I first learned of the connection between abusing animals and abusing people, when I worked for a cat rescue organization. I read many studies about this link in behavior and how children who expressed violence toward family pets and other animals, later translated into violent crimes in their adult lives. In my current position, I read studies that reveal adults who work in violent jobs, such as slaughterhouses, tend to take those attitudes home with them and commit domestic violence against their loved ones. Some individuals are perhaps predisposed to having violent tendencies (those who suffer from certain mental illnesses), but others, I believe and studies are proving more and more, are created. And one of the largest creators perpetuators of violence is animal agribusiness.
Everyday the meat, dairy, and egg industries perpetuate violence. Raising animals at the current rate of around 10 billion land animals every year, requires employees to ignore that the animals they are handling are living, breathing individuals; instead they are forced to desensitize themselves to their suffering and to see each individual as a product. The golden rule in meatpacking plants is “The Chain Will Not Stop.” Time is money and in animal agribusiness, the more animals who are killed equals the larger the payouts.
Slaughtering animals is not only a bloody and violent industry, it is also exploitative, hazardous and unsanitary. Employees receive little to no training, in high-speed, high-stress environments. The meatpacking industry holds the highest rate for nonfatal on-the-job injuries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agriculture industry saw an increase in injuries from 2010 to 2011, driven by an increase in cases in both the crop production and animal production (primarily dairy cattle and milk production) industries. In 2005, the Human Rights Watch released a report citing the deplorable conditions of the meat industry, saying workers “…contend with conditions, vulnerabilities, and abuses which violate human rights.” The report also said employees “suffer severe, life-threatening and sometimes life-ending injuries that are predictable and preventable.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the directive of the U.S. Department of Labor confirms that the meatpacking industry is the most dangerous industry in the country. Their Safety and Health Guide for the Meatpacking Industry, (which appears not to have been updated/revised since 1988), lists potential job hazards as: knife cuts (examples include blindness and disfigurement), falls (from wet/slippery surfaces due to animal fat, blood, leaking pipes and poor drainage), back injuries (from carrying carcasses up to 300 pounds), cumulative trauma disorders or repetitive motion injuries (i.e. tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome), toxic substances (exposed to ammonia, carbon dioxide and monoxide and the thermal degradation products of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) food-wrap film), and infectious diseases (brucellosis, erysipeloid, leptospirosis, dermatophytoses and warts).
As Chris Grezo illustrates in his latest blog post entitled, “Animal Abuse Leads to Human Abuse,” “What the industry has become is a sector where the employers abuse their workers, and the workers themselves are more likely to abuse their families.” The psychological and physical toll on workers in animal agribusiness can be devastating. The meat, dairy, and egg industries are a breeding ground for suffering and violence – not only for the animals enslaved there, but also for the employees and their families who are a part of this cruel system. Therefore, adopting a plant-based diet not only saves the lives of animals but also human lives. For more information on the human aspects of animal agriculture and how adopting a vegan lifestyle can alleviate human atrocities, please LiveVegan.org.