I can limit my compassion. I can look at a scared animal and kill it, and that’s what horrifies me.
Episode two of the ABC’s documentary series Opening Shot is titled “Meatwork”, by Madeleine Parry.
The synopsis of this episode beings with the paragraph.
Meatwork goes past the shock of the ‘first kill’ to understand the reality of what it means to be a meat eater in the modern world. Maddie, a young city dwelling meat eater, has gone further than most to find out. She’s killed a chicken with her grandmother, but the closest she usually gets to the animals she eats is the butcher’s shop. Would she have eaten them if she had to kill them all? And could she convince herself she cared about them if she did?
As weird as this may sound coming from me, I have to honestly give Madeleine full marks for what she did. Spending five weeks in a slaughterhouse and to allow herself to fully experience what happens there.
It is interesting to watch the changes that she goes through as time goes by, and she becomes more familiar and accustomed to the process and what actually happens at the slaughterhouse.
In the early stages on her time at the slaughterhouse, one of her tasks was to push the sheep into the stunning box, and you can see the gentle way that she does it, even talking to, and apologising to them at one point.
Prior to her first slaughter, Maddy is talking to some of the other workers and asks one of them if killing a lot of animals ‘changes you’. He replies that he doesn’t think it does, though as the documentary progresses, of can see that the time spent there does indeed change her.
This happens on Day 7.
The first time that she has to actually participate in the stunning/slaughter process, you notice the look on her face, and she isn’t initially able to actually watch the throat being cut.
The following scene she asks herself the question “What am I now? Am I still a caring person?” Ending with her saying that she has always wanted to do what was right, though now she doesn’t know what’s right.
It is an interesting documentary to watch as Madeleine explains how she is feeling about things and has discussions with the other employees of the slaughterhouse.
Of importance is her realization that when it comes time to kill cattle, to do it, she is going to have to switch off, along with admitting that she didn’t feel nearly as sad as she did when killing the sheep. That changes when it comes time to kill a pig, with her saying “Pigs don’t let you switch off. I don’t know whether they realise, they don’t let you forget you are taking their life”.
When talking about actual slaughter, she says “It will never be kind, pretty or fair to kill an animal. It can be quick. That’s about it”
This program has to be one of the best resources that I have seen for why we need to promote veganism above all else.
This deception of promoting a humane product has to stop as it is of no benefit to anyone, least of all the animals who are still being killed.
We have to stop mollycoddling those who consume animal products and pandering to them allowing them to think they have made a compassionate choice because they chose cageless product over the intensively factory farmed one.
If someone tells you that they care about animals, and we know that most people do, don’t lie to them and tell them that happy meat or cage free eggs is a better option. Play on their compassion and sense of wanting to do what is right, and tell them that going vegan is the easiest and best thing they can do.
On that note, I will leave with these final words from Madeline herself.
I can limit my compassion.
I can look at a scared animal and kill it, and that’s what horrifies me.
I can no longer tell myself I care about the animal I am eating.
Although slaughter my be quick, it isn’t kind.
To eat meat, I am going to have to stomach that.
1: Episode 02 – Opening Shot- ABC TV