Killing animals for food is a dreadful business. No one wants to work in a slaughterhouse. Only the most vulnerable in society end up there. 

Often the work is done by those with no other options – immigrants, migrants; those with very little education or the desperate who will do anything for a few bucks.

If you think that you could never that for a living,  you should really ask yourself who is paying people to murder animals, because that is what it is. Killing a living, sentient being who does not want to die is a daunting and distressful way to earn you living.

Very few people want to know what goes on behind the high walls of the slaughterhouse. There is a reason why it is kept out of the public eye. The killing process would turn the stomach of even the most committed meat-eater.

But sometimes, you find that writers of fiction can best call to mind the process. One such writer is Ian Rankin who is best known for his brilliant Inspector Rebus series which is set in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.

In his novel, Mortal Causes, he writes the following:

Slaughterhouse workers are a different breed. 

“They worked amid brain and offal, thick blood and shit, in a sanitised environment of whitewash and piped radio music. A huge electrical unit reached down from the ceiling to suck the smell away and pump in fresh air. 

“They were working with cattle. The cows looked young and fearful, eyes bulging. They’d probably already been injected with muscle relaxants, so moved drunkenly along the line. A jolt of electricity behind either ear numbed them and quickly the wielder of the bolt-gun took aim with the cold muzzle hard against each skull. Their back legs seemed to crumple first. Already the light was vanishing from behind their eyes.

“There were a couple of large transporters in the middle of disgorging their doomed cargo. The animals were sending out distress calls as they were fed into holding pens. The entire rear area was walled in, so nobody from the outside world could glimpse the spectacle.  

He vividly recreates this doomed world of death and the dying. But there is nothing inevitable about this. Today there are so many delicious options of plant-based food that are so much better for your health, the animals and the planet.

Plant-based diets dramatically lower the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.  The more plant-strong someone’s diet is, the lower the risk their heart disease is and the lower their blood pressure is. We recognise that people who eat plant-based diets are among the healthiest people in the world.

People are realising the planetary impacts of reducing animal product consumption. The climate crisis is driven by the impact of Animal Agriculture on the planet. It is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases – more so than all fossil-fueled transport including cars, planes, trucks, buses and trains. People who eat a plant-based diet have a much lower carbon footprint compared to a diet that includes animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs.

We live in a world where agriculture is expanding onto marginal land, destroying the natural habitat that is needed for a healthy planet.  It is also driving the extinction of wild animals. There has never been a better or more urgent time to ditch animal products and transition to a plant-based diet.