Bradford Keen

Meat is murder – save the rhino, save the cows and chickens and …

If someone ever told me to consider Daisy the Cow while I glided my sharp knife through a fleshy, bloodied steak, I would have stabbed them with the same blade. Well, at least mocked them with some bushveld braaivleis bravado. But that is all in the past.

Now I am far more inclined to use that blade to exact Daisy’s revenge. So why the change? It is simple. I visited an abattoir.

I recently went to the house of death (that’s what I am calling it now despite the unpopularity at dinner parties) to become informed. I wanted to answer the chic, but essential modern questions, where does my food come from? And more importantly, how did it get there?

We all know the first bit. The animal is birthed through the regular mammalian process, it lives, it eats, it is killed and we buy it in neatly packaged anthropocentric convenience.

It is the grim details of the how, the process of slaughter that will take the cow’s severed hoof and beat your ignorant bliss into awakened activism.

Hundreds of crowded cattle are fed in excess to quickly fatten them up so more can replace them, constantly driving up abattoir’s profit margins and satiating our carnivorous desires.

Mass production is inconvenient when you show off your new vintage coffee table and one of your guests says “Wow, I love that, bought one a few weeks ago.”

It is a bleak reflection of human excess when the items of production are feeling and breathing animals with personalities.

Abattoirs will tell you that mechanisms are in place to ensure the animal experiences minimal suffering. The way the abattoir is designed means the cattle can’t see what is going on in front of them and won’t get stressed. These are convenient utterances used to sooth the animal lover’s distress.

Cattle are bunched together along an S-shape path to death. They undoubtedly become aware of their imminent demise. Daisy who is in the front enters a tiny box restricting all her movement. It’s at this point that Daisy’s kinsfolk start frantically trying to backpedal. They’ve seen and smelt it. They know it is coming. And they are thinking for the loathing of beef stroganoff how do we escape?

The stun-gun shoots Daisy into unconsciousness. The loud thud of her body will crush the brazen carnivore out of you. While still alive, but stunned, Daisy’s ankle is shackled with a crude chain. She is then hoisted onto the production line. Her throat is slit shedding 16 litres of blood from her still warm, maimed and undignified body.

A small blade whittles away her skin. Before the process is completed patches of brown hang loosely from her fleshy mass. Her tail limply sways with the changing motion of the knife.

The saw’s electric shrill sounds Daisy’s last moment of being if not alive, at least whole. Metal teeth hungrily feast along a straight line splitting her in two. She is neatly packaged and ready for your bloodied pleasure.

If it sounds violent, inhumane and reprehensible, it is because the way winged and hooved animals are kept and slaughtered is exactly that.

Consider the person who jumps out of airplanes weeping with self-righteousness that they are saving the rhinos. Another kisses his little pups and kittens as if they were one of the family. They both sit down and talk about how wonderful animals are while they commit a treacherous unintended irony. Mmm Daisy tastes good.

Originally appeared in The Witness.

  • Hi Dave. I’d be surprised if they were fully aware of the process and weren’t a bit shaken. We’re all good people – right? People who consider our footprints and the effects of our presence. All jumping on the ‘keen to be green’ band wagon. The rate at which we now consume meat is exhausting the natural resource. And sure – meat is meat and we must eat, and that is our place in the food chain. But there is nothing natural about the way we’re doing this anymore.

    FYI: fast food is hardly meat anymore – mass production, innit.

  • to stand cold towards the suffering of an other living creature is inhumane. Not eating meat is part of evolution. Non violence to live. Once we regard life in all its forms there will be less war and less murder.

  • Hi Dave, thanks for the comment. I don’t believe people are stupid, well not all of them at least 🙂 I think that being so far removed from the process, which we are, makes us less inclined to really engage with it. We are disconnected from it, we don’t correctly interrogate the brutality and excess of our daily habits.

  • There’s a documentary film I watched fairy recently called Earthlings, which very nearly made me go vegan on the spot. It’s not so much a matter of killing animals for food, but rather how we have made slaves of other species for food, fur and entertainment. The way that animals are treated BEFORE being slaughtered for food is not something than we humans should be proud of. We have become ‘speciesists’ and exert our dominance over other animals. Give Earthlings a watch Dave. I dare you.

  • “The way that animals are treated BEFORE being slaughtered for food is not something than we humans should be proud of. We have become ‘speciesists’ and exert our dominance over other animals.” – could not have said it better Galen.

  • Oh, and have you watched ‘Temple Grandin’ Movie starring Claire Danes…I think she’s right that those cows deserve to be treated rightly because their lives are spared for us to live. To think, she’s handicapped but she sees things most of us don’t.

  • Thanks for the comment 🙂 I haven’t seen it, but I will look out for it. It is shocking to see them killed like that. I saw a picture on someone’s Facebook page of a pig on a spit-roast. You can see the pain in its eyes.

  • And just recently from my trip down South of the Philippinesto Davao City, I saw these poor pigs prepared for a roast, check my post HERE.
    I have a photo there, didn’t feel good seeing them like that.

  • yes great movie..true story. She was autistic, this is why I stick to halaal meat.

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