The making of a vegetarian

2011-09-05 00:00

IF someone ever told me to consider Daisy the Cow while I glided my sharp knife through a bloodied steak, I would have stabbed them with the same blade. Well, at least mocked them with some 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 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 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 fatten them up quickly. Then, the kill. 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 soothe the animal lover’s distress.

Cattle are bunched together along an S-shaped 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 back pedal. They’ve seen and smelt it. They know it is coming. And they are thinking how do weescape?

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.

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