Flat House Farm is the latest revelation in a long series of exposés of the meat industry. It suffices to say that the images that have come from this ‘high-standards’ farm are nothing short of horrific. The emaciated skeletons of dead and dying piglets litter the floors of the barn, older pigs weighed down with huge cysts, cankers and boils. There’s blood and shit and screaming. Tiny piglets are filmed crying as their teeth are yanked out without anaesthetic: this is done so they cannot cannibalise their pen-mates when they inevitably go insane. Yet it hasn’t proven to be much of a cure for cannibalism at Flat House, where pigs devouring each other is endemic. A farm-worker cracks piglet after piglet’s head on the dark bars of a cage, as their mother watches on in vain. ‘I fucking hate doing this!’ he yells, voice seared with venom and pain impossible to fake.
The fact that this goes on in the meat industry should come as a surprise to no-one. This is just one in a long series of reports that tells us what anyone who thinks about these things already knows: that treating living beings as sacks of flesh, as commodities which attain value only once all the life has run out of their eyes, produces disgusting results. ‘Humane slaughter’ has never been anything more than a lie. How can killing something that wants to live be ‘humane’? It is the hideous language of obfuscation, invented by soulless profiteers: ‘execution for flesh’ is entirely more accurate.
‘I’m against animal cruelty’ goes the chorus of voices, those well-meaning, creature-loving carnivores shaking their heads morosely. Then stop paying for it. Pipe-dreams of sustainable and ethical animal farms are just that: fantasies. Put your money where your mouth is – think of those pigs screaming and their gargantuan, suppurating corpses when you eat your bacon.
Yet people don’t even want to know about it. They’re against animal cruelty, meaning they don’t need to see the videos; but they don’t want to change either. A sinister, faux-righteous omertà descends upon the crowd and they refuse to acknowledge the obvious and immense suffering being caused for the pitiful, embarrassingly trivial pursuit of a bacon sarnie.
This all feels like screeching into the void. It’s all probably painting that trite and hackneyed image in your head; the angry, triggered, vegan. I am angry, but more than that I’m sad. I don’t think most people want this to happen. I do believe that people care about animals. Yet why, why do people keep shutting their eyes and ears to the most obvious connection in the world – that those rosy rashers on your plate were taken by force from the carved-up corpse of a pig, a creature that can cognitively outperform a three year old child, which was tortured and killed for your benefit. It’s we who are responsible for Flat House Farm, as much as anyone else. We can whine and legislate and make our stands against animal cruelty but as long as we are paying men to redden their hands with the lives of chickens, pigs, lambs and cows then animal cruelty will remain a spot on our collective conscience that cannot be washed out.
As I write this as I look out over the fields of Surrey, an archetypal British countryside, England’s green and pleasant land. The grass is green, the trees are lush and the hills are gold with wheat. But all the wells and cisterns of our wide and beautiful country are filled with the blood of sentient beings. Need we keep throwing more and more sacrifices onto the rancid altar of greed? Of selfishness? Over four billion animals killed in the UK this year alone. Do we need more? The wells are overrun, the aquifers full, the dams are bursting with blood. Yet we won’t stop killing sensitive, innocent creatures until all the ziggurat is slick with gore, till the Sumerian cants are deafening and a new flood washes over the land, stinking of our callousness, our hypocrisy and painting this green land offal-black.
Flat House Farm joins the list – St Helens Farm, Moy Farm – of farms found guilty of terrible abuse this month alone. Commercial meat is industrial cruelty. Take the burden of these crimes off your chest and choose a vegan lifestyle. Otherwise don’t shrink like a coward, don’t pig-headedly suggest that animal cruelty isn’t your bag – look at the images from Flat House Farm and embrace them as your legacy.