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It’s been more than 20 years since I read about the “downed cow” in a PETA newsletter and became a vegetarian on the spot. Now, out of Texas comes another veggie-maker of a story.
A whistleblower at the JBS Swift slaughterhouse in Cactus, Texas, told PETA that he went to investigate after the slaughter line was stopped, and he was horrified to discover the cause: After having been hoisted by one of her hind legs and having three of her hooves hacked off, a conscious cow was thrashing and struggling so violently that workers were unable to continue to butcher her. A supervisor finally killed the cow by shooting her twice in the head with a handgun—a full 20 minutes after she should have been rendered unconscious with a captive-bolt gun.
PETA immediately filed a complaint with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which responded by investigating the plant and initiating a “humane handling–related enforcement action.” Since then, the FSIS veterinarian at the plant has reportedly almost doubled the amount of time spent supervising the “stun and stick areas.”
Tragically, this is not an isolated incident. Because slaughter lines move so quickly and many workers are poorly trained, stunning with a captive-bolt gun (which fires a bolt into the animal’s brain) often fails to render animals unconscious. In fact, slaughter expert Temple Grandin advises slaughterhouses to strive for a failure rate of 5 percent (which adds up to millions of conscious cows who are slaughtered every year). One slaughterhouse worker told The Washington Post that he frequently has to cut the legs off completely conscious cows. “They blink. They make noises,” he said. “They die piece by piece.”
Feeling sick to your stomach yet? Take one vegetarian/vegan starter kit and call me in the morning.
Written by Alisa Mullins