not like to see harm come to an animal which we can look in awe at, and stroke or hold.
I once saw a documentary labelled “My life as a Turkey”. A rather heart warming documentary, about a biologist (named Joe Hutto) whom raised 13 turkeys from egg too adult… He even learnt to speak some Turkey! (SPOILER ALERT). When the turkeys had blossomed into rather ugly flowers, some of the male Turkeys attacked Joe, as Joe was the alpha male- and the other Turkeys wanted his place. Poor Joe was devastated. He had raised these birds as if they were his own children, as I said, the Turkeys actually viewed Joe as the alpha male. But, to you and me, a Turkey is something you have with your roast potatoes on Christmas Day. To be honest, the majority of us do not give a single damn how that Turkey ended up on your plate, as long as it’s there.
So in brief, unless we have had a personal relationship with a species, it is extremely hard for us to actually care about it.
The same actually goes with how humans view each other, to some extent. There is a video online named: ‘We find genocides boring': Sam Harris on moral illusions’. In which, Sam Harris uses evidence from Paul Slovic’s ‘How much would you give to help a child in need?’ experiment. The results of this test are truly shocking. Slovic’s results show that the more children who are “in need”, the less people sympathize or donate to them. Or, “Genocide neglect”, as Slovic calls it. I believe, this is because we can’t sympathize with victims of mass poverty or genocide. For example, I do not even know, say, five-thousand people. Let alone know five-thousand people who are suffering daily.
This is extremely similar to our view on animals. I could not bare to see a small dog come to harm, because,I myself, have had a personal relationship with a dog. And, you can probably guess what I’m about to say now. I have never had a personal relationship with a cow, or a chicken. Therefore, I find it extremely hard to sympathize with them.
In conclusion, as I said in the title, unless we can imagine (or have) cuddling and petting these cute, furry animals, it is extremely hard for us not to to feel bad/sorry for them. So…A message to all cute kittens and dogs… we care about you.