Whether it's a peek inside a humane slaughterhouse or witnessing a turkey being killed on the farm, whenever we show the process of animal slaughter—even at the hands of folks practicing more humane methods—reader responses are decidedly varied.
Some are grateful for an insight into a process we rarely see, and impressed by the professionals who are trying to inject some compassion into an inherently violent act. Others are less forgiving—and that's understandable—after all, for many people meat is quite simply murder.
It's a debate that is likely to continue, and I am under no pretenses that there are easy answers. But one thing is certain in my mind—we must stop closing our eyes to how our food is raised and where it comes from.
Take this video for example (again, from The Perennial Plate) of the Madani Halal slaughterhouse in the backstreets of Queens. It doesn't hide the brutal, graphic aspects of the slaughter process. It shows us the stark crates stacked high with birds destined for death. And it doesn't pretend that these birds were raised in ideal conditions (they are, as the owner himself admits, conventionally-raised chickens). But what it does do is explore the question of ethics and humane treatment in a business serving a different clientele to Whole Foods or your average farmers market.
Whatever you make of the end result, it is I think proof that there is a desire to do better. And as such, it is a video worth watching for vegans and meat eaters alike. Would-be ethical eaters must make their choices based on what they believe is right. But the only way to do that is to know how your food gets to the table. So let's never look away.