Last week, we held our monthly Essex Pig Save vigil to bear witness to pigs arriving for slaughter at Cheale Meats in Essex, England. To say the event was a success wouldn’t be right, because we are always left with overwhelming sadness as the truck pulls in to the slaughterhouse, knowing that there is nothing more we can do for the animals inside. However, we are making great progress with this group, and sharing our story with the wider area to inform people about the work we are doing.
We had a great turnout, with over thirty people attending at various times on a very cold morning. At every vigil we have held so far, we have been joined by the police who we have found have had mixed reactions to the vigils. This week though, the police worked with us and the truck drivers to allow us to spend two minutes with each truck. Although this doesn’t seem like a lot of time at all, we are so grateful for the two minutes we get to spend with the animals. Their lives are going to be taken away not long after we see them, so two minutes is incredibly precious.
We were all quite taken aback with how large the pigs were today. Cheale Meats kills around 6,000 animals a week, and they come from all different places – some are bred on factory farms, some on private farms – but they all end up here to be slaughtered. This is important to consider when seeing labels such as ‘humane’, ‘grass fed’ and ‘cage-free’ in animal agriculture. It seems that the purpose of such labels is solely to make people feel better about the products they are buying, without having any impact on animal welfare whatsoever. ‘Humane slaughter’ is an oxymoron – there is no humane way to kill somebody who doesn’t want to die. It was abundantly clear that the animals we saw today did not want to die.
In the two minutes we had, we were able to get a glimpse of the individual personalities of each animal. Their reactions were very mixed, some were clearly frustrated having hardly any space to move and so began to fight with their companions. Others were still and looked petrified, their curious eyes meeting with ours every now and then. It is now common knowledge that pigs are highly intelligent animals – they are very aware of their surroundings. When looking into their eyes, it is obvious that they are reading the signals of those around them. This is why it’s so important that we are there for them in their final moments.
Another thing that’s so heartbreaking when you have the opportunity to get up close to an animal that is heading for slaughter, is noticing the tags on their ears. This clearly symbolises the idea that they are viewed as ‘property’ and their individual personalities are completely ignored, as they are reduced to simply a number. Think of your pet at home – think of all the little quirks they have. One of my rescued cats called Hattie has really thrived since we took her home from Cat’s Protection just over a year ago. I first knew her as a scared, timid cat, but she has grown into an intuitive, loving and sometimes even mischievous member of the family. The animals we saw today will never have that chance to show anyone who they really are. Their tags are a reminder that animal agriculture has robbed them of this. They are viewed as simply a number.
Hopefully we gave the pigs we met today some comfort before they entered Cheale Meats. The Save Movement is continuing to grow worldwide – I just hope that with this comes less people actively participating in such a cruel and unnecessary industry.
RIP to all the animals we met on 13th February 2017 – we’re so sorry we couldn’t save you.
Essex Pig Save in the News!
We are spreading the message of The Save Movement across our local area of Essex! This week we have been featured on the news site Essex Live, and also in the newspapers the Essex Chronicle and the Yellow advertiser. Check out the link below to see our online coverage, talking about the love-based approach that all groups in The Save Movement adopt.
We look forward to welcoming more new activists at our next Essex Pig Save vigil on 13th March 2017!