Written by Michelle Kretzer 11-09-2012
Paul McCartney famously said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” So an intrepid group of animal advocates found a way to bring the slaughterhouse to the sidewalk. Every Saturday night, volunteers Jennifer Mennuti and Boyd Weidman screen PETA’s “Factory Farming in 60 Seconds Flat” for passersby on Miami’s busy Lincoln Road.
For many people, it’s the first time they are staring into the faces of the animals they call “steak,” “ham,” or “nugget.” There in front of them is the irrefutable evidence that their “entrée” was a cow who coughed and choked as the blood spilling from her slit throat ran down her face and covered the floor below, a pig who screamed and cried as he was burned to death in scalding-hot water, a chicken whose desperate squawks went unheeded as her broken legs were slammed into shackles and she stared past the long line of her comrades to the whirring blades that would end her life. A photographer caught some of the people’s reactions, and it seems Paul was right.
PETA supporter Andrew Kirschner, who hosts a radio talk show about animal rights, published the photos on his blog, Kirschner’s Corner, accompanied by the real-life experiences of slaughterhouse workers, taken from Gail A. Eisnitz’s book Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry.
“I could tell you horror stories… about cattle getting their heads stuck under the gate guards and the only way you can get it out is to cut their heads off while they’re still alive.”
“One time I took my knife – it’s sharp enough – and I sliced off the end of a hog’s nose, just like a piece of bologna. The hog went crazy for a few seconds. Then it just sat there looking kind of stupid. So I took a handful of salt brine and ground it into his nose. Now that hog really went nuts, pushing its nose all over the place. I still had a bunch of salt in my hand – I was wearing a rubber glove – and I stuck the salt right up the hog’s ass. The poor hog didn’t know whether to **** or go blind.”
“I’ve seen live animals shackled, hoisted, stuck, and skinned. Too many to count, too many to remember. It’s just a process that’s continually there. I’ve seen shackled beef looking around before they’ve been stuck. I’ve seen hogs [that are supposed to be lying down] on the bleeding conveyor get up after they’ve been stuck. I’ve seen hogs in the scalding tub trying to swim.”
“These hogs get up to the scalding tank, hit the water and start screaming and kicking. Sometimes they thrash so much they kick water out of the tank… Sooner or later they drown. There’s a rotating arm that pushes them under, no chance for them to get out. I’m not sure if they burn to death before they drown, but it takes them a couple of minutes to stop thrashing.”
“Hogs get stressed out pretty easy. If you prod them too much they have heart attacks. If you get a hog in a chute that’s had the **** prodded out of him and has a heart attack or refuses to move, you take a meat hook and hook it into his bunghole [anus]. You’re dragging these hogs alive, and a lot of times the meat hook rips out of the bunghole. I’ve seen hams – thighs – completely ripped open. I’ve also seen intestines come out. If the hog collapses near the front of the chute, you shove the meat hook into his cheek and drag him forward.”
“Sometimes I grab it [a hog] by the ear and stick it right through the eye. I’m not just taking its eye out, I’ll go all the way to the hilt, right up through the brain, and wiggle the knife.”
“Pigs on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them – beat them to death with a pipe.”
“Only you don’t just kill it, you go in hard, push hard, blow the windpipe, make it drown in its own blood. Split its nose. A live hog would be running around the pit. It would just be looking up at me and I’d be sticking, and I would just take my knife and – cut its eye out while it was just standing there. And this hog would just scream.”
“I seen guys take broomsticks and stick it up the cow’s behind, screwing them with a broom.”
“He’ll kick them [hogs], fork them, use anything he can get his hands on. He’s already broken three pitchforks so far this year, just jabbing them. He doesn’t care if he hits its eyes, head, butt. He jabs them so hard he busts the wooden handles. And he clubs them over the back.”
“I’ve drug cows till their bones start breaking, while they were still alive. Bringing them around the corner and they get stuck up in the doorway, just pull them till their hide be ripped, till the blood just drip on the steel and concrete. Breaking their legs… And the cow be crying with its tongue stuck out. They pull him till his neck just pop.”
Pictures are © Serg Alexander/Eyeworks Production
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