Pigs screaming in terror as they are asphyxiated with carbon dioxide, crammed four deep into a pen scarcely large enough to hold one of them comfortably as they are lowered into a literal gas chamber. Horses regaining -or never fully losing- consciousness after being shocked only to be sliced open and bled to death while still alive. Cows, some fully conscious, others kicking as they are suspended by a single rear leg, being sliced open and bled out on a slaughterhouse floor.
These are the images that shocked and horrified the world, filmed secretly by an animal-rights group at a slaughterhouse in southern France. (I do not, by the way, recommend watching this video.)
If it were a problem endemic to a single slaughterhouse, the matter would have been resolved when the mayor of the town shuttered the place after viewing the footage. The problem of inhumane treatment of livestock at slaughterhouses is widespread all over France, however, and recently-passed, historic legislation is now in place to ensure these incidents don’t continue.
It’s an issue fraught with various dilemmas.
Due to the subsidies received by farmers, the belief on their side is that the legislation unfairly punishes all farmers and slaughterhouses (abbatoirs in French) for the problems raised by a few, instead of focusing on the proliferation of meat and meat products made in France.
The activists, who argue that the legislation doesn’t go far enough to protect animals in abbatoirs, want the government to spend their time and energy promoting a plant-based diet instead and doing away with the meat industry altogether.
The likelihood of the protestors’ desires being entirely fulfilled is pretty slim, to say the least: lots of people French and otherwise enjoy meat as part of their diets. But vegan options and meat alternatives are becoming more and more widely available and are more meatlike than ever before. While this may raise some concerns among workers in abbatoirs, it might be time for them to reevaluate their career options.