I wonder what the effect on meat sales would be if shoppers were given a graphic reminder of what happens inside an abattoir while they were deciding on what type of meat to have for dinner.
Let us imagine for a moment, television screens above the meat section in our local supermarket, or on the wall in our butcher’s shop, showing us just that. The sound is turned up, and we can see the electric prods, gassings, throat-slittings, electrocutions, and firing of bolts into animals’ heads while they scream in fear and struggle desperately for their lives. Of particular poignancy would be the last minutes of those animals, who, having survived the ‘killing’ process, are boiled, hung upside down on hooks, skinned and hacked to pieces while still alive. They still scream and bellow at this stage, just the way you or I would. This is not some sort of exaggerated television horror show designed to make a point; it’s what happens every day of the week as the United States’ abattoir workers interviewed for Gail Eisnitz’s book, Slaughterhouse, xv, make clear. And nobody should assume what happens in their own country is any different and in many of them we already know it is much worse.
Giving shoppers access to footage of this nature would make buying meat a much more honest experience than it is today, and it would remove the, ‘I didn’t know’ argument from the discussion entirely. With that gone, what would be the effect on sales? It’s hard to know, but at least the notion of informed decision-making would be well-served. However, we can be sure that screens such as these not going to be installed while the majority of the population continue thinking as they do. For one thing, shoppers themselves would be up in arms. The last thing a lot of them want is to be reminded of the truth, and of course the truth is also the last thing anyone profiting from meat wants to see in the light of day. But crimes of this enormity will always continue to surface just as they have been doing with monotonous regularity for decades. Some things are just too big to keep hidden.
Anyone who eats ‘free-range’ chicken meat or eggs because they (rightly) believe the lives of battery chickens are a monstrous crime, should have a look at this footage from Star Poultry, an abattoir in Victoria, Australia. It was shown on television by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the ‘7.30 Report’ on 16 November 2017: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-16/chickens-boiled-alive-inside-melbourne-abattoir/9157186 xvi
The chickens who are killed in this abattoir are free range animals, but that means nothing once the meat industry gets hold of them. It is, in my view, footage such as this that shoppers are entitled to see because for many people it would make such a difference and put them on a track they would soon find themselves be very glad to be on.
We hear a lot about informed decision-making these days, so, in the spirit of the times, let us all start making decisions about what we eat based on the best available information. To do this we will of course need an unrestricted view of what happens to those animals who go in the front door of an abattoir, valuing their lives just as we value ours, and who come out the back, hacked to pieces. What better way to observe this process than through the lens of a camera and what better place to watch it than in the meat section of the supermarket?