28 Dec 2015

Could you slit an animal's throat?


It's a harsh question. A horrible question. And while I apologise to anybody who is upset by this question, it needs to be asked.

To get meat, we must kill. It's a concept most people understand - but unfortunately, it's a concept very few people will acknowledge. For many people, it is easier to ignore the truth about meat than to make an effort to change. Many people will eat meat, several times a day, without a second thought. But what if they had to slaughter the animal? What if they had to choose their victim? Would that make any difference at all?

I know, personally, that I could never intentionally slaughter or harm another living creature. And, to be consistent in my morals, I choose not to pay for other people to kill animals for me. That, plain and simply, is why I'm vegan.

"I know there are many people out there who aren't vegan, and yet they too would never harm an animal. Most people have kind, compassionate hearts. Most people don't want to hurt anyone."

But I know there are many people out there who aren't vegan, and yet they too would never harm an animal. Most people have kind, compassionate hearts. Most people don't want to hurt anyone. Morals and ethics are deeply ingrained in our culture, and one of our strongest morals is the idea that killing is wrong. So for many people, given the task of slitting a living animal's throat, they would turn away in horror and disgust. They couldn't go through with it. Many people refuse to even watch videos of this kind of behaviour.

So that's why I ask this question.

Could you take a knife, slice an animal's neck, watch he or she bleed out and die, slice his or her body to pieces, cook these pieces and eat them?

Could you?

Just reading these words sickens me. And I know many other people would feel the same. These words are uncomfortable and unsettling.

So why do we allow it to happen, on a huge scale - a scale of billions, every single day? Why do we pay money to keep this horrific industry afloat?

I believe that moral consistency is very important. I believe that if we think killing is wrong, we should not pay for it to happen.

I believe that moral consistency is very important. I believe that if we think killing is wrong, we should not pay for it to happen. It is a very simple concept, and it is why I have never wanted to eat meat.

Of course, I should address one thing. There are people out there who would happily slit an animal's throat and eat its body. Those people are not the target of this article. I am not going to waste time with somebody who simply doesn't care. But many people are kind and compassionate towards animals. Many people care a lot. All they need is a guiding hand. That's what I am offering with this article.

The reality of slaughterhouses 

If you're doubting whether or not these animals are killed by such gruesome means, I invite you to read this page. It contains accounts of actual slaughterhouse activities written by actual slaughterhouse workers.

Bill Haw, CEO of Kansas City's National Farms writes this:
Well, the slaughterhouse is not a pretty thing. I mean, it's a necessary process. It's a highly efficient process. But it's not now, nor never will be, a very pretty thing. Animals come there to die, to be eviscerated, to be decapitated, to be de-hided -- and all of those are violent, bloody and difficult things to watch. So your first and foremost impression of at least the initial stages of the packing house are a very violent, very dehumanizing sort of thing.
But the fact is, we are meat eaters, most of us. And it's a highly efficient way and a reasonably humane way. The animals are rendered unconscious before any of this happens. I think there's a concern for humane treatment of the animals. But the process itself is a violent and unpleasant sort of thing. ...

What he says is both true and false. The violence he describes, however shocking, is accurate. In saying this, he also justifies his actions through claiming that slaughtering animals is necessary and humane. The first is a matter of fact, and the second of opinion. It is a fact that humans do not need to eat animals to thrive and survive. There are millions of healthy vegans and vegetarians proving that every day. Secondly, if we describe humane as "having or showing compassion or benevolence", then Bill Haw must be wrong, because there is nothing compassionate or benevolent about killing without good reason.
And what's more, Bill Haw describes the dehumanisation of slaughterhouse workers. This is a horrible thing to subject a person to - the loss of their sense of self, of humanity. Slaughterhouses are bad not only for the animals, but for all involved in the horrible process, humans included.

Moral consistency is important

Is it natural for humans to eat meat? Some say yes, some say no. It's arguable. Some say we should make logical rather than emotional decisions, but our entire human lives are based around emotion. What's not arguable is that human society is a society based on morals. Nearly every day, we make decisions based on their ethicality. We live by a system of what's right and wrong, and if we choose to disobey this system, we end up in jail, or are shunned by our fellow humans.

There are two major issues to which humans are strongly opposed: killing and abuse. Needless killing and abuse both go against society's morals - so much so that committing these acts could land you on death row (another issue that is subject to moral debate). We are intelligent creatures able to understand when killing is okay and when it's not. In self-defence, killing is usually justified. If a bear is attempting to rip you limb-from-limb, it's okay to fight back. If a human is trying to kidnap you, it's okay to fight back. But if a human is casually walking by, minding their own business, not harming anybody, it's not okay to kill them. And if a bear is prowling through the forest, seeking shelter or food, it's not okay to kill it. And it's not okay to harm or abuse the beast. What are you doing in the bear's territory, anyway?

"I am morally opposed to necessary killing, and so I will not pay for necessary killing to happen. I will not give my money to an industry that needlessly kills, regardless of how "humanely" the killing is done."

These are the morals we live by. So why should things change when cows, pigs, sheep, and other commodified animals enter the picture? To reiterate what I said earlier: I am morally opposed to necessary killing, and so I will not pay for necessary killing to happen. I will not give my money to an industry that needlessly kills, regardless of how "humanely" the killing is done.

Death is death, life is life, and morals are morals. I shouldn't ignore my morals and push them to the back of my mind, out of sight and out of thought, to justify doing something that's convenient or traditional. I hope you, or whoever you share this article with, take this idea into consideration the next time you or they give money to a slaughterhouse.

If you are interested in veganism, I have many useful resources on my blog: here, here, here and here. You could also check out Veganuary, a project encouraging people to try veganism in the new year. Thanks for reading.