Practical Issues > Factory Farming - Index > Slaughter - Index
How visit in the slaughterhouse changed my life

by Filip Barche

I will never forget that I was ashamed (not once) that I am a human being, the race that is able to the most awful things. Visit in slaughterhouse changed my life within one day. Changed my whole life. I was born there once more -- as a completely different man. I started fighting for animals' rights.

My first steps as a vegetarian began when I was a child, at the beginning of the primary school. I still have one event in my mind. Religion class in the church in my hometown. There was a priest (he seemed to be very kind), was talking about love-- Suddenly a girl sitting next to the door heard a quiet voice repeated itself. She ran and opened that door. She saw nothing but suddenly a kitten ran from somewhere and laid himself down near the radiator.

Priest shouted - ''throw that animal away''!!! I could not believe my own ears, a man, that seemed to be the soul of goodness added - ''this is the house of the God, there is no place here for such a stray''!!! I thought I was dreaming.. It was freezing outside, winter -- very cold winter.. children, especially girls started shouting - '' dear priest this kitten just wants to get warm, please let him stay''!!! I can hear those words even now -- 20 years after this event.. priest shouted - ''throw him away''!!!! and that Little girl who came on religion lesson to listen abort love, with tears In Her eyes shouted to the priest -'' you cannot do that''!!! and the priest told her -''if you want to be accepted, do what I tell you''..

So she, with tears in her eyes, took that kitten away from the ''house of God'' and left him outside. Came back, crying so much, trembling all over her body until the lesson was over. Next day I was passing by the church and noticed THAT kitten -- was dead, froze over.. Then I knew that adults are not so perfect as they think of themselves. That was the first brutal lesson in my life. And that was just the beginning -- worse was supposed to come..

And it came, few years later. I saw many things, things that are hard to understand for ''ordinary'' people. Even the worst nightmare is not so scary.. and the worst was that I was NOT dreaming -- I have seen it!! I will never forget I was ashamed that I am a human being, the race that is able to do the most awful and brutal things that it is even hard to imagine. The visit in the slaughterhouse changed my life within one day. Changed whole my life. I was born there and found sense of my life.

I was in technical gastronomy school. I remember as if it was today.. I woke up and wondered, should I go to school or not. Technology and product researching -- I never liked that. We had 6 of those lessons one by one. Cooking in the school with the elements of theory. I decided to go, though I was not quite sure if I really want to, it was Friday. I was quite surprised when I heard that we are supposed to go to the slaughterhouse. And that was the first time in my life I saw the slaughterhouse. That what I saw, was beyond my imagination and changed the way of my thinking. I remember -- the sun was shining.. in front of the slaughterhouse surrounded by the wall I heard something like a cry, fright, yell.. We got into..

The yard was quite big. Next to the fence I saw few trucks full of animals. Cows, pigs -- they all were waiting for their last route.. were waiting to be killed by those men.. voices of all those frightened creatures I can hear even now. We passed them by.. were looking at us, those sad eyes, asking for help. I could not understand what they were asking for.. Suddenly trailer was opened. Some animals got off, others were standing frightened with trembling legs, did not want to go.. Few men got onto the truck and started beating them, kicking, hitting.. Cows were frightened and started running away.

We got into the slaughterhouse. The fear, fright was in the air, animals' voices. We were being shown the meat is produced. I will never forget animals standing in the corner, watching others standing in front of them and being killed with cruelty. Fright, despair and big cows' and pigs' eyes -- that was very devastating. Not a single animal wanted to be killed I could see that perfectly. They had no choice. Massive butchers had their own methods to make animals give up. They were pushing them, beating, knocking them down and dragging along. I will never forget those cows -- still alive hanging on the hooks waiting to be slaughtered. Blood was everywhere, on the walls, on the floor, on butchers' clothes. Animals' yells -- they were asking for help, for help that was not supposed to come.. suddenly one butcher came up to the cow that was in agony, put the cap near to her neck, waited to be filled with blood and drank it.. that beats everything--

Things that I saw were, unfortunately, real. I can compare it with nothing because even the most scary horror seems to be just a fairy-tale for kids. For all those who work in the slaughterhouse, animals, their suffering -- that was nothing special. Just work. I do not describe everything I have seen in details but I suppose not only one person can think that it is ''tasteless''. Even Satan personally would not have made such cruel and awful things as a man did -- up.

I know one thing and I am very sure about that -- there is not such a thing as ''humane ways of slaughter''. There are only nice words. The moment, when the animal is slaughtered, is always horrifying and scary. Animals will always be afraid and will always know that they are going to be killed!!! Nothing will change it and when someone talks about ''humane ways of slaughter'' -- is simply ridiculous. I am sure that people say so because they do not want to admit that the are the same as butchers are.. They pay for that, so they try to cheat themselves and want to believe in ''humane ways of slaughter''. That is WRONG!!! That visit changed whole my life. Those 2 hours gave me more than anything else. I decided -- I will never ever again eat meat and will do something myself to help animals. I became vegetarian within one second. The I knew I am a new man.

After few days of thinking I decided to help animals actively. I went to the local government that helps animals. At the beginning I was just doing simple office work until the day someone called and asked for help for a dog. Someone very rich was treating him badly. I went there and I saw few--months--old dog and the blood was on his neck. The dog-collar was grown in his neck. He stood next to the kennel so I decided to take him away from that place. I saw a massive man right behind me trying to hit me he had axe in his hand. Luckily I managed to run away with the dog. The dog survived, though it took time for his wounds to close up.

That intervention was made a long time before the Act states about animals' rights was enacted. After this intervention I knew that the helping animals is that what I want to do in my life. So for almost 20 years I have been helping them. As much as I can.

I remember another event, it happened 7 years ago in Torun, Poland. I was sitting with my friends in the cafe drinking a cup of tea when suddenly my phone rang. A woman was crying, and she told me that someone killed her dog. I went there and I saw a dog, well -- his remains laying in the snow, blood was everywhere, he has no head, no legs.. He must have been tortured before someone killed him. After investigation we found a man who did it -- it was the dog owner's neighbour. It was a woman about 50 years old, at first she did not want to admit she killed the dog, she stated that she believed in God and catholic church. The woman had so many holy pictures in her home. I suppose her ''faith'' had nothing to do with love and goodness if she could be so cruel.. The dog had 17 wounds, crushed head and had no eyes.. Maybe someone may think that I am describing awful things and it is enough. But believe me, I saw much much worse things that this one..

One day I received a phone call that in the farm near to the forest someone keeps animals that are hungry and dirty. It was hard to find that farm but I did it. I saw poor cows, they were starving, dirty and very sad. They looked at me with big sad eyes. Their eyes said everything, were asking for help. In the barn I saw about 20 cows that were standing in their own excrements. Pigs were running outside, some of them were coming to cows and cows tried to warm them up, licking them, trying to ''cheer them up''. It was seen that animals were trying to help each other. The owner ''forgot'' about them and just did not feed and water them for few weeks.. Animals felt that I was coming to help them so they look in my eyes trying to touch me..

I can tell you -- there is nothing better than contact with the animals, no book, no movie is better than that.. someone who has never seen what a man can do to animals maybe will not understand it. But when you help them it is enough when they look into your eyes -- it is the most beautiful ''Thank you''..

I will never forget a horse that was beaten for 2 weeks by his owner and was not fed. He tried to survive so he was eating wooden beams in the barn. He was so skinny that was unable to stand up. Was laying in his own excrements and mud. I think he was dreaming about heaven for animals, not for human beings, because a man for him was worse that Satan.. When I first saw that poor horse I was really ashamed that I am a man.. I really wanted to help him as much as I can. Good people helped him, we received money, unfortunately that poor animal died. He was too weak to survived, I was holding him in my hands when he was dying. I remember his eyes -- he was happy leaving that world. He looked at me and gave me everything he had, I laid down myself next to him, I felt his breath, I did not want him to feel endangered. I was crying so much but I was also happy that he was not suffering anymore..

Sometimes people ask me if it is hard to be a vegetarian. As if being vegetarian would be penance or suffering.. it is just the way you see the world, the way you see things.. Everything I see helping the animals makes me be sure that what I do is right and I have chosen the right way that day in the slaughterhouse.

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Few words about author
-- first trial and sentence in Poland, a man was accused and sentenced for killing the horse. The Local Court in Wegrow, Poland 2000
-- getting an award for activity for the benefit of animals. GAJA CLUB � SEK 1998
-- first trial and sentence in Poland, a man was accused and sentenced for killing the dog with the cruelty. The Local Court in Chelmno, Poland 1998
-- TOZ inspector certificate 1998
-- Humane education certificate 1998
-- Law certificate 1997
-- course - how to run the shelter / management and marketing course Experience in working with mass media -- Polish Tv (TVN, TVP1, TVP2) . reports in Polish TV, News, Documents etc 1998
-- publicizes in Tv about Animals' Rights 1998
-- Bachelor Degree. Specialization -- ''Aggression and violence towards to animals among pupils in primary schools''

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