In the movie The Matrix, taking the red pill meant you will learn what's really going on in this world. Taking the blue pill meant you go back to your ignorant but happy life. Reading this book is like taking the red pill. You can't unlearn this. The main takeaway points for me are:
1) A shockingly high percentage of cows and pigs are fully conscious as they have their throat slit, skin peeled off their head, legs cut off, tail cut off, scalded, etc. The cows scream, try climbing the wall, flail around, and one employee said he saw cow tears. On page 130 it says 25% - 30% of the cows are butchered alive according to one plant employee. Many employees say that this happens in slaughterhouses across the country. This happens because the bolt guns are not pressurized enough, or the bolt is too small, or the employee misses, or because the line is moving too fast. Some employees said when they get behind they hang live cows on the line without shooting them in the head first. Cows have been seen 7 - 9 minutes down the line still breathing and mooing.
2) When a pig or cow gets caught in a truck, ramp, gate, or wherever, the solution is to just saw the leg off without killing the animal first. Helping the animal humanely takes too much time.
3) When a pig is frozen to the side of a truck but still alive, they just rip the pig off leaving a chunk of skin on the truck. They might even pull a leg out. Breaking bones, stabbing the eyes, electric prodding anuses/mouthes/eyes of animals, beating with metal pipes, leaving sick or disabled animals to starve or freeze to death, etc. is normal everyday practice at all slaughterhouses.
4) Poultry is not covered by the Humane Slaughter Act. They are shocked before having their neck slit, but the voltage is so low they are still awake and feel the cut. Then they are scalded in water alive. Rabbits are also considered poultry and therefore are not covered by the Humane Slaughter Act. In at least one plant rabbits have meat hooks put through their legs alive, then are decapitated with dull knives which often takes 3 - 5 tries. Rabbits scream like infants.
5) The USDA does nothing about animals being slaughtered alive, and are completely toothless. USDA is run by the meat industry and they are pushing for deregulation (fewer or no inspectors, fewer responsibilities and powers, etc.) Anyone who tries to help the animals is fired.
I could go on and on... I haven't even touched on the disgusting things that happen to the meat or the working conditions for employees.
Yes this book was written by an animal rights activist. I know meat eaters who roll their eyes when they hear "animal rights". That tells me they condone what goes on in factory farms, transport, and slaughterhouses. They don't realize that humans are animals too and that there is absolutely no difference torturing an animal or a human. All animals (including humans) feel depression, despair, terror, pain, and suffering. Just because humans are more intelligent than other animals doesn't give us the right to do what we do to them. Human babies are probably about as smart as a pig. Is the factory farming and slaughter of human babies any different? For me the answer is absolutely NO. I know that rhetorical question will offend some people, but keep in mind that I am *deeply* offended by the very real inhumane living conditions, transport and slaughter of animals just to satisfy human taste preferences. Just because we can eat meat doesn't mean we have to eat meat. Our human intelligence gives us the power of empathy and compassion. We can choose to not eat meat or animal products.
I don't believe for one second that the majority of the meat industry isn't as described in this book. The slaughterhouses investigated in this book are just the tip of the iceberg.
This book has pushed me from casual vegetarian (eat meat sometimes) to full vegan. Thank you!