Essex Pig Save February Vigil and Media Coverage

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.

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Some of the 30+ activists who joined us to bear witness.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Essex Live coverage

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We look forward to welcoming more new activists at our next Essex Pig Save vigil on 13th March 2017!

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Bearing Witness with Essex Pig Save – Why Being Vegan Isn’t Enough

In 2016, I took the step from vegan to vegan activist. It was a new year’s resolution of mine to become more involved in animal rights. I would watch videos of undercover investigations in factory farms, and I knew that my money was not paying for any of this cruelty…but this still didn’t make me feel any better. No fair! I did the research, watched the footage, I made the leap from vegetarian to vegan, surely I should feel at peace knowing that my money isn’t paying anybody to torture and kill animals?! Unfortunately, for many people like me, this isn’t enough. New investigations keep cropping up all the time, new disturbing pictures, and although you might not be contributing to it, are you doing enough to change this course of history? Or will you be burdened with the fear of future generations looking back and saying, ‘why didn’t they do more?’

My answer? Activism. Last summer, I joined Toronto Pig Save in a series of vigils in a short space of time, bearing witness to cows, pigs, lambs and chickens. I talked to Anita Krajnc about how her passion lead to her facing the possibility of going to prison for what she believed in (read more about Anita’s trial here). I talked to other activists, and eventually found that a lot of people felt the same as me. Since then I have attended regular save vigils, taking time out of my own little life to think about the suffering of others, and actually being there for them, instead of turning a blind eye. The quote that best sums up what I’m talking about here is:

‘Activism is my rent for living on the planet.’ – Alice Walker

Yesterday I joined other activists to say goodbye to innocent pigs about to enter Cheale Meats in Essex. This is one of the ‘nicer’ locations for a slaughterhouse, as strange as that is to say. The surrounding area here is very deceiving –  a beautiful countryside with birds singing and typical rural surroundings. The thing that ruins all this though? The screams of helpless pigs inside Cheale Meats, and today those screams were extra loud.

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We were able to bear witness to some of the pigs entering Cheale Meats. They were cramped, frightened, agitated and seemed to have an idea about where they were headed. Well, they are one of the world’s most intelligent animals (cleverer than dogs) let’s give them some credit, right? Take a moment to think about how you would feel if you were in this very same situation…

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We had two precious minutes with these animals. For two minutes, they were shown compassion. For two minutes, they were viewed as living beings instead of simply commodities. For two minutes, time spent with them was time we wanted to give, not because we were ‘doing our job’ to cause them pain and suffering. For us it was just two minutes, for them it was some of their last moments on earth.

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As the trucks pulled off into the gloom of Cheale Meats, we spent an extra two minutes remembering these animals silently. As the human race, we have let them down. But as individuals, there’s still a lot more we can do.

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In many situations in life, you can do something or you can do nothing. As sad as it is to say, the animals I met today were going to die regardless. We can either be there for them, and share their story, or we can let them suffer in silence. At the end of 2016, I wrote about some of my proudest moments of the year (check this out here)- it wasn’t losing weight, it wasn’t stopping biting my nails, it wasn’t spending less money on clothes – it was getting active for animals. Feeling overwhelmed and angry about a factory farming video you’ve just watched? Good! Use it. Use it to share their story, attend animal rights events, go to vigils and look into the eyes of animals bound for slaughter. Because this is happening whether you turn a blind eye or not. But I guarantee you will feel stronger and prouder as you find yourself part of some amazing milestones that will be happening for animals. Just this weekend, Ringling Brother’s Circus announced they will (finally) be closing this year, and no more animals will be suffering for our entertainment in their hands (read about this here). Imagine how awesome it feels to be a part of that? To have protested for a cause you felt so passionate about, and the world listened. It can happen, and it is happening! Make 2017 the year you actually did something about what you care about. And speak up! Because the world is listening, and things are changing, but please don’t forget those that won’t get to see this change.

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RIP to all the pigs I met today.

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The Save Movement

An excellent way to get active for animals is by attending Save vigils. These are now cropping up all over the place, so the chances are there will be one not too far from you. And if there isn’t? Start your own! I bet there will be plenty of other people in your area that want to get active for animals too. Check out the following links for more information:

List of Save Groups

Essex Pig Save

Toronto Pig Save

Essex Pig Save Vigil with Emily from Bite Size Vegan

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.

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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.

Click here to see video of dehydrated pigs as witnessed by Essex Pig Save.

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.

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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.

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R.I.P

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.

Short clip of Emily from Bite Size Vegan’s speech here!

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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!

Essex Pig Save

Manchester Pig Save

Farnborough Animal Save

Hertfordshire Chicken Save

Also be sure to check out more from Bite Size Vegan on her YouTube channel here!

Essex Pig Save & Animal Equality Outreach Event

On Sunday 28th August, Essex Pig Save and Animal Equality joined forces to show the people of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, the truth behind animal agriculture.

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Essex Pig Save have held a number of successful vigils over the past few months, I wrote about the first one outside Cheale Meats in Brentwood here. The aim of the group is to bear witness to pigs on their final journey to the slaughterhouse, and promote a vegan lifestyle so that in the future, innocent pigs will not have to endure such a cruel and unnecessary fate.

Animal Equality were on hand with virtual reality headsets, where people viewed 360 degree footage of the life of a pig at a factory farm. The reaction from the public who viewed the footage was very inspiring. People of all ages took on the challenge to open their minds by putting themselves in somebody else’s shoes.

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Engrossed in factory farm footage.
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The aftermath.

Essex Pig Save were handing out leaflets with more information, and many people seemed to be eager to find out more. I had some great conversations with people who were vegetarian, but hadn’t thought about the implications that the egg and dairy industry has for animals. Others hadn’t really thought about the treatment of animals in factory farms very much before, but were open to what we were doing and took some information away to consider.

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Watch the footage, get a free vegan cake…great deal!

Overall, it was a very successful day, and it was great to be able to talk to people about what Essex Pig Save are doing. Slaughterhouses are often hidden in secret, so it’s important that we shine a line and let people know what actually goes on.

The next Essex Pig Save vigil will be on the 14th September, with special guest Bite Size Vegan, who I interviewed prior to attending her first ever vigil with Toronto Pig Save here. Find out more about Bite Size Vegan’s UK travels here.

N.B.: The vigils are open to absolutely everyone, check out the Essex Pig Save Facebook Page to find out more about bearing witness to beautiful animals.

Essex Pig Save First Vigil – 6th June 2016

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.

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Waiting for the arrival of innocent pigs being taken to slaughter.

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.

See video of the first transport truck here.

 

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Why love one but eat the other?

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.

See video of the second transport truck here.

 

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The final journey.

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.

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Did your food have a face?

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.

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Ignorance isn’t always bliss.

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. 

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Please support this important pig save movement and be the voice these animals so desperately need!

Essex Pig Save

Manchester Pig Save

Toronto Pig Save