I heard about the slaughterhouse video from the Humane Society of the United States a couple of weeks ago, but did not watch it because I’m way too sensitive for stuff like that. This morning coworkers were talking about the massive beef recall it spawned, one person yelling for the other to stop talking about it because she couldn’t think about the downed animals, and the other coming to my desk to tell me he was done eating beef and that the processors should be put in jail for endangering human life. This struck me as interesting (and depressing) on a couple of points: first, that people don’t want to face horrible things about animal suffering and just prefer to let it continue, and then that other people aren’t concerned at all about the animals and just want to sue over mad cow disease.
Obviously we all have different motivators, shock-inducers, thresholds for action, what have you. Had it not been for the work of undercover animal rights investigators, though, who are vilified or considered crazy by the average person and targeted by ridiculous laws like AETA, my average American coworkers would not have to face knowing that yes, cattle in slaughterhouses are abused, and that yes, you might eat tainted meat from sick livestock.
I’m just wearied by the news and not interested in passing judgment. I think it will take a bigger wake up call than this, though, for people to incorporate a little compassion and safety into their hamburgers.
In the video, workers are seen kicking cows, ramming them with the blades of a forklift, jabbing them in the eyes, applying painful electrical shocks and even torturing them with a hose and water in attempts to force sick or injured animals to walk to slaughter.
I still haven’t watched the video. You can read the HSUS article, where there is a link to the video if you can stomach it. There is also a short New York Times article about the recall. Much of the beef went to school lunch programs and food for the elderly, poor, etc.