Toronto Pig Save

Toronto Pig Save

Slaughterhouse #1

Slaughterhouse #1

When it was over (for me at least), I opened the door of the car where my husband was waiting and settled heavily onto the passenger seat. I sat there for a few moments, numb with the stink of death and desperation assaulting my nostrils, my emotions and my brain. I could literally smell the blood of all the doomed prisoners in those death for hire trucks. The fact that I was sunburned because I  had forgotten my hat and parched because I did not have any water, were minor annoyances compared to that which I had  just witnessed outside what Anita Kranjc and Toronto Pig Save described as follows:

Ryding Regency Meat Packers is the most violent place in Toronto.

With the acrid smell of suffering still lingering in my memory nearly two months later, I must  say that I agree.

Do I regret making the  5 hour trip down the highway to attend this June 14th, 2016 24 hour vigil organized by Toronto Pig, Cow and Chicken Saves?

Definitely not, but I do oh so regret what I saw there on  Glen Scarlett Road in Toronto, home to Ryding Regency Meat Packers Ltd., Genesis Meat Packers Inc and St Helen’s Meat Packers Limited.

AR Activists

AR Activists

Bite Size Vegan

Bite Size Vegan

There were several players in the scenario that played out on this sunny day on that foul smelling and dismal street. Let’s set the scene. There were the AR activists, the truckers carrying the doomed prisoners, the media and possibly the police (although I did not see them), the slaughterhouse workers and the occasional passersby. As the AR activists trickled in from the morning vigil at Fearmans Pork Inc, the energy in the air began to crackle with anticipation. People discussed the morning happenings at Fearmans, including an altercation between an AR activist and a flesh throwing trucker.

Would something similar happen here?

Would someone be arrested?

On the Slaughterhouse Grounds

On the Slaughterhouse Grounds

Closing the Slaughterhouse Gate

Closing the Slaughterhouse Gate

DXE (Manchester contingency, I believe) soon arrived with some signs, a bullhorn and a plan in place for a peaceful, respectful vigil. We were all gathered for a group picture when a tractor trailer turned the corner at the end of the street and slowly made its way toward the slaughterhouse gate which, as it swung open, revealed a gaping, frightening hole eager to swallow up the lives of the poor, frightened cows.  Activists took off at a run despite the protestations of DXE and followed the truck into those gates of death and onto the slaughterhouse grounds.

Everyone was yelling, slaughterhouse workers were struggling to usher people out and to close the gate on activists looking for redemption for their bovine friends and fellow earthlings. One female activist warned a slaughterhouse worker not to put his hands on her again. The gate finally clanged shut and the activists were left clinging to the outside of the fence somewhat bereft and desperate for a different, just outcome.

Slaughterhouse Workers

Slaughterhouse Worker

Pensive Chap

Pensive Chap

As I walked over to join in, I could hear some activists talking to employees who, for some reason, were hanging around on the other side of the fence. They were all dressed in orange or blue garb, some sporting hairnets and helmets. One tall fellow was smirking and being very belligerent  (a defensive posture, I imagine), but a couple of others were quiet, just listening. One man in particular caught my attention. He seemed pensive, sad even as he made this startling admission:

They (the cows) do cry real tears when they realize what is happening.

But it is just a reflex, nothing more. (a reflex of his own perhaps when he realized the potential impact of his disclosure).

I plucked up my courage and engaged these men in conversation, the main goal of which was to be respectful, yet truthful about why we were here and what needs to change. I can’t remember now exactly what I said, but we did talk about:

the 65 billion plus  farmed animals and  the one hundred million tons of aquatic animals who die every year for our conditioned  and hijacked palates.

the enslavement of other species being completely unnecessary for humans to thrive.

the industries which use other species for profit as unacceptable.

the planet being on the verge of collapse because of farmed animal agriculture and over fished oceans.

our peaceful goal.

I encouraged them to become informed by watching COWSPIRACY:The Sustainability Secret and then thanked them for listening.

Our three minutes!

Our three minutes!

Offering Comfort

Offering Comfort

Excrement Covered Truck

Excrement Covered Truck

And that is when another tractor trailer turned the corner and  at the request of DXE, idled outside the gate  for three minutes to allow us to approach and to interact with the cows held therein. This is first time in my life that I have been so up close and personal with living beings about to be murdered (let’s not mince words).

I stood maybe two feet from the truck, lifted up my phone and just started clicking the shutter, hoping to get a shot or two that would aptly portray the horror I was feeling. The stench of imminent death was choking the air around the truck. Inside, cows covered with excrement rained on them from the babies stored on the top level, were stamping the shit covered floor of the truck, bellowing out their fear and staring at us with wide and disbelieving eyes. One cow looked right at me and held my gaze as the tears came and I whispered a perhaps unheard, heartfelt apology.

Connecting with a cow

Connecting with a cow

Then the three minutes were up, the gate opened and the cows disappeared. One more truck came and went and I sit here today knowing that the cows I saw in those trucks are all dead and many, many more since then.

Annie’s Vegan View

On this day and every day I ask myself what more can we do to effect change, to break through the wall of human disconnectedness, to liberate all species caught in our various death for profit industries?

And then I remember the words of Anita Kranjc: Be vegan, be active and bear witness.

This is the vegan message in a nutshell.

Veganism is now.

May all beings be happy and free.

Anne

 

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8 thoughts on “This Vegan’s Experience at the 24 Hour Toronto Pig Save Vigil

  • August 11, 2016 at 10:31 am
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    Hi Anne, I am writing this again because the first comment I left didn’t appear? Thank you so much for attending this and also for sharing your experiences with us. Your day sounded horrendous and I suspect it will be one you will never forget too. I have nothing but admiration for you for bearing witness like this. The pic you took of the cow had me in tears and the conditions inside that truck looked like he’ll itself. I’ve been thinking of attending one of these myself in the UK but after reading this I can see I am going to have to toughen myself up first. I worry that if I went I would end up knocking someone’s block off. I don’t think I would be able to help myself if I was there witnessing it all unfolding. I worry about this. Great work Anne. You are an absolute legend! Rachel

    Reply
    • August 12, 2016 at 10:48 am
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      Hi Rachel,
      Thanks so much for your words of support. I can understand your feelings about attending a vigil. They are not easy events of which to be a part. We are all legends in our commitment to standing up to social convention and bias by speaking up and out for the end to the use of other species for our human wants, not needs.
      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply
  • August 11, 2016 at 10:54 am
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    Anne, you described your experience so vividly that I felt as though I was there with you. I always cry at the thought of those poor, terrified animals who could smell the death smells just as you could.
    Every time I pass one of these trucks carrying animals to slaughter, I shed tears. Even from inside the car, I can smell their wretched state. Do other people not see these trucks – in all kinds of weather where the animals have no protection – and question and wonder what it’s like for these petrified souls?
    I wish it was mandatory for every person who wants to eat meat, to go to a slaughterhouse. Even if they do not witness the actual slaughter, they will still see the horror the animals are subjected to for their wants, NOT needs. Nowadays, there is no excuse for not knowing.
    It is because of people like you, that the awareness and knowledge is spreading. Keep up the great work that you do, Anne.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2016 at 10:37 am
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    Hey Cindy,
    Thank you for the support. It means a lot to me. I am not sure what it will take to change hearts and minds en masse. I do think that the busy-ness of our lives does not help. We are so focused on buying stuff, getting stuff done that our focus is overloaded and we can’t seem to absorb anything beyond our own human wants, not needs.
    I remain hopeful that that people soon start to take the issue of other species liberation seriously.
    Take care,
    Anne

    Reply
  • August 13, 2016 at 12:07 pm
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    Thank you very much for this post, Anne. I’m clenching my jaw and holding back tears to write this comment and I am going to temper what I say now very carefully because it is the right thing to do. Your words are enough and I thank you for having the courage and strength to go through that experience and share it. Bearing witness is horrific. I’ve never been to a slaughterhouse, but I had a cow-friend (she’s on HGV’s site) and I knew her for over a year before the ramps got put up in the “pasture” and next the truck with the cartoon drawing of a happy cow showed up…the truck that proudly proclaimed (in German) Bio-Meat.

    Thank you for the love and courage you give to our fellow beings and to this community. And I’m sorry (can’t think of a better term at the moment, but you know what I mean) for what you witnessed…the pain must be unbelievable…and that’s just for those of us looking on who “get it” and care. For those doomed souls…I am just so sorry.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2016 at 5:51 pm
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    Hi Krissa,
    You are most welcome.so sorry about your cow-friend. We vegans do seem to connect in a special way with these beings who have no control over their own lives. Shocking, what they go through all for our wants, not needs!
    I too am very sorry for the doomed souls and that is why I will continue to vigil and bear witness event though it can be emotionally draining.
    Take care,
    Anne

    Reply
  • August 17, 2016 at 5:16 pm
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    Basically I can only echo what Rachel, Cindy and Krissa have all said.

    I could barely get through this post, so as important as it is, and as grateful as I am that people such as yourself are able to act as witness, I’m not sure I could attend a vigil. Not without shutting down completely, and having my misanthropic tendencies flare up to an extent that they might never come down again to more manageable levels. Which would render me even less effective than I probably already am. So thank you for being able to do what more feeble folk like myself may not be able to.

    Reply
    • August 22, 2016 at 11:09 am
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      Hi Friend,
      I get where you are coming from. I have not been able to watch the film Earthlings and quickly scroll past violent images that turn up on my Facebook feed.
      I also think we can surprise ourselves if we push the envelope a bit. That having been said, there is little point in participating in events that may cause us to be less effective. I guess balance is key.
      Take care,
      Anne

      Reply

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