Caught on Tape

We’ve all seen it advertised on the five o’clock news, “new undercover footage…” Undercover footage is a growing trend in animal rights, and more investigative research is being released and aired. This can be both good and bad. Footage of factory farms allows consumers to see the true source of their Big Macs and fried chicken. From the fecal laden environment to the brutal and cruel treatment of the animals; the truth about this food is heart breaking.

Having watched several videos, I often ask myself the same question, “how can the workers do this?” How can they work in this environment, how can they be so detached from the animals and worst of all, how can they stomp on, beat, punch and abuse the animals in so many ways? This senseless and heartless mistreatment is what really gets to me. I am not talking about the shockers (who stun cattle as they come in, prior to having their throats slit to drain their blood) or those who transfer chickens from the trucks; I am talking about the men who are seen jumping onto a defenseless and harmless pig or the men who strangle the neck of a cow while punching her into unconsciousness.

Recently I came across a video blog by vegan cook and animal advocate Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Colleen gives a great explanation of what drives these workers to commit such acts of cruelty.

What sticks out to me the most are two points Colleen makes, “They’re as exploited as the animals,” and, “They’re disempowered, disenfranchised, desensitized people doing this work.” I believe that the stress of witnessing repeated slaughter after slaughter and hearing the frightening shrills from the enslaved animals begins to eat away at their psyche. I feel that slaughterhouse workers have a personal threshold for how much cruelty they are able to take in. It would not surprise me if a large majority of these workers suffered from work-related post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to seeing endless innocent lives being stolen, workers may have few other work options. As Colleen states, some workers live in towns where slaughter work may be the form of employment providing the most income.

So, how do we as a society fix this? It isn’t simple and it isn’t going to disappear over night. Consumers have an option of what food sources they wish to support. Do you want to continue to support an industry that abuses and mistreats their “product” and their employees? Hopefully you all answered “no.” Don’t fret, there are plenty of other options out there to satisfy your palate.

You can guess where I’m headed. The easy solution is going vegan. As demand is reduced, fewer animals will be abused.  If you are shaking your head at me saying, “No, Danielle, there is no way I could go cold-vegan,” that’s alright. I get it, I was there once too. How about cutting back your consumption? Try eating meat/animal products for a handful of meals each week. Or why not visit local farms and find out for yourself where your food comes from? If a farm is not willing to welcome you for a tour, scratch that one off your list of friendly farmers.

Whatever level of change you decide on, please remember next time you see an undercover video the people who are committing these acts of cruelty are themselves victims of this cruel industry. Have compassion for them, as well as for the animals they abuse.

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