Unexpected witness to the absolute sham that is 'humane meat'
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Jim Becker, Seattle vegan activist
November 2017

Eventually, they coaxed the calf back toward the edge of the barn where, to my shock and horror, a man raised a rifle and shot him in the head. He fell to the ground and his body spasmed for a minute or so before he finally was still.

pigs peace sanctuary
Photo courtesy of Pigs Peace Sanctuary

I spent the morning building a fence at Pigs Peace Sanctuary and bore unexpected witness to the absolute sham that is "humane meat."

Across the road from the sanctuary is a small farm, the kind you see romanticized on TV and in print ads as the humane and responsible alternative to factory farming. I saw some activity by a large barn over there, but was so busy with my own work that I wasn't paying attention to what they were doing.

A white refrigerated truck pulled up to the barn and, almost immediately, a young male cow took off running away from the property. One of the farm hands ran after him, but couldn't catch him before he got to the road, which was thankfully not busy. He ran down the road, but was cut off by a hastily-dispatched pickup truck, so he turned back.

He spent another five minutes or so in the yard across from me in a delicate standoff between two farm hands who tried to push him back toward the barn from a distance.

See the calf behind a tree (far right), trying to avoid being killed...

I stood on my side of the road, taking video and telling them he wanted to be free, which they laughed at. The cow looked right at me while I spoke.

Eventually, they coaxed him back toward the edge of the barn where, to my shock and horror, a man raised a rifle and shot him in the head. He fell to the ground and his body spasmed for a minute or so before he finally was still.

He was left there as they loaded a mother and her calf (still alive) into a trailer. Eventually, they hooked his body up to the same pickup truck that had cut off his escape and dragged it to the other side of the barn.

dead calf
After being shot in the head, the dead calf was dragged to the barn...

There, they beheaded and skinned him and hoisted his corpse up to be cut into pieces with an electric saw.

butchered calf
Very few moments later, the calf is butchered...

I see ads from places like Chipotle and Blue Apron that reference "responsibly raised" or "humane meat" all the time. They make it seem like something noble and beautiful, like the animals are living enriched, quality lives and are laying down those lives willingly so that we can enjoy meat products that don't prick the conscience. I've heard people who purport to run "humane" farms say that they put the animals to sleep before they kill them. This is all bullshit. They die violently and are left on the ground to bleed out. I knew this, but had never actually seen it until today.

Judy Woods, who founded Pigs Peace, said that any time that white truck is there, it means it's a kill day. Indeed, I heard at least three more gunshots before I left.

If the person living across the road from that farm knows what that truck's presence means, you can be sure the cows who live there and see the slaughter up close know what it means. This cow knew what was coming. He saw an opportunity to run, to perhaps live, and took that last, desperate chance to get away from certain death. Who else wouldn't take the same chance in that situation? Please think about your choices and how they affect others, even those you have never considered to be intelligent or fully aware of what's going on. They are, and they need us to speak for them now more than ever. If you wouldn't be able to pull that trigger yourself, why are you willing to pay someone else to do it?

I never said what I was thankful for this week, but, as painful as it was, today was a good reminder. I am thankful for places like Pigs Peace, where animals who are not treasured by our society for who they are get a chance to live without fear or human-induced suffering. I'm thankful that I have a husband and lots of close friends with whom I can live my values and be a part of the solution. And I'm thankful that, every day, more and more people are making the connection and going vegan. I hope you're next.

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