Last year, I wrote about a save movement called Toronto Pig Save, an organisation who bear witness to pigs on their way to slaughter. I interviewed popular American blogger Bite Size Vegan about her thoughts on attending her first vigil with Toronto Pig Save, and thought about how the videos and images captured by people attending the vigils had affected me, and hopefully had the power to make people question their eating habits. So I was thrilled when I heard the movement was expanding to England, first with Manchester Pig Save and then to my home county, with the first Essex Pig Save vigil outside Cheale Meats slaughterhouse in Brentwood, yesterday.
We arrived at around 8am and as we approached the slaughterhouse, it was clear that our arrival was expected. There were around ten policemen and the owner of Cheale Meats standing outside the front. The police were quite co-operative and we explained that this was a peaceful protest. Straight away there was this incredibly eerie feeling about the area. As cars drove by, we wondered if people even knew what was happening so close to them. The sound of birds singing in the sky was drowned out by the sound of pigs screaming at regular intervals. After about an hour, the first truck arrived, transporting terrified pigs to their final destination.
Unfortunately this truck didn’t stop so we were unable to get a good look at the pigs or comfort them at all. We were told this would be the only transport truck for the day, but for a slaughterhouse that kills 6000 pigs a week, this seemed a little hard to believe. Sure enough, about an hour and a half later, a second truck arrived. This one stopped for a few seconds, and we were able to see the faces of the terrified pigs inside.
As you can see, the pigs were covered in dirt and cuts. The videos I’ve seen before of pigs being transported to slaughter show a mix of emotions from the pigs. Some squealing in terror, some aggressive to other pigs cramped together with no room to move, but these pigs seemed almost like they had accepted their fate – they knew what was about to happen to them.
I felt like, as humans, we have let these animals down. They are the victims of an incredibly cruel, violent and completely unnecessary industry, and at that point in time, there was nothing we could do for them except try and show them that they are loved, and we are sorry.
I’m lucky that I normally write about animal sanctuaries and animals that are living happy lives, but today I was faced with the brutal reality for most farm animals. The whole experience was emotionally draining, but I left feeling more dedicated to animal rights than ever before. The animals we bore witness to today are not with us any more, but we can change the future for animals just like them. Leaving animals off your plate and going vegan is the best thing you can do for animals. We can evolve, and leave this out-dated, cruel and planet-destroying way of living behind us. Change starts on your plate.