My first day at the slaughterhouse

Profile of a new vegan: Faith was a meat eater all her life, until she spent a day working in a slaughterhouse. That night she became vegan and a voice for all animals. Here is the raw emotional story she sent us in the days after her eyes were opened.

Day 1: Oh my god! Sorry for sending this message but I've always eaten meat and dairy and never thought twice about it. I've been out of work for over two years and I finally took a job at the abattoir. I didn't think much of it but was just relieved to have a job. I lasted one day. I couldn't do it. It is the most horrific, horrible thing I've ever witnessed in my life! And this was a supposed humane one.

I came home on Friday in tears. And the smell! The smell of death, I can still smell it! I can't sleep or get those images out of my head. I never ever want to touch meat again. I didn't think it would be like that. I've never tried new diets or life style changes because my grandparents raised us on a dairy farm. This was just horrific and I spent last night physically sick and I've had six showers, but can still smell the blood and death. I don't know how I'm going to do it. I have two kids but we are never ever buying meat again. I want to try vegan. Just the thought of buying and cooking meat now makes me feel sick. I lasted one day at the job and it was all I could do. And the first week was supposed to be just watching and I had no idea!

I feel so stupid because a few of my friends have gone vegan and I thought they were just crazy and following a new hippy trend. Now I feel bad for judging their decisions. I was told to watch documentaries and I never did. But I never thought it was that horrific. I thought the stun killed the animals instantly. It doesn't! They're alive and scream. And even if they were dead, the blood. OMG! I don't think I will ever ever be able to even walk near a meat department or butcher shop again.

Day 2: I am sitting here tonight and it still goes through my mind. Being out of work for so long I was so pleased to have a job. I believed everything the media wanted me to. It's humane! The animals don't feel it! As I drove up there was a big paddock full of cows and they were eating grass and it seemed normal. I felt a twinge of sadness then knowing what they were doing there but it wasn't until I got inside and saw it myself. I was given a tour and showed the butcher room where it looked like a normal butcher and that didn't bother me.

Then I was taken around and outside where I walked over and patted one of the cows. I haven't been that close to a cow since my grandparents had their farm. I was shown the packing room and I met other employees and then one of them said to me "Put these on and go and watch how it all happens". I was given boots and a plastic apron and walked around the back and through these huge doors where cows were lined up alive in a line and there was a noise like the "moo" noise they make but different. I truly believe now they were scared. Some of the cows were urinating and they do that out of fear. So through more doors and I was told that I wouldn't like what I saw but it was part of life. Part of agriculture and these cows were bred for this purpose. They had no other purpose. One came through and a gate came down blocking its head. It began to struggle and I did feel bad but I convinced myself it was just part of life. That was its purpose.

Somebody walked over with what looked like a small rod and it was a stun. It instantly knocked the cow to the ground and I expected it was dead. Just like that. But it wasn't. It was shaking and they told me it was only its nerves, the cow was brain dead now and wouldn't feel a thing. But after about one minute while they tied its legs up, it tried to stand up. That is NOT nerves! It stumbled and tried again but it was hoisted up by its back legs while the next cow was brought through to the head lock. I asked if it was dead and was told it was. But its eyes were open and for a split moment I made eye contact with it. Then it was moved hanging by its legs to an area of just white tiles, similar to a huge shower with a drain in the floor. And a man said to me "You will never have to do this job just don't throw up in here, okay." He walked over and while the cow was still struggling he cut its neck and it struggled wildly! It screamed. It jerked its head back and forth and blood just sprayed all over the wall and bucketed down from its neck. Its moo got softer and softer and it struggled less until it just hung.

I looked down. I was standing four feet from it and my boots were bright red, just covered in blood. I've never seen that much blood and I didn't know blood smelt. It does smell! It smells metallic and like death and this cow was winched across the room still bleeding while the next one came in exactly the same. Struggling. Eyes open and mooing fiercely and they said its just nerves. The cow is brain dead because of the bolt! I don't believe that. I stood there and watched seven cows get killed and I couldn't cope. After the fourth I had to go outside and throw up. I was told to put a cloth with Vicks over my nose and I would get over it. To rid the smell, but I couldn't. I thought of my kids and having a job and so I went back inside and three more cows.

Then I went back outside to where they were alive and took off my boots and apron and walked back to the butcher room where other employees did try to comfort me and suggest it was too soon for me to see the slaughter room they said. So I stayed in the butcher room and meat has never bothered me before. I once dated a butcher. But seeing that meat just made me see those cows and that blood and smell, that metallic smell of death. My boyfriend said to me tonight that blood has no smell, you imagined it. And I said to him, have you ever been right next to a literal flood of blood? Possibly litres and litres coming out and landing at your feet? No, it does smell! I told them on the way out that I wouldn't be back and they understood and gave me $75 for the day even though I just stood there.

I have never felt so much pain for another living being as I did those cows. It has had a dramatic effect on me and one I will never forget. I'm still crying tonight while I'm typing this and in a way perhaps it is good I had this experience. I have since spoken to my three vegan friends. I've apologised for criticising them and their decision when they chose vegan. Me, being a pushy opinionated meat eater, called them hippy wanna bees and that they were jumping on a new band wagon. I am so sorry to them and grateful they accepted that and are willing to help me to make this transition myself. One thing I know for sure is I will never ever eat meat again. Dairy may be a struggle but I will do my 100% best to eliminate animal products completely.

And most of all I will never ever forget Friday. Every detail, every sound, every smell, will forever stay etched in my mind as the moment that changed me. I am sickened at how I was lied to and convinced it was humane and the stun kills them. I've since discovered it in fact doesn't. Which I saw myself on Friday. There are two types one is a bolt and ones a stun. The stun shocks them but they wake back up. I am sure that's what they used here. I still feel sick and it will take a few days but I am so determined to even make the smallest change. Animals do not deserve this. I just wish I'd seen it sooner. And thank you for accepting my message and your kind reply. My past attitude towards vegans, I'm so ashamed of it now. Now I have seen what I've seen I fully support this and will be making anybody else I can aware of the cruelty of our "humane" slaughterhouses.

How would you react at seeing the horrors of a slaughterhouse? If you are not vegan, you are paying people to do the job Faith was asked to watch. Live vegan! For all animals.

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Showing 26 reactions

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  • Dawn Steen
    commented 2017-10-24 03:31:02 +1100
  • Daniel Carl
    commented 2017-08-25 19:46:12 +1000
    I would like to share this story but I’m slightly concerned that the author has neither included her full name or her profile photo. Does anyone on here actually know who she is?

    Reply from Vegan Australia: Thanks for the question Daniel. Faith contacted us in the days after the incident describing her experiences. We asked her if we could publish her story and she agreed, but requested that she remain anonymous. However, we have no doubt her story is true.
  • Shelly Hibberd
    commented 2016-09-06 02:43:31 +1000
    Faith-thank you for sharing your awful trauma. It is so important people know what REALLY happens-not what they want to think what happens or what they are told. I am vegan and I was crying reading this. I am under no illusion as to what happens as my grandparents had a farm & I have watched the videos too. it does take a period of adjustment transitioning to veganism but you will feel great when you have done it. You will find some peace and strength from not contributing to suffering and there are tons of resources out there as well as forums, places and people out there to support you. My heart goes out to you having had to witness this first hand but wishing you positive health and strength to acting on your obvious compassion.
  • Susie Snowflake
    commented 2016-08-11 09:28:24 +1000
    It’s shameful that society does have a ‘menu’ of these comments before they place their order. Slaughterhouses-glass walls-see difference.
  • Angela Dillon
    commented 2016-08-08 07:55:35 +1000
    Thanks for sharing I wish others will change from reading your article and not have to experience the horrors of murdering animals. Dairy won’t be such a struggle when you realise how terrible that industry really is. I wish you all the best.
  • David Piccoli
    commented 2016-06-14 14:50:38 +1000
    wow thats great i love you dearly,,, watch the chicken, egg, and dairy videos please
  • Wendy Brown
    commented 2016-06-06 07:47:20 +1000
    I don’t believe there is any way to raise and produce animals for food that is humane. Andrea’s comment that the packaging on meat should give details of where the meat has come from and how it was transported and killed, might actually be a good thing. Perhaps it would work like warnings on cigarette packets – after all it would be more difficult for consumers to disconnect themselves from the process; perhaps it would create more vegans.
  • Bonnie Mutchler
    commented 2016-06-05 12:12:00 +1000
    I had already become a vegetarian for several years, but like Faith I was out of work and desperate, so I thought I could handle just being a building maintenance person. I lasted a few days with screaming nightmares every night. Orangey steams from the boiling vats that took off the hair, the kill floor with pigs being led up a ramp with sides, screaming, bucking, their eyes rolling, to be “stunned”, hung on hooks on a carousel and have their throats cut. I thought so many times of the Holocaust. These too were living, thinking, feeling beings. What right or need does anyone have to eat the flesh of another creature?
  • Ele End
    commented 2016-06-05 06:49:34 +1000
    Faith, thank you for this post. If i walked into a killing house, i know i would be on my knees straight away, sobbing. You explained the situation so vividly that i feel i was there too. Lord, i have cried my self silly, and mushed up my brain with animal abuse. Nothing could be more evil and cruel than that , in my eyes at least. Bless you sweetheart for now being able to spread the word along with the rest of us xx your children will be very well educated and civilized too. Eating rotting flesh, what on earth is wrong with them that do, it has to be the brainwashing that has kept them in such cruel chains.
    Send with love x
  • Sally n'Em
    commented 2016-06-05 00:55:46 +1000
    Dana Hutton…you obviously havent bothered to read my 2 posts properly either . If you had it would have answered your questions about whether I eat meat or am indeed vegan ….If someone is considering giving up meat , or dairy or eggs , then they need encouragement , not a bollocking . At the end if the day it is her choice …same way is your “choice” to have kids , buy a new car , have that latest tech ….I could go on , but I think will fall on deaf ears .
  • Michele Hayter
    commented 2016-06-04 20:20:53 +1000
    I’m vegetarian, but already going off eggs and milk as I understand the animals have to be in a constant state of pregnancy to produce these. Is this correct?
    So glad this has reached me in the UK as we have had halal forced on us, they don’t even stun the animal – it’s horrific!
    I’m hoping my friends & family will read this and understand why animal cruelty upsets me so much.
    Well done Faith & thank you.
  • Veronique Perrot
    commented 2016-06-04 18:31:44 +1000
    So happy you finally understands where vegans come from and you decided to join us in the Vegan revolution. Welcome home.
  • Catherine Ferguson
    commented 2016-06-03 23:31:33 +1000
    I totaly feel for you faith and im so happy you quit such a horrid cruel job,i wish you the best of luck becoming a vegan ,its the only way to go godbless goodluck
  • Richard Stafursky
    commented 2016-06-03 22:07:02 +1000
    Be careful. Unless a person is a spontaneous ethical vegan they often backslide. It’s sort of like like late in life atheists going back to religion when they have families. Shock and awe is no guarantee.
  • Dana Hutton
    commented 2016-06-03 11:05:54 +1000
    Sally n’Em are you saying that I wasn’t polite or that I should respect Andrea Edmundson views?

    At the end of your comment you say that it is her choice what she does, Are you a meat eater Sally because I don’t think it shouldn’t be a choice. I think the choice should be removed because killing and suffering is wrong the same as child abuse is wrong.

    I didn’t want to read Andreas post because I already knew what she was going to say. All meat eaters say the same thing. It wasn’t to do with a lack of respect because I have none in the first place for people who justify killing. I started to read her comment and couldn’t tolerate her beyond that point.

    So you see it wasn’t a lack of respect it was no tolerance and more importantly MY CHOICE! So please respect my views. Oh and that was sarcasm.
  • Susan Trout
    commented 2016-06-03 11:04:30 +1000
    It takes a tremendous amount of courage to do what you did. I think of all the brave (literally!) activists who go undercover on factory farms and film things that wouldn’t even make it into a truly gruesome horror film. People in general want to live completely unfettered lives. Deep down thy don’t give a shit abut starving children, brutally treated women and big business that exploits,plunders and destroys our planet; all for the almighty dollar. All they care about is themselves.
  • Dana Hutton
    commented 2016-06-03 10:49:23 +1000
    Andrea Edmundson I cant understand your msg to me. I didn’t want to read anymore of what you wrote and that has nothing to do with respect. At least I got your name right.
  • Sally n'Em
    commented 2016-06-03 10:29:59 +1000
    Slaughterhouses should all have glass walls . All of them . Put them in the high street on show for everyone . Meat in nicely presented supermarket packaging that targets the population into believing its “good” is purely to increase sales . It does little to help people make the connection.
  • Sally n'Em
    commented 2016-06-03 10:08:55 +1000
    Andrea Edmundson… I have read all the OP and all of your comment , I respect your views . and will be polite . Farmers only look after livestock because of ££££’s . High welfare , free range , organic etc. have empty meanings ..I should know ,as i fell for it hook line and sinker for years . No slaughter is humane . Take RSPCA "freedom food " accredited meat . Might look nice on the packet for you , and make you feel its good , when the sad reality its the same as any other meat . RSPCA have been caught out on that one far too many times . Now onto Halal, why mention Halal ? , is it because there is no stun gun ? Does it make a difference in real terms , sadly no .Stun guns dont always work ..a 12 bore saw off shotgun to the head would work better . I have lived in rural France , they keep their own animals . you could say the animals have a nice life , then, when ready , they slit their throats . There is no stun or transportation involved . Please dont try to justify eating high welfare meat , it doesnt exist , but At the end of the day , its your choice what you decide .
  • Andrea Edmundson
    commented 2016-06-03 08:03:36 +1000
    Donna Hutton perhaps you should have read it all then I shown the same respect that I have
  • Dana Hutton
    commented 2016-06-03 05:08:21 +1000
    Blood does smell metallic. It’s the iron you could smell. When I was a kid I could smell it in the gravy that my parents poured over my roast dinner.

    Just want to say to Andrea Edmundson who posted a comment on here I only read a few lines of your comment because it annoys me that you think animals can be killed in a nice way or a humane way. It is not okay to kill and it is not nice to be killed.

    Thank you Faith for sharing this with us. I have to say though this is exactly how I would have expected it to be in a slaughter house. Maybe everyone who eats meat should spend a day in one. Also Faith please do give up dairy or maybe now you will watch a documentary on why you should. And please dont give up on being meat free no matter how hard it gets, remember the cows x
  • Andrea Edmundson
    commented 2016-06-02 21:28:15 +1000
    Hi I am a meat eater grew up in a farming family and community is never had a problem with vegan people or vegetarians that I know if always just respected and accepted that’s that’s there choice however if always defended the way livestock is reared here (UK)because I KNOW that it’s not as alot them will say cruel and barbaric there is always bad places of course and they should be weedled out and closed down but I know that good farmers have happy healthy extremely well looked after stock and I couldn’t imagine our country side without them and iv done alot of campaigning to try and make sure stock farming is high welfare across the board and always supported those good ones
    being a vegetarian is something that I have toyed with trying my self I made a decision along time ago to only eat high welfare meat local free range organic ect and was happy with that for a while then I noticed that most of the meat for sale was kosha and halal and I wasn’t happy with that because of the way they are killed which is how you described after reading this I’m not sure if what I believed is right or not and has me questioning myself further was this a halal slaughter house? Or was it a supposedly ‘humane’ one and do you think it would of made a difference to you if they had used a bolt to kill the cows first? I won’t buy halal meat but I wonder if there is really a difference….iv always wanted to see a more translucent explanion to the life and slaughter of the meat I eat I want to know where it’s come from who raised and transported it and the manner in which it was slaughtered and I want it on the packet! so everyone can make an informed choice when they are shopping surely people would want to buy meat that was transported only a few miles in uncramped conditions while it was alive and killed instantly by a bolt then that which had to travel hundreds of miles cramped with no breaks for water then bled alive in front of each other and if always wanted transparency in the slaughter houses like constant live cameras so people can see and creating hopefully an environment where the animals would be treated better in there last minutes……I always thought this would be enough ……thank-you for sharing your story even though this is a subject iv obviously thought long and hard on you are making me question my self further
  • Fiona Moore
    commented 2016-06-02 20:03:41 +1000
    This sounds truly awful :( You witnessed it first hand and said you didn’t want to be part of that. That is something you should be proud of. If only more people did the same the world would be a better place.
  • Janelle Davo
    commented 2016-06-02 19:59:04 +1000
    OMG!! People who say, “Oh, you are the vegan at the barbeque,” need to read this instead of criticising. Becoming a vegan takes a lot of strength and faith in humanity for all breathing beings on this planet. Please remember it is a choice to become a Vegan, it is a life changing journey and is not something done to become cool or join a hippie movement. So happy this young lady has Vegan friends who can overlook what she may have said about their healthy lifestyle choice and can now help her to become Vegan as well. My son became Vegan a while back now and I have never seen him looking healthier: mind, body and spirit. I love it when he makes up his salads and shares them with me. Becoming a Vegan is a selfless choice made for all living beings that share this beautiful planet with us. Because without this our planet is doomed!! Proud of your healthy lifestyle choice Alex. You are and always have been a leader and not a follower.
  • Agg Mii
    commented 2016-06-02 17:48:37 +1000
    I am so sorry that you had to witness this, but now you cannot be lied to anymore. I hope you can heal your trauma and be the best animal protector you can be. Your voice matters so much. It breaks my heart, that people refuse to see the truth, but maybe because of your story, many people will understand.
  • Nancy Poznak
    commented 2016-06-02 05:03:54 +1000
    Thank you for sharing your story. Sorry you had to witness such cruelty but you have done all sentient beings a great service: you have born witness to other’s suffering. This is an enormously powerful form of advocacy. Your sense of compassion and justice has WON!