Should vegans care about slaughterhouse workers?

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Part of the vegan facebook is celebrating today for the death of poultry farm worker. “Karma” I’m reading. “He deserved it”. The news say that the worker’s clothes got stuck in the grinding machine which dragged him in and ground him alive. It is not the first time that an accident happens at a slaughterhouse.

Obviously, grinding is something that happens everyday to thousands of animals and it never makes the news. To the contrary, is is a legal procedure. The slaughter of animals is something that I personally despise in any of its forms. However, there are some reasons why a worker’s death should not be a cause for celebration.

What people work at a slaughterhouse?

Most slaughterhouse workers come from very low-income classes. Very often they are immigrants just like the 44-year-old Pakistani man that got killed recently. Most people do not want to kill animals and they would choose a different job if they had the option. Nobody wants to kill babies for 8 hours every day. You might even know that even committed meat-eaters would not want to do this job. Many meat-eaters refuse to watch slaughterhouse footage because they can’t bare it – no matter how many bacon jokes they make. Who can bare it?

Most slaughterhouse workers do this job in order to survive. Many of them do have any legal documents, they are illegally in the country and they are looking for any job that could sustain them. The slaughterhouse owners take advantage of this situation and employ anyone available. Slaughterhouses always need people anyway because they all quit whenever they get the chance. A person that does not have any salary requirements and is not aware of their worker rights, is the perfect victim of a boss. We recently learnt that poultry workers were working wearing diapers and we forced to shit on themselves so they wouldn’t lose time in the the toilet.

In a slaughterhouse, both animals and humans are victims. On a different level, yes. But they are both victims of a violent industry.

Physical and mental health

Except for a small number of disturbed people that find sadistic pleasure in the slaughter of animals, the slaughterhouse workers have a hard time dong this job. There are many researches which suggest that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that stays with them for many years after they quit.

If one works for 2 years in a slaughterhouse out of necessity and gets traumatized by these experiences, when they later find a different job, they still get panic attacks. Depression is still with them.

Apart from the mental part, amputations are common. Human arms and legs get lost inside a machine and if your body is your only means to earn money, survival gets even more difficult.

For all the above, the industry does not care at all. For the industry the only thing that matters is the profit. Moreover, many accidents are never reported because many of the workers are illegally in the country and of course a compensation is never on the table. Mainly, on the table there is their dismissal or the threat of deportation for whoever dares to report an accident.

The fear is all-present to humans and animals. For the industry there are no human or non-human persons, they are all objects to exploit.

The problem is not the workers

The industry will always find people to do this job. The system creates poverty and people need a job in order to sustain themselves and their families.

Some years ago, supervisors shot their workers because they asked for their salary. And this did not happen in a slaughterhouse, it happened in fields with beautiful juicy strawberries.

Yes, the meat industry counts many more victims. But the problem is not the workers. When you have no options, you take difficult decisions. Most of us have never been at this situation. I don’t know what’s better – work in a strawberry field and get shot, work in a bakery and get abused in every way possible or work in a slaughterhouse and lose your hand?

As vegans, we have nothing against workers. They are not our enemies. They are people that work daily under hard circumstances so we can put food on our table. They are the ones who work so we can post juicy veggie burgers on our instagram.

As vegans, we must focus on informing the people on what meat, milk and eggs mean. We must stop the exploitation of animals. We must have the necessary conversations and show people that are peaceful alternatives to feeds ourselves.

Our job is to close slaughterhouses down, press the community to take this step but at the same time we should care for the people around us. If we don’t do it, the emerging vegan economy will continue exploiting and murdering the same people. Why change something that brings money in?

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