Let’s stop pretending that transporting animals over long distances, in high-sided lorries to market and then to slaughterhouse, is acceptable at any level.
Two vehicles ahead of me at the traffic lights was a sheep transporter of not two, not three but four tiers. Four tiers of sheep packed tightly together in a moving metal box, on their way to the motorway and down to a massive slaughterhouse – A journey of about 100 miles.
Can you imagine the disorientation if you had always had your feet on the ground, on earth or grass and then being above that solidity, on an alien surface and being high up and moving, but not under your own volition?
To me that is mind-blowingly frightening. If I ever find myself staying in an apartment or a hotel, I long to get out and put my feet on the ground again. Animals need and deserve to maintain this contact.
To be confronted with an assault on all their senses simultaneously, at the same time as being hustled into totally unfamiliar territory, is too much to ask of any animal and all this before they reach their destination, where the smell of fear is in the air and worse to follow.
Animals can be our food but abusing them before they give us their gift is wrong. It devalues their gift and it devalues us to accept it. We reap what we sow. Animals under stress, as were these sheep, release a stress hormone, cortisol, which then remains in the carcass and is absorbed when eaten.
I have been a vegetarian for more than thirty years and I have visited the places I describe here. I have stood with factory-farmed turkeys and wept.
When animals are exploited as a means to an end, then those who consume them are also being exploited. In Native American tradition, the hunters gave thanks to and for the animal before the kill. They hunted and killed what was needed, using every part of the animal. Honouring the gift that the animal gave: recognising that we are all one and that what we do to each other is the mark of who we are.