Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from

Slaughterhouse Worker to Vegan Advocate

From Doug Maw, SARX: For All God's Creatures
July 2022

Former slaughterhouse worker Doug Maw offers some eye-opening insights into the meat industry, the enormous challenges of working in an abattoir, and the hope and healing which comes through faith in Christ and vegan advocacy.

Turkey slaughterhouse
Turkeys are caught by hand and thrown into cages on a truck heading to the slaughterhouse (credit: Andrew Skowron/We Animals Media)

How do people, including those who eat meat, react when you say you used to be a slaughterhouse worker?

Most people are surprised, repulsed or shocked when they learn that I used to work in slaughterhouses. I strongly suspect that people don’t like to imagine a regular human just like them doing that work. It forces them to confront the issues first-hand. If they never meet a slaughterhouse worker, then it’s a reality that they never have to come face to face with.

Some people have cut me out of their lives when they learned that I did this work. It has cost me relationships with fellow vegans who couldn’t cope with knowing that about me.

Occasionally meat-eaters might respond by trying to make a joke out of it. I take this form of bravado as a self-defense mechanism against looking at what slaughterhouse work is all about; a truly horrific experience for both people and animals.

Using your inside knowledge of the industry, could you talk through the process of what happens to an animal from the time it enters the slaughterhouse until the time it leaves?

When an animal enters a slaughterhouse, it is generally herded into a holding pen with others and their time there is usually short. When they arrive, they have been transported in very cramped and stressful conditions and often afraid, or even unable, to get off the vehicles. Many animals will have suffered injuries during the process of transportation, some even arriving dead. They are pushed, prodded or “encouraged” with an electric prod (i.e. cattle-prod), a knife or anything else in reach to get them in.



Return to Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article