Pig

So in a discussion thread about vegetarianism and whether or not it's morally okay to eat meat(a subject I'm not getting into here!), somebody posted an episode from Gordon Ramsay's latest TV series about how meat animals are raised, kept and slaughtered. The idea is that if you eat meat, you should be okay with the processes that lead up to it even if they're invisible to you when you're doing your week's shopping in Sainsbury's.

Fair enough, I thought. I eat meat, I like it and I'm happy with its place in my diet. But I figure, if I'm going to get squeamish about watching a pair of meat pigs get slaughtered, aren't I a hypocrite? After all, I love a pork roast. I was also curious as to what exactly the process of slaughter is like.

So Mr. Ramsay brings his pigs(amusingly named Trinny and Susannah, I doubt the Americans will get that though) to the abbatoir, the slaughtermen show him in and explain what's going to happen. It's surprisingly simple, and both I and Ramsay were surprised by how fast it is.

One after the other, the pigs are led in, stunned into unconsciousness by an electric tongs applied across the temples, lifted up and have their throats cut. The blood runs out into a trough below, and when it's all out the bodies are processed - skinned(in an ingenious machine that uses high-pressure water to remove hair and skin), gutted and hung up to cool. I think the whole process takes about ten minutes but the video was cut so that after the initial slaughter it might have taken longer. Slaughter itself only took about thirty seconds.

Watching the process made me a little queasy at first, because the electric shock causes the pigs muscles to quiver so it looks like they're still awake after having their throats cut. Ramsay had a harder time of it, having raised the pigs himself in his back garden and grown attached to them. But seeing how quickly it went, and seeing that the pigs weren't in pain or even aware of what was going on, it settled me. They didn't suffer, the men at the abbatoir weren't cruel. Ramsay left making plans for how best to serve the pigs up at his restaurant, and I felt oddly relieved. It's not a cruel process, so I'm glad.

And I'm having a nice pork roast for Sunday dinner, so all the better!

View Thinker #000000's profile

A lot of factory farm animals live really miserable lives, though, especially the absurdly hormoned and genetically-modified. It seems commonplace for disfigured, overweight chickens and cows that can't walk to writhe on the floors of their cages with tumors and various other diseases that obviously won't go treated. Not to be all dramatic, but after looking into the process of commercial meat-food production, it seems to me like the killing of the animals is the least cruel part of their treatment.

View Thinker #394170's profile

Luckily shit like that would never fly in the UK; farming processes are inspected and kept to generally much higher standards than in the US. I'd never buy meat produced outside of the British Isles, rules regarding animal treatment are so much lower elsewhere.

View Thinker #c00f9b's profile

To be fair, unforgivable conditions do happen in this country (USA) where animals are left in terrible cramped conditions, injected with goodness knows what, and otherwise not treated properly. Yet mosat places arn't really like that, animal rights groups show the worst of the worst to make a point, and the existence of even one farm with conditions like this completely justifies their complaints. But I live in a rural area and have spent most of my life down the road from a commercial pig farm I can't attest to any sort of injections given to the pigs but from observation they have a decent amount of room to run around in outside (durring spring and summer months at least) and seem to be well fed but decidedly not to the point of being unable to walk.

I passed by one of the official Land O' Lakes dairy farms, and it was one of the cutest most idyllic farms I have ever seen. I sat down and had a good long talk with a man who owns a large cattle farm. He loved his animals and took all kinds of measures to make sure they were well taken care of until the time came for them to go to the slaughterhouse. While horrible commercial farms do exists, there are still good ones and good farmers who take a lot of pride in raising an animal right, not just in making money. Studies have even shown that cattle that are treated well actually taste better.

View Thinker #000000's profile

I suppose the question is then, "How do I know what I'm supporting with my purchases?"

View Thinker #ff3399's profile

good question. it's unfortunate, in a country like the US (or truly any industrialized country) where we are so separated from the processes that bring us out products, that it's a question that can be asked about most things. i think the average citizen of an industrialized nation purchases many items a year that may be traced back to dubious practices, whether it be cruelty to animals or to humans, economic unfairness or other such things.

how do you ever know what you're supporting?

not that i'm advocating just giving up with a resounding sigh and fuck it and just not caring anymore. it's just so difficult to know sometimes. even some products that seem harmless have dubious steps along the way. the greater issue is, as consumer nation rather than a producer nation, how do we get closer to what we buy and use?

View Thinker #000000's profile

Well, I don't think that changing the way that labor is organized has much effect on what that labor is. Longer comment posted to the word 'answer'.

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