This Vegan Works Next to a Butcher Shop. What He Sees Every Week Will Leave You Shook.

It’s an understatement to say that social media is a powerful tool to raise awareness and build community. As an animal rights activist, one of the best ways I’ve been able to keep in touch with fellow vegans has been through Facebook. It’s also been invaluable in helping me share petitions and getting documentary videos to go viral.

At work recently I heard my boss, Ari, exclaim, “Oh, my God! He turned to me in shock. His friend R.J. had just shared on Facebook horrifying images of slaughtered pigs being unloaded from trucks and into a butcher shop. Mercy For Animals has conducted more than 60 undercover investigations, so we’ve seen our share of sickening animal abuse footage, but there was something about the mundane, business-as-usual aspect of R.J.’s photos that left us shaken.

An amazing animal activist based in Canada, R.J. works next to this butcher shop and sees their deliveries every week. We reached out to ask him a couple of questions.

1. The photos you shared are graphic. As an activist, how do you cope with seeing this every week?

It’s traumatizing. It makes me think of all the animals I’ve gotten to know through various sanctuaries and how so few animals get the opportunity to live out their natural lives. It makes me appreciate so much the advocacy groups and farmed animal sanctuaries that are making people aware of the horrific cruelties animals face. It also saddens me to know this is happening and that people can walk by without blinking an eye. If it were dogs in these vehicles, people would be irate; but because these pigs have been labeled food animals, their lives aren’t given the same value.

2. Does this motivate you to continue speaking up for animals or does it discourage you?

At times I feel emotionally exhausted, but I don’t allow it to keep me quiet. Seeing these beautiful animals manhandled like sacks of potatoes without a doubt forces me to speak up and challenge people to rethink their daily habits. We have to.

3. What are some of the comments you hear when they unload the pigs from the truck?

Most people just walk by as if seeing a truckload of dead pigs is a normal scene. Recently someone rode by on his bike and said to the guys unloading the bodies, “I wish I had your job, I love handling dead animals.” This to me is horrifying.

4. Why did you go vegan?

About 15 years ago I was watching a news story on the treatment of chickens in commercial farms. I was sick to my stomach. How could you not be? I felt like such a hypocrite. My companion animals were my life—my dogs, my cats, my rabbits—they meant everything to me. How could I continue to support something that directly inflicted fear, stress, and pain on animals when I wouldn’t do it to any of my own? The more I forced myself outside of my comfort zone, the more I became aware of all the forms of abuse our animal friends are subjected to, and going vegan just made sense.

5. If you weren’t vegan before seeing these slaughtered pigs, do you think you’d be vegan after?

I don’t understand how a person can continue to eat animals after seeing images like this. I think if I were not vegan before seeing this, I would hope at least that I would have taken time to really think about where my food was coming from and to make the connection.

6. What’s one thing you hope readers take away from this?

I hope that readers take a moment to think about these animals and what their stories may have been leading up to these photos. We should constantly question things and force ourselves to rethink our “normal” by adopting a more compassionate lifestyle.

We all have the power to help stop the abuse these gruesome images depict. By choosing to leave meat, dairy, and eggs off our plates in favor of delicious vegan dishes, we can help create a more compassionate world where animals are no longer ruthlessly butchered. Click here to learn more about transitioning to a healthy and humane plant-based diet.