Oped

Who is doing the terrorising?

  • The meat industry becomes vulnerable when consumers learn the reality of how it operates
- MANEKA SANJAY GANDHI

May 28, 2017-Veganism finally has meat eating on the run in the United Kingdom. Not only are the ad campaigns really big and powerful, they show what happens in slaughterhouses and people are actually listening to them and making a switch. 

So much so that The Independent newspaper has just revealed that a meeting was called by the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers and the National Pig Association with the official National Counter Terrorism Police Operations Centre team to find out how they could stop peaceful vegans  from holding candlelight vigils outside slaughterhouses to show love and compassion to pigs, cows and chickens in their final moments and to raise awareness of the cruelty we inflict upon them.

Plain wrong

All slaughterhouses should have a CCTV and any citizen should be allowed in. That way the enormous cruelty that happens to animals—apart from dragging buffaloes and calves off overloaded trucks by their tails, or dragging chickens across the floor, hanging them upside down, slitting their throats to catch the blood, pouring boiling water on them while alive to loosen their skins etc— will be somewhat curbed. There is additional cruelty shown by slaughterhouse workers amusing themselves at work. Live chickens are used as footballs, pigs are stabbed repeatedly as target practice with knives and competitions take place on novel ways to kill. The Mayor of North Delhi and Gauri Maulekhi of People for Animals (PFA) went to the Delhi Ghazipur slaughterhouse on a surprise inspection last month. Apart from finding no vets there (they get their pay sitting at home) they found buffaloes being hit with live electric wires by  laughing butchers. The animals collapsed repeatedly and when they got to their feet again, they did it again. They took bets on how many times an animal could sustain electric hits before it dissolved into a trembling, unconscious mass on the floor. Then they slit its throat—in full view of a hundred other buffaloes and their calves.

One herd of goats had a little kid who ran for her life. She was chased by 10 shouting men with heavy sticks, and who would have crushed her to a pulp had Gauri not caught her. The kid is now in my house. Gauri took a video of the slaughterhouse and was nearly lynched by hundreds of resentful butchers and the owner’s manager who was well aware that what the butchers were doing was wrong, but did nothing to stop it.

I once did a survey of the animals being killed. We found 78 percent of all chickens had broken legs and wings at least three days before being slaughtered; 60 percent of all large animals had shattered limbs and 45 percent were diseased. Forget the terrible pain they were in, by law none of them should be killed as they were gangrenous and the meat dangerous for consumption.

If abattoirs had glass walls

Instead of me saying anything else, let me quote the rest of the Independent article:“To regard Save vigils as terrorism is genuinely absurd: a panicked, guilty response from the planet’s most brutal industry. Our counter-terrorism experts should be concentrating their efforts on genuine threats against British public safety, not a bunch of vegan campaigners who only wish to expose the reality of a commercial sector that the majority of its consumers remain in the dark about.

But although Save protestors are not terrorists, perhaps abattoir bosses have good reason to fear their work.

The meat industry is vulnerable when consumers learn the reality of how it operates; when they look directly at the faces of the animals it condemns to short, torturous lives and ferocious deaths. Protestors share videos from the vigils on social media, offering that connection to the general public. This makes an industry that has poured so much money, time and desperation into keeping consumers’ eyes shut feeling nervous.

According to latest estimates, 542,000 Brits are now vegans, up from 150,000 in 2006—a 350 percent increase in just over a decade. Official supermarket revenue statistics for 2016 showed the biggest losers were meat and dairy, while the biggest gains came for dairy-free products. Overall sales of plant-based products are up 1,500 per cent.

Big food and hospitality brands, from Harvester and Wetherspoons to Pret A Manger and Sainsbury’s, are launching successful vegan ranges. Last month, Sainsbury’s reported that sales of its new own-brand vegan cheeses were 300 percent greater than it had anticipated.

Activists are exposing the truth about the meat on your plate: that piglets who grow too slowly are killed by being slammed headfirst onto concrete floors, a standard industry practice called “thumping”; that in many chicken slaughterhouses workers routinely rip the heads off live birds; that pigs scream in gas chambers, or as they are boiled alive; that cattle sometimes experience having their legs sawn off while they are still conscious.

I’ve nothing but respect for Save as they rattle and expose those complicit in the meat industry. They are not terrorists.

It’s often said that we accuse others of what we secretly know we are doing ourselves. So as abattoir workers toss and turn at night, perhaps they might ask themselves, who is really doing the terrorising?”

Why are you eating meat in India when you have more than 50,000 options of amazing food which are better for you, better for animals and better for the planet. Each one of us has a belief that we are good people at heart. Do good people allow so much pain to be caused in beings that are exactly like you in every way, only kinder and smarter?

Sir Paul McCartney once said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

Are you going to wait for the glass walls to show you what is happening, or will you go with your conscience which tells you that what you are doing is wrong?

- To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in www.peopleforanimalsindia.org  

Published: 28-05-2017 08:15

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