Development officer-elect Megan McGrath discusses how abbatoir protests are being clamped down on and highlights the work of The Save Movement.

The Save Movement is a network of independently-organised activist groups that witnesses animal slaughter and promote veganism. The movement has 42 groups in the UK and 100+ worldwide, with vigils held everywhere from Hong Kong to Chile. Each is comprised of vegans who travel to slaughterhouses to witness and record footage of a mere fraction of the estimated 56 billion land animals that are killed for food each year. The movement began with a woman called Anita Krajnc who noticed nine large trucks full of pigs on their way to a slaughterhouse in Toronto. This prompted her to hold peaceful vigils, bringing awareness to the animals suffering. Veganism has risen 360% in the last decade in the UK; the footage captured by activists in the Save Movement further facilitating people making the connection between animal and food.

Upon first hearing about the movement, I was initially dubious as to what effects they would reap. But there is nothing more that can consolidate or attest to the belief that harming animals for pleasure is morally incorrect than witnessing the victims of the meat, egg and dairy industry first hand.

Here you find us, standing peacefully and lawfully outside the entrances of slaughterhouses with placards detailing why we are there and to ask the truck drivers to give us a few minutes to record the animals contained within (who are likely seeing daylight for the first time).

Why is it commonplace to condemn the acts of people who mistreat or abuse ‘pet’ animals, with cases even occasionally gaining front page-coverage, but any discussion of the unnecessary slaughter of ‘livestock’ is extreme?

Whether it’s pigs, cows, chickens or sheep crammed into the dingy and terror-induced faeces-filled truck, one thing always remains constant: the look of sheer sadness in their bulging eyes. Despite their only experiences of humans likely being negative (castrations, branding, teeth or horn removal, beaks clipped, forced ejaculation or impregnation, just for starters) the animals still yearn for your touch and muzzle your hand with their noses just like a pet dog would.

We bond with them in the brief moments we have to comfort them, only for the truck then to enter the premise gates and leaving us with nothing more to do than look on helplessly as they’re driven to their deaths. The stench of animal faeces from the transportation trucks is something that lingers long after leaving, along with the sights of the skeletons, heads and organs of the animals that not minutes ago we stroked being forklifted into a skip as waste.

Almost everyone would say they were opposed to needless animal cruelty, but continue to fund an industry where harm, torture and abuse is a prerequisite for its existence. Eating meat, eggs and dairy is not a necessity, so why do self-proclaimed “animal lovers” not switch to the plethora of alternatives on today’s market?

It is a consequence of the companies peddling these products utilising arguably some of the most efficient marketing techniques out of any industry. Consumers genuinely believe that the cow whose calf was killed so her breast milk could instead top your pizza or the chicken that laid her unnaturally frequent and painfully-large egg to finish your fry up had a pleasant life.

Our intentions at The Save Movement are not to vilify the workers, the movement is one of compassion and peace; yet the meat, egg and dairy industry are fighting back with a vengeance.

Companies’ propaganda starts at the outset. Consider the names: Happy Cow, Happy Eggs and The Laughing Cow. Smiling cartoon animals are the basis of advertising campaigns, if not the brand’s entire logo. These are extremely efficient tools for dissociating consumers with the inevitable cruelty experienced by that the animal who truly produced it. The idea of Dog’s Trust associating itself with the Yulin Dog Meat festival is absurd, but yet the RSPCA symbol adorns the chunks of animal flesh on supermarket meat shelves. How can a charity apparently dedicated to the protection of all animals, endorse the products of any animals’ exploitation and death?

Why is it commonplace to condemn the acts of people who mistreat or abuse ‘pet’ animals, with cases even occasionally gaining front page-coverage, but any discussion of the unnecessary slaughter of ‘livestock’ is extreme? No one questions the notion of the animals we view as pets as possessing a personality, as being individuals and capable of experiencing an extremely extensive range of emotions. Why do we not consider the pigs, cows, chicken and sheep whose bodies and excretions it is the norm to feed upon to share these qualities? Some argue it is because they do not have personal relationships with any of the aforementioned species, but extrapolate the idea and its absurdity is revealed. Is, say, stealing from a human only morally wrong if you know the person?

Even though I’ve been vegan for nearing on two years now, I still leave every vigil with a horrid, throat-tightening feeling of guilt. For the 19 years of my life in which I routinely consumed animal products, I never really had thoroughly considered the process of how a living, breathing, feeling animal turned into the filling for my chicken salad sandwich. I was vaguely aware of the connection, but it was something I purposely buried, not wanting my ignorance interrupted. I would avoid anything that reminded me of that fact my food had once been a part of the body of an animal, only opting for skinless, vein-less and boneless meat in order to not induce my veiled discomfort.

People believe the slaughter of animals is morally acceptable because it’s “humane”, but when the definition of the word is “to show compassion”, is the combination of the two not the ultimate oxymoron?

Our intentions at The Save Movement are not to vilify the workers, the movement is one of compassion and peace; yet the meat, egg and dairy industry are fighting back with a vengeance. Thousands of pounds are being spent building gates reducing what is visible from outside the slaughterhouse. Workers have thrown verbal abuse, threatened us with physical violence and trucks driven straight for people standing peacefully in front of slaughterhouse entrances. The National Counter Terrorism Police Operations Unit is working with the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers on the response to the Save Movement.

In today’s current political climate especially, there are surely many more pertinent uses of taxpayer’s money dedicated to fighting terrorism than targeting those asking the public to not fund animal cruelty. This response only eludes to the threat the meat, egg and dairy industries consider the Save Movement. They are extremely aware that people educating themselves on the brutality that is the industry standard, means a reduction in profit. Anita Krajnc, the woman who began the movement, has been charged with criminal mischief for giving some pigs on their way to slaughter water on a hot Toronto summer day.

The stark reality of our country’s eating habits is that they’d be radically different if people had to kill animals with their own two hands. People believe the slaughter of animals is morally acceptable because it’s “humane”, but when the definition of the word is “to show compassion”, is the combination of the two not the ultimate oxymoron? The notion that the animals fuelling our country’s demand for eggs, dairy and meat are ‘happy’ or had a painless death is completely and utterly false. To those that disagree, I invite you to join activists on the public footpath outside Tulip Slaughterhouse’s gas chamber in Manchester, or behind Woolley Brothers’ Slaughterhouse in Sheffield. If you can listen to the sounds of pigs, who share the same ability to feel pain, reason and general intellect as chimps and dogs, screaming and fitting whilst being suffocated to death by CO2 and persist that what they are undergoing is anywhat compassionate – I am dumbfounded.

Comment pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the views of Forge Press.

Image credit: The Save Movement

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