Why Should Vegans Care About Slaughterhouse Workers?
Too often, non vegans accuse vegans of not caring about human rights issues, and this is an unfair picture to paint. Vegans must continue to openly discuss the rampant abuse of slaughterhouse workers as they fight for worldwide justice, but there will always be a few naysayers who don’t understand why working conditions apply to the vegan cause. Why should we care about slaughterhouse workers if they’re working in the exact buildings that we so vehemently object to?
Because of who slaughterhouse workers are.
Slaughterhouse workers are, more often than not, simply working parts in a larger capitalist machine. Like you or I, they have families and lives to support, and have been dragged into a largely unfavorable profession because nobody else wants those jobs, and because slaughterhouse workers come from the easiest populations to prey on. The turnover rate for meat processing plants is at an unfathomable one hundred percent in many plants, so meat suppliers will take literally anyone who comes to their doors as a potential hire. While the numbers are obviously impossible to track, there is a massive draw for undocumented and migrant workers by the meat industry, who actively prey upon them by offering faked documentation to carry, and in turn, threaten to out them to the federal government for deportation. The meat industry relies on both the terror of animals and humans in order to keep operating, and to ignore this as a vegan or as a non vegan, is an act of great ignorance and cruelty.
Because it’s supremely ableist to ignore a mental and physical health plight.
Humans exploited by factory farms are deeply affected by the terrible health conditions that come with working in a meat plant. The first thing I usually see when larger vegan organizations write about the health plight of slaughterhouse workers is usually a comment by readers that they “deserve it.” There’s always those that say, “how can you dare care about PTSD in these workers when they are taking part in murder?” I implore you, if you aren’t a person living with mental illness, neurological damage, or trauma, don’t trap yourself in these limited lines of thinking. To live with the mental anguish of post traumatic stress disorder, or any mental illness, is a certain kind of hell that most survivors would not wish on anyone. This doesn’t help the larger conversations about mental health in the United States (or whatever country you live in) to ever say that someone has earned the pain of mental illness. Physically, workers have been affected by motor disorders, injuries from repetitive motions, and dangerous conditions. Employees are not people to the meat industry, they are merely supplies that do not have any kind of health to consider, and the industry must be criticized for this.
Because hidden camera videos only show so much.
When we think of slaughterhouse workers, we think of the assholes kicking over chickens and bashing cow’s heads in from the expose videos that are widely shared in the vegan community. However, consider that the majority of jobs in meat processing plants are violently fast, automatic, and repetitive. The entire industry deserves to have charges pressed against them, not just the workers who break the “rules” of the slaughterhouse. As I’ve repeated, this is a dangerous machine that robs human workers of their humanity without so much as a second thought, so focusing on individual abusers is silly and takes away from the larger issue.
Because it gives credit to the humane meat meat movement- which isn’t humane at all.
The more we paint factory farm workers as evil, the more power it gives to those who “lovingly” raise animals for exploitation in their own backyards. There is no such thing as humane meat, and demonizing the workers in factory farms helps to feed this dichotomy. There is nothing kind, nor humane, about raising an animal as a pet, “giving it love,” and slaughtering it for human consumption, yet this is seen as the most viable alternative to giving up meat by most consumers. Luckily, there’s an ethical alternative, veganism, and it’s actively hurt by the “factory farmed vs. humane meat” argument that people tend to so passionate about.
There’s no reason to not include slaughterhouse workers when we talk about a brighter vegan future, so please do keep this in mind the next time reports come out about the abuse of employees.