Collaboration : Ms. Rocio Elizabeth Guerra
Text read in front of the of the former Vaugirard slaughterhouses
"Animals run no risk of going to hell, they are there already”, wrote Victor Hugo.
We are gathered here today to demand their release from this hell, at least with regard to that which we humans are responsible.
Together, let us begin a new era of animal rights and be done with the hell we have made of their lives.
We are gathered here at the symbolic site of the former Vaugirard slaughterhouses to cry out against the inequity and cruelty of our animal-centric eating habits.
On this very spot, in 1949, filmmaker Georges Franju filmed the sad reality of their slaughter in a documentary entitled “Le Sang des Bêtes” (Blood of the Beasts). Following his first visit, he would later say:
“The first time I went there, I returned home, I cried for two days, I hid all the knives, I just wanted to die.”
The consumers of meat, milk and eggs that we are, or have been, do not like to think of what has occurred before these products arrive on our plates. On this topic, winner of the Nobel Prize Literature Award , J.M. Coetzee stated the following in a 2007 interview:
"The vast majority of the public [...] are nevertheless a little sickened, a little queasy, when they think of what happens on factory farms and abattoirs. Thus they arrange their lives in such a way that they need be reminded of farms and abattoirs as little as possible, and they do their best to ensure their children are kept in the dark too, because children have tender hearts and are easily moved."
While we avert our gaze, animals continue to go through hell, because of us.
While we hide behind quibbling technicalities aimed at convincing us that ingesting the body of another is legitimate, normal, natural, necessary… animals continue to go through hell, because of us.
It is time to deconstruct the meat centric ideology that has secreted these criminal technicalities over centuries, technicalities so cleverly supported to this day and age by industries that exploit animals.
It is time to challenge the primal nature of every little human desire, of every acquired bad habit over the interest of allowing animals to enjoy the only thing that is truly their own: Life itself, ...Their Life.
No human practice causes more suffering and more deaths than farming and fishing.
Each year, throughout the world, over 60 billion land animals are slaughtered for their flesh, this, in addition to the hundreds of billions of animals raised in aquaculture farms, and the hundreds of billions of fish pulled from our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Let us think about Paul Watson who after all he did to defend so many creatures of the ocean, he was then imprisoned, and now is threatened with extradition to Costa Rica.
What ethical justification could we possibly give to all this murder for consumption? For all the slit throats and the asphyxiated fish? None, except for the selfish pleasure of satisfying our taste buds without taking into account the life of the animals, or the environmental cost that such consumption represents. An environmental cost for us, but also for them. This, because the Earth is our common home.
Just as the world is not a commodity, the animals are not products destined for our use or for our disposal. They are sentient beings, capable of emotion, of feeling, of awareness, of thinking, and through them we have other worlds to discover and explore.
It is time to begin a revolution of ethics to permanently include the animals into our sphere of moral consideration.
The critical thinking on the implications of using animals for food has existed since antiquity. Today, with the industrialisation of farming and fishing, the topic is now more relevant than ever.
Let us ensure that critical thinking on the subject expands throughout earth and becomes a reality.
The stele we are about to unveil is an act of remembrance, but mainly it is a commitment to the future. It is the symbol of our willingness to fuel a public and civic debate on all that the animals are entitled to... until their blood stops flowing.
Today, by erecting this stele, we pay homage to the thousands of horses, cows, and sheep that were slaughtered here at Vaugirard, between 1898 and 1976.
In fear and in horror, how many, sensing their fatal destiny, how many of them tried to escape?
Yet nothing would stop their executioners, not their frightened cries, nor their desperate eyes, nor the sight of their spilled blood.
Nothing moved those who later butchered and devoured them, digested their agony, and turned their human stomachs into animal graveyards.
In erecting this stele, we are also remembering the billions of animals slaughtered everywhere and beyond, past and future, on land and sea.
We remember the myriad of fish who do not cry out, but who caught in nets struggle for hours and days on end before suffocating on the decks of fishing boats.
And so, like Martin Luther King, we also have a dream: The dream to one day see an end to this carnivorous nightmare.
We have a dream to see the topic of the animal become a central and key societal and political issue.
We dream of a world where grants are no longer awarded to farming and fishing industries of death, but are instead dedicated to the retraining of workers employed in these industries so that they too may escape this nightmare.
We dream of a world where humans and non-humans cohabitate peacefully as part of a new brotherhood.
A world where animals are not considered merchandise or meat on limbs. A world where the exploitation and slaughter of animals will have finally become illegal as imagined by Voltaire in La princesse de Babylone, by Tolstoy, by Louise Michel, and by Leonardo da Vinci, to name but a few.
Finally, a world where animals are treated with respect and viewed as the wonders that they are, and have always been.
Today, we are marching toward this new world.
It is high time we abolish our human privileges and accord the animals the just treatment they deserve and are so long overdue.
Let us turn our dreams into reality.
Let us stop farming and fishing.
Let us close all the slaughterhouses.
Text read at place St Michel
Each year, hundreds of billions of land-based and aquatic animals suffer and die needlessly, unnecessarily, to feed humans. Why unnecessarily?
Because it is not necessary to eat animals to live and to be healthy.
The evolution of our eating habits is unavoidable and inevitable…
Because we cannot continue on this course.
The hunting, the fishing, the raising, and the slaughtering of animals is not ethically justifiable.
The eating of a being made of flesh is not a trite or a trivial act of feeding oneself.
It is the taking possession of another being’s life, and annihilating it.
Man cannot continue to kill. He must stop the bloodshed.
It is time to lead our country away from its gastronomy of blood, it is time to propose a menu of bright greens and well being.
It is time to lead the world out of the flood of needless spilled blood.
When will the appetite and the hunger for meat end?
Today, animals are exiled on their own land and we force them to live under horrendous conditions.
Let us close the slaughterhouses.
We cry out, we demand, we clamour for the rights of the forgotten, for the rights of the abused.
We cry out, we demand, we clamour for the rights of the voiceless, for the rights of the innocent.
How could we not notice that their destiny is linked to ours?
We are herein launching the call for June 2nd...
A call for an end to injustice, for an end to barbarism, for an end to needless and unnecessary death;
A call for an end to slaughterhouses, both on land and in waters.
To our brother and sister animals, to our co-tenants of the sky, land, and sea.
When will the freedom to exist be yours? When will you be free to live your life? When will your territory be respected? When will we respect the life of one another?
We have a dream…
A dream that one day, no living being shall fear dying under our knife.
A dream that one day, no human will exercise dominance over another species.
A dream that one day, non-violence will finally reign on this earth.
We nourish the hope that one day, on no continent, in no country, in no city, in no home, that no human should shed the blood of a being made of flesh.
Change is possible if we harness it together.
We are appealing to each and everyone of you.
We call upon your sensitivity, your kindness, your compassion and your reason.
We are talking about ourselves and our rightful place on this earth.
We are talking about ourselves and our unfair and cruel dominance over other species.
We are talking about our future and our vision for a different world.
We are calling upon your sense of humility… your empathy.
Join us and let us work together to end this bloody injustice.
Join us and let us work together so we may one happy day put an end to captivity and slaughterhouses.
Gandhi, - a vegetarian, a philosopher, an Indian lawyer, a politician, and a father of Indian independence born into a vegetarian family of Hindu tradition - came to defend vegetarianism for moral reasons. As part of his belief he integrated the moral status of animals into his philosophy of active non violence and compassion. He accorded to all animals alike the same obligation, and duty of protection as that given to the cow.
“Cow-slaughter and man-slaughter are in my opinion the two sides of the same coin. The cow is a poem of pity. When I see a cow I do not see an animal to eat. […] I believe in the protection of the cow in a much higher sense than the popular. The protection of the cow is not merely the protection of a cow. It is the protection of all lives, the protection of the weak, and the helpless.”
Let us take our inspiration from this example of active non-violence and compassion extended to all sentient beings.
We cannot remain silent before the cries of anguish. We cannot remain insensitive before such suffering. We cannot remain inactive before such slaughter. For all of these reasons we cry out, we demand, and we clamour for the closing of all the slaughterhouses. These sites of anguish, suffering, and death.
Margaret Mead, American Philosopher and Anthropologist said:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”
Come, join us. Together we will change the world.
Slaughterhouses will be no more.