From beasts we scorn as soulless
in forest, field and den,
the cry goes up to witness
the soullessness of men. – M. Frida Hartley
It has been more than a year since I last posted content on this website. I guess life just got in the way: work, adopting a dog, buying a house, moving, getting settled, doing the laundry and vacuum cleaning every now and then.
But recently the urge to write came up because I have some important things to say. I ignored this urge for a while though: getting a message across only works when your argument is lucid, when you know what the tone of your text should be, and when you’re willing to get into discussions and possibly arguments with the people you genuinely like. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever be really ready for that last aspect.
But today I broke down; I saw footage of a pig being slaughtered. Facing the pig who got electrocuted, fell onto some sort of conveyor belt, was raised by one of her legs into the air with a chain, got conscious again and started struggling, was stabbed in the throat, kind of bled out, and eventually disappeared into boiling water. I kept the sound off, which probably saved me from losing it completely.
I’ve been seeing similar footage because – well – that’s what you get when you turn vegan and follow vegans and animal rights groups on social media. But for the first time after seeing this footage, I just wanted to die. Not just the brain saying: “Ugh, I want to die”, but my legs became wobbly, my stomach turned, my heart rate went up, and I could feel every ounce of joy and happiness just disappear from me. There is genuinely no way to enjoy anything in life when realising that what I had just witnessed is normal and happening every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year. (Apparently, this is called Vystopia).
Getting electrocuted or being gassed by CO2 are the most ‘humane’ ways to kill/sedate a pig before it’s being slaughtered by stabbing. And by looking this pig in the face and seeing the expression on her face, from the beginning of this electrocution up to the falling onto the conveyor belt, it became very very clear: it is never humane, it is never quick, and I would rather die than put someone through that experience. And believe me: the CO2 option isn’t any more humane than this. And yes, this also happens in The Netherlands, don’t fool yourself.
A week ago, Meat the Victims (an organisation whose members break the law -in a non-violent manner- by going into farms, inviting the media to come in and film the living conditions of the animals that we consume and use) walked into a pig farm in Boxtel, the Netherlands. There was a lot of commotion: the media weren’t allowed to enter, activists were locked into the farm, farmers went berserk and started damaging activists’ cars and throwing meat onto the cars, etc.
Prior to this event, there was a Cube of Truth on the Dam in Amsterdam for 24 hours. Almost a thousand activists showed footage of the meat, egg, and dairy industry and the effects these industries have on the animals, our health, and the planet. People passing by are free to watch the footage, ask questions, have discussions and sign up to try and become a vegan themselves. Although I have respect for both activists’ groups, I feel that the Cube of Truth would have been a perfect statement on its own, without the commotion of the Meat the Victims action. Because it’s friendly and has a positive vibe to it. It might even be possible that Meat the Victims ruined it for the Cube of Truthers when you look at it from the public’s point of view. It’s also believed by some pragmatic vegans that showing how veganism (or any behaviour you want others to adopt) is done in a positive way, encourages people to do the same. The more people act a certain way, the more common it becomes, the more common it becomes, the more people will act in the same manner.
And really, I want to be that pragmatic vegan. I want to show you how easy it is, how creative you become when baking cinnamon rolls and all that jazz and how delicious and awesome the food can be. But sometimes, on days like this, I can’t. Because I know that if all the people that I know and that I love would watch this footage that I saw – that poor pig being gassed or electrocuted, that little rooster being drowned, that cow running after her calf and going to slaughter some years later, those fish in those trawl nets- ….if my friends and family would take the time and really look at it…really let it sink in…then no one would consider buying meat, eggs, dairy or fish ever again.
It doesn’t matter if you see these animals as less sophisticated, less intelligent, or whether you feel there are more pressing issues in the world that we should deal with. It’s not an either/or issue: it’s not either we will stop wars/child molestation/racism/domestic violence OR we’ll speak up against animal cruelty and recognise that all this suffering in factory farming and in slaughterhouses is no longer necessary and we stop buying the products that keep this horror show going. It doesn’t work that way. It’s accepting that there’s a way to minimise the pain you inflict on others and acting on that acceptance and the responsibility that comes with it. Even if this means looking at the footage and leaving the bacon and milk out.
Because I truly believe that the people that I know and hold dear can recognise suffering and pain in others (man or animal) and would do everything they could to stop it.
Please consider watching the following documentaries:
Forks over Knives (can be found on Netflix)
And get a vegan starter kit here