International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India

author not given

If one reads Tolstoy's description of the slaughter-houses of his day as published in Recollections and Essays (Oxford University Press) and then reads the personal experience of of Mr. Alfred Brisco of Blackwell, Carlisle, in his investigation of the modern slaughter-house of England, as published in The Anmal's Friend, one turns sick with horror at the thought that the years could make no difference, that conscience, doped by the lust of taste, lies in a seemingly death-like stupor.

Tolstoy told of the stench of blood and sight of dead carcasses which greeted the trembling animal that comes driven cruelly to its death. This sight made him a vegetarian.

Mr. Brisco, who is only fighting for slaughter-house reform, and does not state he is a vegetarian, says :


"I have had many bitter experiences of late, in slaughter-houses at home and abroad. Let me deal only with the home shambles at the moment ... We shall have enough to do, for some time, in an attempt to put our own house in order.

"The fact that horses and cattle, according to law, must be killed with the Humane Killer in this country, has been a means of lulling a section of the community in to a false sense of satisfaction. They imagine that all is now well in our slaughter-houses.All is not well.

"Not only are the majority of our private slaughter-houses hot-beds of cruelty but also many of the public abattoirs are a positive hell to the animals driven therein.

"In the majority of cases, the animals are met with a stench of blood and the sight of skins and entrails: as soon as they enter the gates.

"The majority of animals show signs of the terror they feel, at the very offset, They are driven on by heavy blow and often fall on the slippery bloody floor to receive additional blows to add to their terror."

Tolstoy told of a fine young animal dragged forward violently protesting by one butcher while another "seized the tail like an engine driver grasping the handle of a whistle, and twisted it until the bristle crackled."

Mr. Brisco, telling of "terror, excessive tail-twisting, brutal blows." states that in the majority of the slaughter-houses"Animals must be driven across blood-soaked yards in full view of hanging carcasses. One has only to stand watching the approach of those poor creatures ... to see the terror registered in their eyes. When a bullock is needed for slaughter, it is roped and pulled into the slaughter-shed by its neck. I have repeatedly seen a beast have its neck almost drawn by this age-old roping method. It is then the wretched animal receives brutal blows, forcing it to enter the actual place where its life has to be taken. When it is in the position required for shooting, it is humanely killed, forsooth!

"Believe me, the slaughter had started exactly at the moment the wretched creature had passed through the entrance gates!"


As for the "humane" killer, Mr. Brisco from personal experience does not consider that electric anaesthesia justifies the name.

"Electric stunning will take place

  1. if the superintendent is sympathetic.
  2. if he is present when every animal is stunned,
  3. if the current is applied at the requisite times to ensure complete anaesthesia.

Too many ifs! and if everything else is all right, the dread question arises. does the electric anaesthesia produce a state of anaesthesia or only a state like unto curare drugging?"

CONSCIENCE demands with Mr. Brisco that all who have a slaughter-house in their district visit it and and see its condition for themselves. Mr. Brisco says: "I have spent hours in such places. You must not however, go to places well dressed or accompanied by an inspector, for if you do, then all will be quite in order.