If you have any friends or family flying in the radar zone of animal rights, you would have noticed a notched up attempt for Animals Australia to address the mass production of livestock in factory farming conditions.
Hats off to them I say. Let’s look at how our agribusiness systems can ethically produce animals in humane conditions all the way through to slaughter. But it’s never a perfect system and inevitably those with no voice or rights (the animals) get vanquished upon, for the sake of lower inputs and higher returns.
Who cares about the rights of cattle when rump steak has never been cheaper?
What’s that? Chorizo at $4.99 per kg?
Six-buck barbeque chickens?
Well of course factory farming has an impact on price as it does on the rights of those who can’t speak up for themselves.
Now before you think I’m going all lentil-burger on you I have these points to make about meat consumption:
1) meat tastes inimitably good and is pleasurable to eat
2) the protein structure in meat provides long satiety (as they are digested)
3) meat has profound cultural significance in food and its preparation.
With those points aired, there is the inverse commentary:
1) Production of meat is extremely energy intensive (from production of grain, pasture, slaughtering, processing, and packaging)
2) Excessive meat consumption is linked to many cancers
3) Global meat consumption is increasing, combined with declining soil fertility, and arable land, and peak oil / phosphate.
4) Livestock produce immense amounts of greenhouse gas
5) The energy conversion of grain-to-meat is poor compared to that of insects (another source of protein for the future!)
So what does this have to do with abattoirs?
Well Animals Australia have released a graphic video of a cow in a full inversion slaughter box.
‘Full inversion’ slaughter box from Animals Australia on Vimeo.
It’s ghastly to see a non-stunned animal bled before it eventually loses consciousness. Why are these animals not stunned before being bled?
My assumption is religion (Islamic, Halal) has something to do with this particular way of slaughtering but it’s not what I’m discussing here.
In the video it does not appear that the animal is toutured.
It’s restrained so as not to injure itself or the worker, throat cleaned, and made visible for an accurate cut. It’s inverted so as to speed exsanguination so the animal looses consciousness quicker—like you or me in an event of massive blood loss, we blackout. In the context of this particular type of slaughter, nothing is awry.
It’s bloody and confronting, but it’s been done in a similar style for millennia. Remember “lamb of god”? Sacrifice at the altar? These were once reverent acts of considered consumption. We’ve just turned up the speed and our rate of consumption because we’re now wealthy compared to cost of food—we want it every day.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the importance of banning live export and stunning an animal before slaughter.
But this video is not like the ones of the past where we’ve witnessed animals being punched, kicked, and stabbed or whatever sadistically grisly action that’s turned the abattoir worker on.
So what does this have to do with market-place abattoir?