Let’s look at how the employees of these industries are harmed while they harm the animals we use. Farming has one of the highest rates of workplace injury, which is not surprising given that animal agriculture works against the instincts of all animals (including some very large animals) to resist confinement and pain. Some of the routine tasks that take place on farms and at slaughterhouses include: tagging & other mutilations including dehorning, branding, removal of beak tips, teeth, tails and testicles without anaesthesia or pain relief; herding animals onto and off slaughterhouse trucks, inflicting electric shock, stunning, killing, skinning and dismembering, sometimes conscious animals. When we eat animal foods we not only harm and kill non-humans, we contribute to these aspects of someone else’s working day. Many farm and slaughterhouse workers work in weather extremes, and in toxic atmospheres (ammonia, dust, fungi, etc). Such is the demand for animal foods that slaughterhouses operate at tremendous speed using dangerous equipment, alongside terrified animals, on floors that are slippery with blood.
In 1997 Gail Eiznitz published Slaughterhouse, a qualitative study using over 2 million hours of interviews with slaughterhouse employees. Without exception, they told her that they have beaten, strangled, boiled, and dismembered animals alive, or have failed to report those who do. The workers described the effects the violence has had on their personal lives, with several admitting to being physically abusive or taking to alcohol and other drugs. Workers revealed that, because of the speed with which they are required to work, animals are routinely skinned while apparently alive, and still blinking, kicking, and shrieking.
Evidence shows that this violence is carried out of the slaughterhouse and perpetrated on other humans as a direct consequence of the violent workplace.
People employed in industries that exploit other animals endure some of the worst possible working conditions. Studies (MacNair, 2002; Dillard, 2008) show that they frequently suffer work related physical and psychological injury, low wages, long hours, toxic work environments & job insecurity. When we eat animal foods we pay someone else to harm and kill animals on our behalf.
The problem of human slavery is deeply entwined with our enslavement of other animals. Only a few examples are noted here.
- Trafficked humans, exploited chickens
- Trafficked Humans, killing fish
- Slavery in the Fishing Industry
- Enslaved Humans, Enslaved Cows
- Health & Safety Authority Guidance on Safe Handling of Cattle on Farms
- Food Justice: Human Labour Slavery
- Silence on the Floor, Canadian Occupational Health & Safety Magazine-range-farms-video
- Every 12 Seconds: Industrialised Slaughter and the Politics of Sight
- Fitzgerald, AJ et al (2009) Slaughterhouses and Increased Crime Rates An Empirical Analysis of the Spillover From “The Jungle” Into the Surrounding Community Organization Environment June 2009 vol. 22 no. 2 158-184
- Dillard, J. (2008). A Slaughterhouse Nightmare: Psychological Harm Suffered by Slaughterhouse Employees and the Possibility of Redress through Legal Reform. Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy, 15(2), 398.
- MacNair, R. (2002). Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing. Lincoln, NE: Praeger/Greenwood.