I woke up the morning of the anti speciesist vigil at a chicken slaughterhouse determined to go, but feeling emotionally low, almost bereft. I can get that way sometimes, especially knowing what I know about the enslavement of other species by humans. I try now just to accept the sadness and ride it out till it dissipates, like a fog receding into the warming and trying to be sunny air. It was cold out, a mere three degrees Centigrade (37.4 Fahrenheit), certainly not unusual for this time of year, but still not feeling normal to those of us who have been riding high on the intoxicating rays of the sun and summer temps. I chuckled to myself as I realized that I would have to go on a hunt in some as yet unpacked boxes from our recent move, looking for gloves, a hat, a scarf and even perhaps my winter coat. I decided that I would rather be too hot than too cold if I am going to be standing on a street corner for two or so hours.
Then, as it always does, my mind turned to the animals for whom I was planning to advocate today. Are they at least warm? The short answer to that is unlikely. I have no idea of the history of the chickens who were crowded into orange crates, piled high on transport trucks. Did they spend the night in the truck? Was the truck parked outside as the temperature plummeted to near freezing? Did they have any food and water available to them and how long was the trip in the freezing temperature? Given the current, mainstream and pervasive view among farmers, transport companies, slaughterhouses, governments and consumers that these living, feeling, emotional beings are merely commodities, I feel fairly confident in stating that no comfort or compassion or justice or respect was offered to them on any level.
Out of curiosity and always because I like to know the facts, I visited The Canadian Justice Laws Website, which outlines the regulations regarding the welfare of “livestock” (their word, not mine) during transport. Here is a little bit of what I found.
Food and Water for Animals in Transit
148. (1) Subject to subsections (2), (3) and (7), no person shall confine in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel
(a) equines, swine or other monogastric animals for longer than 36 hours; or
(b) cattle, sheep, goats or other ruminants for longer than 48 hours.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to ruminants that will reach their final destination in Canada where they may be fed, watered and rested without being confined longer than 52 hours.
(3) No person shall confine chicks of any species without food and water for longer than 72 hours from the time of hatching.
We are talking here about a minimum of 36 hours and a maximum of 72 hours deprived of food and water. That is days, folks!!! And who knows if these cruel regulations are even respected and enforced. That is another post for another day.
Now I am not saying that improved conditions during transport would make the transporting okay or acceptable on any level. This is after all an anti speciesist vigil that I attended, organized by a passionate and dedicated local Montreal Anti Speciesism group, Mouvement de Libération. And as such, I and my fellow activists stood in solidarity for the abolition of the slavery of all species.
The very fact that The Canadian Justice Laws department okays said deprivation during transport speaks volumes about our fight to end speciesism. How can we disabuse people of the notion that it is okay to place inherent value on some species and not others, if we do not address and denounce the ongoing atrocities normalized and perpetrated by our governments, our industries, our retailers and our consumers?
So even though on this day, outside this slaughterhouse, I advocated for chickens in particular, I am really advocating for all animals. Tomorrow or another day it could be cows, or pigs or lambs or dolphins, or apes who are all symbolic of our biggest shame as humans: the shame that we reduce living, feeling beings to the status of food for our greedy and disgust worthy palates, that we sacrifice billions of these beings yearly for our inherited traditions and celebrations, our fashion sense, our status filled desire for more and more stuff made from the skins, fur and wool of animals, our warped sense about who we can exploit for our own amusement and entertainment. Wrap it all into one convenient ball and call it greed.
Annie’s Vegan View
They were babies really, only about forty five days old, destined to die within the next little while for someone’s dinner.
Their eyes seemed almost vacant, certainly devoid of any knowledge of kindness, compassion, justice, their normal lives as chickens having been denied to them since birth.
Their eyes haunt me and also inspire me to continue to seek justice for their lives not lived and for the lives of those to come.
May all beings be happy and free.