We don’t like to think about it very much. We are pretty good at avoiding thinking about the lives and deaths of the animals that we eat or use for food. It is indeed a difficult subject to contemplate, and yet it is an absolute, inescapable fact due to our choice to use animals, on a grand scale, for food.
Maybe we have seen the large trucks rumbling down the highway, and perhaps noticed the eyes and snouts of the animals packed inside. They are on their way to the slaughterhouse, but we probably never get that far in our thoughts. We just notice a truck full of pigs, never processing what that ride must be like for those beings, or exactly where it is they are headed.
As the trucks arrive at the slaughterhouse, it sometimes happens that there is a group of animal activists there. They are there to bear witness. They are awake to the fact that these are animals just like us.
Just like us, the animals feel fear, they feel pain. They are sentient: conscious, aware, feeling.
So the activists bear witness to these last moments of these animals’ lives by speaking tenderly to them, by giving them some water to drink, by perhaps giving the animals the only real show of compassion and respect that they have ever known from humans — all while the animals are still crowded inside the transport truck.
The animals were born trapped into a system that profits by their death. And it is all about the profit. These animals have never known freedom on this earth: born, living, and dying to serve another species’ market.
The protest also serves as an attempt to raise awareness of this cruel industry and our part in it. Rest assured, there would be no industry if not for our part in it.
On June 19, just a few days ago, such a protest took place in Burlington, Ontario. There was an additional impetus for this protest due to the fact that Canada, like its neighbor to the south, had just passed an ag gag law, Bill 156. Such laws are designed to further protect the animal agriculture industry, make it easier to keep its practices concealed, and insulate it from scrutiny or protest.
That day, one of the protestors in the Toronto Pig Save group was a 65-year-old woman named Regan Russell, a longtime advocate for animals and for other social causes. But at this particular protest, by the time all was said and done, Russell was dead, having been run over by a slaughterhouse truck.
It is my hope that even one person will stop and think about the meat on their plate, and decide to say no. In saying no, we reject a vast, cruel system of exploitation, one that abuses the animals, the planet, and, indeed, the consumers for profit. In saying no, we choose kindness and love and we help to open the world to more of that.
In the memory of Regan Russell, please give a moment to consider the food on your plate.