Yesterday I attended another Essex Pig Save vigil at Cheale Meats, Brentwood, to bear witness to pigs on their way to slaughter. We were joined by Bite Size Vegan, Vegan Revolution and The Vegan Activist, along with a whole host of dedicated animal activists who came to offer compassion to the pigs who were being transported today.
It was a boiling hot day, and after standing outside for a while, the heat made everyone pretty uncomfortable. This would have been nothing compared to what the pigs felt.
Hot, cramped and dehydrated pigs on the last part of their final journey. We tried to offer as much comfort to the pigs as we could by feeding them water and looking into their eyes, viewing them as the intelligent, gentle and sentient beings they are.
After getting up close to one pig in particular, I was taken aback by just how beautiful these animals are. I was faced with these incredible blue eyes looking back at me. This pig was scared and, like most of his friends, seemed to know what was coming next.
This image has stuck with me since yesterday, and so has something else. A lot of people that attend the vigils comment how seeing an empty truck come out of the slaughterhouse has such an eerie feeling about it, and I completely agree. The employee driving one particular truck slowed down as he reached us, having just transported a group of pigs to their deaths. He spat out his words, angrily shouting at us to move out the way with a vulgar threat involving throwing pig body parts at us. I felt completely bewildered by this moment, but one thing became really clear to me. This was the sheer contrast between the peaceful, gentle and innocent animals that we had just witnessed in the back of the truck, compared to the behaviour of the human driving them to their deaths. And the most unfathomable thing of all – not only is this legal, but it is actually paid for by the vast majority of the population.
Since writing about Toronto Pig Save last year (view here) and then attending the first Essex Pig Save (view here), followed by several more in Toronto, I am learning how to use all the sadness, anger and frustration I feel about how the world has treated such beautiful animals, and turn this into motivation to do as much as I can to change it. This is the power of bearing witness.
Yesterday evening, I also went to see Emily from Bite Size Vegan’s talk about veganism and animal activism. Listening to her really cemented for me something that I had thought about earlier. As vegans, we can often possess the same quality as non-vegans in that we still turn away from what these animals are going through. The least we can do is recognise their struggle. I have never believed in the huge importance of bearing witness more than after everything that I had experienced today.
FIND OUT MORE!
Check out the following links to find more information about save vigils in England. Not one in your area? Contact Manchester Pig Save to find out how you can start your own!
Also be sure to check out more from Bite Size Vegan on her YouTube channel here!