The meat industry's propaganda does not show all the phases of production.

Advertisements include bucolic farms, animals grazing in the sun, fresh water, clean food... Suddenly,they cut to a scene showing the final product. Sometimes we can see parts of animals already processed in a neat space, but not much more than that. They do not show the animals' attempts to escape, their screams, their looks or their spasms when they are electrocuted. They do not show the part where they are stabbed in the throat, many of them while they are still conscious, until they bleed to death. They don't show blood or pain. Advertisements do not show what happens in slaughterhouses.

The meat industry (but also the dairy industry, the egg industry, and any other industry that benefits from sending animals to the slaughterhouse for human consumption) carries out an intentional lapse in this industrial process, which is a fundamental part of its business. The deliberate omission of slaughter images responds to a clearly propagandistic interest in convincing society that their products do not cause any harm to animals. They do not want to show this part because they are aware that it is unpleasant, violent and because, after all, it shows that without death there is no meat. 


In recent years, however, animal rights activists have managed to access slaughterhouses and publish what happens in these places, often making the obtained footage go viral.

Between 2016 and 2018, I participated in an investigation with Aitor Garmendia in fourteen spanish slaughterhouses from which an extensive report, consisting of reportage and photography, was released and had a wide media impact. 

It was in one of these slaughterhouses where I filmed the video that accompanies this article.

The footage obtained through this and other investigations -which proves that treatment in slaughterhouses, in addition to being intrinsically unfair, leads to sadism, humiliation and extreme violence - have generated a social change to which animal exploitation companies have had to adapt. In recent years, large corporations such as Campofrío, Pascual, Lidl and Eroski have implemented animal welfare seals in their products and have launched marketing campaigns to make consumers believe that what is done to animals is acceptable. The slaughterhouses, of course, have also been a subject of this image washing.

Due to the difficulty of filming inside slaughterhouses, French, Spanish and German activists, amongst others, have had to use hidden cameras to reveal the reality of the slaughterhouses. In the images obtained, it can be seen that, often pressured by the frenetic pace at which they must carry out their tasks, that the slaughterers ignore the regulations, they do not stun the animals before stabbing and bleeding them, and that they push, hit, throw and beat or even jump over the animals to force them to move. 

The publication of the images of slaughterhouses filmed in this way in the Spanish State initially caused a stir and indignation, but after a while there have only been minor legislative changes. A Royal Decree approved in 2022 will require cameras to be installed in all slaughterhouses, but only government inspection services will be able to view the images and these will only be kept for thirty days. According to a statement made by the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, this is “a seal of quality” and the Business Federation of Meat and Meat Industries and the Interprofessional Association of Poultry Meat have applauded it. Meanwhile, animal rights activists consider it insufficient and useless.

In addition to the application of different changes required by law (most of them by agreements coming from the European Union), “improvements” have also been implemented in the slaughterhouse machinery. These measures are advertised as beneficial for the animals, but the reality is that if they did not increase economic results and productive efficiency, it is very unlikely that the industry would have made these investments.  In the 2009 European regulation they explain it like this: “Improving the protection of animals at the time of slaughter contributes to improving quality of meat and has an indirect positive effect on occupational safety in slaughterhouses.” It is really hard to believe as, for example, in the case of the restrainer it is the safety qualities that are highlighted when promoting it.

The restrainer is a machine that laterally immobilizes pigs, lifts them into the air and transports them to the point where they are electrically stunned. Although the distributors of this tool affirm that "it is essential to guarantee animal welfare", the main attributes of the machine are those that affect the capacity of slaughter, production, cleaning or comfort of the workers. The machine simplifies the task of electrocution, since the pigs resist, squeal or move less when they are immobilized in the restrainer than they do in a cubicle close to the ground, as is typical practice without access to this tool.


It is highly doubtful that the restrainer, a machine that enables a slaughterhouse to execute up to four hundred individuals per hour, can "guarantee the well-being" of these animals trapped between two PVC and aluminum walls, surrounded by noise, steam, a hostile environment, and seeing how a few meters away other pigs are stabbed, especially if we analyze the term “well-being”. The Spanish language dictionary defines the term as “a comfortable life or life supplied with everything that leads to having a good time and with peace of mind.” Obviously this is totally different from the life of, for example, a pig in the meat industry. It starts being born among excrement, then separated from their mother and after that living in overcrowded conditions, where disease, lack of care and deprivation from sunlight or open spaces are typical. Finally, dying at six months when being able to live up to fifteen years is the norm for pigs and sows who are " property” of the food industry. 


The previously mentioned “EU legislation on the killing of animals” states that “slaughter can cause pain, anguish, fear or other forms of suffering to animals, even under the best available technical conditions. Some procedures related to slaughter can be stressful and stunning techniques have some disadvantages. Business operators or any person involved in the slaughter of animals must take the necessary measures to avoid pain and minimize the anguish and suffering of animals during the slaughter or slaughter processes.” 


The only way to minimize the anguish and suffering of animals during slaughter processes is not to slaughter animals.

Work by Linas Korta.

Published in September 2023.