I came across an article which I think will have relevance for
anyone leaning towards a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. It is
titled "If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls." I am sure that some
of you may have heard it said before. I know that Linda McCartney
had voiced it when she was alive. Whether she coined it, I'm not
sure, but I do know that Paul McCartney has used it more than once
when he has the occasion to speak about vegetarianism -noting
that there would be many more vegetarians if the slaughterhouses
had walls of glass.
There was no author's name on the article I found, and since I
wanted to give him or her credit, I hoped I would find the same
post on the internet. Well, I did not. But to my surprise, I found
10 pages with links to this same title.
In my opinion, it is a wonderful observation, and I truly hope that
anyone who has given any thought to it will read what this author
said in this respect. You may even be inspired to r ead Gail Eisnitz's
book - "Slaughterhouse." I always marveled at her courage t o write a
book on this topic -requiring visits to a slaughterhouse which
certainly must be a place of horror- for not only the poor slaughter
victims, but for sensitive people like Gail Eisnitz.
The writer describes for us in graphic detail what happened to "Angus"
- a 1,100 black and white steer who for 19 months lived on a farm.
Even though the raising and slaughtering of farm animals has been
going on for centuries to the present, I still wonder what type of
person engages in this type of work. Certainly, there is a huge market
for animal flesh world-wide, but hopefully, one day as people learn
the benefits of a plant-based diet, it will become much less so. And
too, the benefits to the environment are immense as well.
To the farmer who brought Angus to the slaughterhouse -did he ever
look into the eyes of Angus as a baby calf? A growing steer? Did he
never see his soul when he looked into his beautiful brown eyes? Did
he never realize that his needs were very much like our own? I hope
no one is thinking- what sentimental rubbish because for many of us,
it is not. Steers like Angus are sentient beings and we cannot but
help but being concerned about their suffering.
Now the farmer departs with a tidy sum of money in his pocket and
leaves Angus to his fate. W ith the smell of blood permeating the air
in this chamber of death, Angus is justifyably afraid as the
slaughterer approaches him. He begins to move from left to right and
back again on his front legs. In human terms his facial expression
The slaughterer places a stun gun between the steer's blinking eyes,
and fires a blank cartridge. No live ammunition is used because the
brain would be damaged and could not then be sold for food. Here again
profit before compassion.
Angus drops to the floor, and as the author notes "the metamorphosis
of living animal to cellophaned meat has begun." Bringing his two
legs together, they are fastened to a chain hoist which lifts Angus
up. This was not easy because he is still alive- kicking and thrashing
in his death throes.
Hanging head-first over a six-foot-square concrete pit, Angus vomits
while the slaugherer in one quick motion slits his throat. Blood pours
into the pit in a steady stream for several minutes, and at some point
Angus bleeds to death. Thank God, that he is at last free of man's
"dominion" over him. He will suffer no more at our hands. In reality,
he is one of the lucky ones because some go through the slaughtering
process while still alive.
Obviously, this is a small slaughtering enterprise because today's
slaughter houses are massive killing places where daily hundreds-
maybe thousand of c ows in only one slaughter house are forced through
the stages of a sl aughering line. Some will even be improperly stunned
and will experience having their legs cut off or being skinned while
The late Senator Byrd one time addressed Congress after reading a
Washington Post article which exposed this type of cruelty. He told
those in attendance. that as a young man in W. Virginia, he remembered
being involved with the killing of hogs, but he assured the listeners,
that those hogs were dead -not alive during the slaughtering process.
I always appreciated him for addressing this topic in Congress. It
showed me that he was concerned about needless animal suffering.
And then the writer notes how ironic it is that during this horror
there is no sound " in the hollow room except for a radio which was
playing gospel music while the air was thick with the smell of blood
and decaying flesh."
The slaughterer has been largely protected from this once living
steer's blood because he wears high rubber boots and a rubber apron.
However, throughout the procedure, he is frequently hosed off. Still
blood does cover his hands and arms and is splattered on his neck
Stepping into the pool of warm blood, he then beheads the steer.
Holding it by one of his horns, he deposits the dripping head into a
barrel which contains the heads of other cattle. I suppose he has
become insensitive to the horror of killing live animals and probably
looks upon it with a detached feeling. After all, the slaughtering of
animals world-wide has been going on for centuries. We have been taught
that there is nothing wrong with the killing and eating of animals.
The writer then brings us up to the last part of this procedure: "The
skinless, headless carcass is again hoisted upon a mechanical pulley
and, beginning between the rear legs, a worker with a huge power saw
cuts it in half. The resulting two sides of beef are hosed clean of
blood and hung in a refrigerated room. Later, the halves will be
butchered and then given names like brisket, sirloin, prime rib, rump,
round, shank, flank and chuck. The 1,100 pound animal will yield about
600 pounds of meat."
And then each piece is weighed, priced, placed on a styrofoam tray and
wrapped in cellophane. I am glad that I am no longer one of the people
who stops by the meat counter to pick up a piece of meat to broil,
sautee, fry, bake or grill. Everybody has a choice and for those of us
who are vegan or vegetarian, we feel we have made the right one.