Do you read Consumer Reports to find out which vitamins cause you harm, which olive oils smell fragrant, or which blenders crush ice the best? Do you read labels to see if food contains high doses of sugar or saturated fat? Do you inspect fruit carefully to make sure it’s fresh? Most people consider themselves scrupulous consumers yet many of them overlook the most important discernment in their daily eating decisions: compassion. Before you eat again and every time you eat from this day forward, you should weigh heavily the stories of the people who spend time with the animals you eat.
In Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry, Gail Eisnitz exposes readers to the testimony of the slaughterhouse workers who prepare your food. Below is a sampling of their experiences, in their own words. Above each story, you will see the faces of people in Miami, Florida who recently stopped to watched this video of what happens to animals inside factory farms.
“I could tell you horror stories… about cattle getting their heads stuck under the gate guards and the only way you can get it out is to cut their heads off while they’re still alive.”
“One time I took my knife – it’s sharp enough – and I sliced off the end of a hog’s nose, just like a piece of bologna. The hog went crazy for a few seconds. Then it just sat there looking kind of stupid. So I took a handful of salt brine and ground it into his nose. Now that hog really went nuts, pushing its nose all over the place. I still had a bunch of salt in my hand – I was wearing a rubber glove – and I stuck the salt right up the hog’s ass. The poor hog didn’t know whether to shit or go blind.”
“I’ve seen live animals shackled, hoisted, stuck, and skinned. Too many to count, too many to remember. It’s just a process that’s continually there. I’ve seen shackled beef looking around before they’ve been stuck. I’ve seen hogs [that are supposed to be lying down] on the bleeding conveyor get up after they’ve been stuck. I’ve seen hogs in the scalding tub trying to swim.”
“These hogs get up to the scalding tank, hit the water and start screaming and kicking. Sometimes they thrash so much they kick water out of the tank… Sooner or later they drown. There’s a rotating arm that pushes them under, no chance for them to get out. I’m not sure if they burn to death before they drown, but it takes them a couple of minutes to stop thrashing.”
“Hogs get stressed out pretty easy. If you prod them too much they have heart attacks. If you get a hog in a chute that’s had the shit prodded out of him and has a heart attack or refuses to move, you take a meat hook and hook it into his bunghole [anus]. You’re dragging these hogs alive, and a lot of times the meat hook rips out of the bunghole. I’ve seen hams – thighs – completely ripped open. I’ve also seen intestines come out. If the hog collapses near the front of the chute, you shove the meat hook into his cheek and drag him forward.”
“Sometimes I grab it [a hog] by the ear and stick it right through the eye. I’m not just taking its eye out, I’ll go all the way to the hilt, right up through the brain, and wiggle the knife.”
“Pigs on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them – beat them to death with a pipe.”
“Only you don’t just kill it, you go in hard, push hard, blow the windpipe, make it drown in its own blood. Split its nose. A live hog would be running around the pit. It would just be looking up at me and I’d be sticking, and I would just take my knife and – cut its eye out while it was just standing there. And this hog would just scream.”
“I seen guys take broomsticks and stick it up the cow’s behind, screwing them with a broom.”
“He’ll kick them [hogs], fork them, use anything he can get his hands on. He’s already broken three pitchforks so far this year, just jabbing them. He doesn’t care if he hits its eyes, head, butt. He jabs them so hard he busts the wooden handles. And he clubs them over the back.”
“I’ve drug cows till their bones start breaking, while they were still alive. Bringing them around the corner and they get stuck up in the doorway, just pull them till their hide be ripped, till the blood just drip on the steel and concrete. Breaking their legs… And the cow be crying with its tongue stuck out. They pull him till his neck just pop.”
If you’ve already stopped eating animals, I hope these stories motivate you to work even harder and smarter for the cause of compassion over killing and mercy for animals. If it’s painful to read and watch, imagine how it feels to the animals. Please consider volunteering for the cause of animal rights.
If you eat animals, I hope these stories persuade you to live a more compassionate life that respects animals’ rights to live freely in their natural habitats. Food should not make you cry, scream, or look away in disbelief. I hope the looks of horror on these people’s faces remain with you as you decide what to eat from this day forward. These atrocities happen because you buy the remains of animals to eat. You don’t need to eat animals to survive. It’s a choice. Please choose kindness.
Why are these people crying? They learned the truth about the food they eat.
Special thanks to volunteers Jennifer Mennuti and Boyd Weidman for showing the video and to Serg Alexander of Eyeworks Production for the photos.
Andrew Kirschner, Ed.D., is a grassroots vegan animal rights activist and radio talk show host. He also writes a zero-profit blog, Kirschner’s Korner, to help raise awareness about issues affecting the global community to make the world a more humane place. To receive new articles via email, enter your email in the “Follow Blog Via Email” link at the top right of the blog.