The first time that I saw this picture, I saw hope.
It would be naively optimistic of me to presume that her name was “Hope” (she looks like a girl to me). Or should that be “looked like a girl”. Yes the past participle is a more befitting verb tense I feel; based off the fact that she is dead now. This little piggy was pulled from her near-death experience recently, disheveled and visibly distraught, only to be violently killed all over again.
For the purpose of this article let’s think of her as Hope. In the ‘hope’ that it might make somebody who currently enjoys eating hope, to consider having a change of heart. That would give me a sense of…yes, you guessed it: hope.
If you are not from the U.K. or you are from the U.K. but are not generally interested in animal welfare, then the story of the A16 pig crash – which happened on Wednesday the 11th of January – probably passed you by. Unfortunately, not much transportation could then pass by without seeing a piglets internal organ or two lying gingerly on the side of the trucks, now blood-splattered, cerulean-blue metal framework.
In short, a transportation truck of 180 six month old piglets (that is the average age that pigs are slaughtered at, although sometimes older, sometimes younger) was en route to it’s final destination: Tulip Slaughter House in Lincolnshire. The lorry overturned at a junction and “splat!” just like that, it turned the fate of the piglets inside of the lorry that little bit crueler in the process.
The piglets whose injuries were deemed too severe to be killed for human consumption (there is an irony in there somewhere right?) were euthanised on the road, in as decent a fashion as possible. The piglets who survived – who will have undoubtedly been severely traumatised and in a lot of physical pain – were saved by attending paramedics; only to then be killed hours later. There is no irony here, only a sense of ironic truth.
Another truth is that those same piglets were not only eventually killed – regardless of the impassioned pleas by activists onsite with transportation for the piglets to go to nearby animal sanctuaries – but after slaughter, these same piglets had their still-warm bodies dumped into nearby bins. Because nothing says “taking out the trash” better than a society that is binning injured babies who might have otherwise made it into a jar of frankfurters, only to give a human child a mild stomach ache at best; maybe the runs at the worse.
Oh shit sorry! That should have read: “increased cholesterol and clogged arteries at best, and a slow and painful demise at the hands of any one of the leading causes of death at worse.” Once that child had grown up of course. A right that is not given to farmed-children as world-wide animal consumption levels are simply to high in 2017 not to demand this.
Of course there is something worse than what is going on here: it’s what lets what happened go on. It is what exactly is allowing this kind of a situation to play out when:
If these piglets were humans, this situation would be considered a historic crime.
If these piglets were dogs, this situation would make national and even international news.
If these piglets were babies, as in human babies, the western world as we know it would cease to exist.
But their not, their piglets, so it’s cool yeah. How else am I gonna eat them bodies? I don’t really care about the fact that studies show pigs to be highly social and intelligent; much like dogs and many young children.
I don’t care that my food has a face and a mind, is capable of achieving REM sleep, can think and dream, feel and enjoy attention. Can and will kick back when being slaughtered. Is alive and really doesn’t want to to die. I just want my bacon butty, mate.
So, assuming that the above thought process was one that is commonly adopted by meat eaters, that as sad as it was what happened to those piggies; they were already on their way to die. That is what they were raised for after all. Considering that this was, or in fact is, the “normal” way to think – how did it get to be this way?
In her book “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism” Dr Melanie Joy speaks on this topic as profoundly as she does on all subject matter pertaining to the unfair usage of animals as commodities. The simple state of the matter is that through the slaughterhouse industry being all but invisible since it’s inception (arguably now ever more so, yet simultaneously less so). Farmed animals are supposed to be majority hidden from the majority of people.
That’s people like you, that’s people like me. That way we don’t form bonds and we don’t think about them and we don’t overly-feel. We might see an accident involving animals and feel a huge amount of natural and healthy empathy in the moment. Hours later however, how many of those same people would have slipped back into their automated-pilot way of living, come the next time that a meat-based meal was presented? With all of those juicy aromas wafting around the room and a comforting atmosphere of “this is normal”, “this is how it is”, “this is society” playing on a subconscious loop in their subconscious minds.
In actuality, through, via the usage of concealment in this manner we not only give away our compassion and our empathy on a mass-scale; but we are actually rendered as emotionally deceased on the inside as these biases are born to quickly become on the outside.
With that said what was the reasoning behind why a major supermarket chain such as Waitrose allowed piglets deemed unfit for human consumption not to be transported to near-by sanctuaries? Nothing has been officially said of course, but those who already know the animal agriculture industry well think that most likely an insurance claim against “wastage” from that day will be issued somewhere along the lines. Classy.
Now, please, do me a favour will you: look at the opening picture of the sixth month old piglet one last time and imagine for a moment that the clearly shell-shocked face looking back at you was that of a dog, or a human. How would you have felt? What would you have done? How would you have aided in their recovery?
In fact I will go one (hypothetical) step further and say that you can almost see the resemblance to a human in terms of Hopes facial expression. Or perhaps that is just me. When I look at that photo I am in fact quite haunted by the feeling that there was an emotional response somewhere within her mind during that terrifying ordeal. I can see a “thank you” in her, in Hopes, amply-spaced apart eyes. And a slight upturn at the right hand-side corner of her mouth, which marks the beginnings of a smile, perhaps? The beginnings of a new perception of humans as anything other than enslavers and torturers. A trust in the kindness of strangers and a hope for a better tomorrow.
Unfortunately as we already know a better tomorrow was not to be. Only a day that no human would ever want to come anywhere close to living. And actually wouldn’t do, couldn’t do; as we are protected by law not to be killed for food. Whereas the likes of Hope, and the millions of other animals destined for slaughter right now are to the contrary supposed to die, by law.
Because as long as we deem living, thinking, feeling beings as being “fit for human consumption” them trucks will keep on truckin’ and them piggies will go ‘to market’ and “weeee weeeee weeee” all the way [to your] home.