It was an unusually warm Decembers morning almost 14 deg C. Traffic was heavier than usual. The normal commute to the office for me is probably the same as it is for many, the dull trudge of motorway driving, nondescript blurs of multiple colours and shapes passing by my window as I progress at a never hasty enough pace. Only randomly catching the eye of other work goers through misted windows. The knowing nod that suggests we will get there eventually. This morning on the way to the office a truck passed me, tall silver sided, slatted, with strange cooling fans built in. It took me a couple of seconds before I realized what this thing that resembled a Jawa sandcrawler was, It was a “livestock” transport truck. As it moved further along beside me I could see faeces dripping down from parts of the upper floor to the outer walls. This clinical machine, cold and precise was stained with the waste of its cargo. Animals under severe stress can easily lose bowel control.The lane that the transport was in slowed and ground to a halt and so I passed by again, creeping in almost silence like the thief in the night, not wanting to wake my victim. I can not tell you how many of these trucks have passed me by or I them over the years, hundreds, thousands, who knows? How many souls had passed me by on their final journey? These ghost ships passing like some innocuous form. Traffic ahead looked impenetrable but I plotted my escape, ahead was a road to freedom, a slip road sent by the gods that lead to an overpass to remove my from my automotive hell. As soon as I saw my break in the conveyor or undertaking cars I took it. I dove headlong into the slip lane and grasped my liberty. Rising above all the other poor mortals who remained on the three laned clogged artery like blood cells jammed behind a wall of plaque.
As I rose above the other lifeless forms below I came eye to eye with the inhabitants of the transport. Pigs, there they were, what looked like hundreds of pigs, three layers of packed, petrified, pink pigs! I made direct eye contact with several of these passengers. One looked like it was relieved, I wondered why this creature would be relieved to be in this totally alien environment. When we think of pigs we think of pigs in a field rolling in muck and foraging for food, using their strong yet sensitive snouts to root out something tasty to eat, after all pigs are better at hunting for truffles than dogs, they are so good at it they can sniff them out from 3 feet underground! The sad reality is that the vast majority of pigs in the Ireland (92%) and the U.K. in the US it is at 97% are not raised in idyllic green pastures, they are born and raised in hellish concrete tombs. They will only see the sun on the day of their transport to their slaughter. These tombs are built for one purpose and one purpose only, profit. Concrete slatted floors allow for the excrement and urine to pass from the living quarters of these intelligent, social and emotionally capable animals in order to minimize the labour that has to be employed to care for them. The sows are kept in an almost perpetual state of pregnancy, by being forcibly impregnated (p3) while restrained with their offspring removed and fattened up to be sold off for slaughter. Sometimes I think we can just gloss over terms like artificial insemination without a moments thought as it is still almost science fiction to the general population, not something that really happens. It does, almost 100% of all sows are artificially inseminated, think about that for just 1 minute, a creature that is smart enough to recognize its own reflection and use a mirror as a tool to find food is stimulated both chemically and physically by the farmer, has an insemination rod with a balloon of semen that has again been manually taken from a boar squeezed into its cervix. When we as loving caring people actually think about what happens in these places how can we not be utterly disgusted? But what of the pig? why did it look relieved? Do I really have to ask myself that question again?
There are obviously huge welfare concerns and cases every year of abuse and neglect from all across the world by greedy people who care nothing for the right to life of these creatures. But there in lies the problem, what rights do these animals have? Am I just being anthropomorphic? I cant seem to justify after all my research why these animals should be acceptable as food. During my animal welfare course the five freedoms were discussed. To the best of my ability I can not find anywhere in a pigs life that these freedoms are afforded to them. We brutalize them from their birth to their death all so we can eat their cancer causing flesh? Yet we call them dirty animals? To call someone a pig is an insult. Is this just more social conditioning in order to make what we do somehow acceptable? After all it is easier to destroy something that you hate or feel is inferior to you, it has been used by bad men for centuries to take what they want from those who are weaker than them.