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Fowl not fair in your festive meal

Sir -- The annual seasonal slaughter of turkeys and pigs is coming to an end as I write. This period of intense killing would be bad enough had the animals been afforded a decent life, but most have lived awful lives, in windowless sheds, processed like factory units (which they are), and had their lives brutally taken from them when they were still mere babes.

The tragedy is not in how we kill them; it is that we deem it acceptable and necessary to kill them at all. It is a shocking act, an act that most of us cannot even contemplate committing, yet we are more than happy to eat the end product.

Few people would be capable of spending a day in a slaughterhouse, at the coalface so to speak, killing one animal after another, an entire day spent killing the innocent. The unpleasant tasks we cannot bring ourselves to carry out, we allow others to do for us. No one really thinks about the slaughterhouse, the absolute terror of the animal, the ugly act of killing, the butchery that follows. It is all out of sight. We do not know; we do not want to know.

Was not the message and example of Christ a compassionate one? How many nuns, priests, bishops and deans will sit down to a meal this Christmas that doesn't have as its centrepiece a dead animal, raised and slaughtered in such a manner as to compromise their lifelong dedication to compassion? Not many.

The hypocrisy surrounding our relationship with animals is deeply embedded. We are capable of becoming emotionally involved with our pet dog while at the same time we tacitly support the inhumane treatment of farm animals in a daily act of condonement: eating them. Yet, our pet dog is capable of suffering in the same manner as that of a pig, chicken or turkey were it to be subjected to a life comparable to that of an intensively-farmed animal.

Gerry Boland,

Animals in Crisis

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