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You have just dined, and, however scrupulously the slaughter-house is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A slaughterhouse, also called abattoir, is a facility where animals are slaughtered, most often (though not always) to provide food for humans. Slaughterhouses supply meat, which then becomes the responsibility of a packaging facility.

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  • No child, I think, can walk through a common market or slaughter-house without receiving moral injury; nor am I quite sure that any virtuous adult can.
    • William Alcott, Vegetable Diet: As Sanctioned by Medical Men, and by Experience in All Ages, Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1838, pp. 270–271.


  • All these animals are put in cages, never see the sun or grass, and they leave this hell only to go to the slaughter-house. For me intensive breeding is a sign of human degeneration. If one can find that acceptable, then we humans have lost all moral value. … [How long have you been a vegetarian?] Since 1962, when I went on French television to denounce conditions of animal slaughter. That is when I became aware of the horror of factory farming, live transports and the killings of farm animals. I have always been sensitive to animal distress but from then on I refused to be involved in such inhuman industrial deaths.
  • I presume that very few men and very few women would be willing to go and catch hold either sheep or of oxen and themselves slaughter the creatures in order that they may eat. […] Now, I venture to submit that if people want to eat meat, they should kill the animals for themselves, that they have no right to degrade other people by work of that sort. Nor should they say that if they did not do it the slaughter would still go on. […] Every person who eats meat takes a share in that degradation of his fellow-men; on him and on her personally lies the share, and personally lies the responsibility.
    • Annie Besant, Vegetarianism in the Light of Theosophy, 1913, pp. 18–20.
  • Now, I'm no shrinking violet. I played hockey until half of my teeth were knocked down my throat. And I'm extremely competitive on a tennis court—I'll dive for any ball on any surface. But that experience at the slaughterhouse overwhelmed me. When I walked out of there, I knew I would never again harm an animal! I knew all the physiological, economic, and ecological arguments supporting vegetarianism, but it was that firsthand experience of man's cruelty to animals that laid the real groundwork for my commitment to vegetarianism.
    • Peter Burwash, Vegetarian Primer (New York: Atheneum, 1983), p. 75.


  • Has anyone ever known a school to organize a field trip to a slaughterhouse? Never. Why? Where does this sense of shame come from that obliges us to keep silent in front of our children about the fate that we impose on animals? Throat-cutting, electrocution, and evisceration—are these scenes that would be obscene in the eyes of innocents? The answer is yes.
  • I am amazed when I see young people eating meat. It seems to me so much thing from other times! The carnivore youth is not with the times, it has a stomach of the nineteenth century, who carnivorized Europe... Eating pieces of slaughtered animals is an anomaly, out of a vegetarian diet there is no real youth. Meat is mostly an anguished habit of old people. Requiring meat dishes, talking about it, remembering it, it's a thing of old people, old and unable to rejuvenate with a decidedly alternative diet.
    • Guido Ceronetti, Insetti senza frontiere: pensieri del filosofo ignoto (Milan: Adelphi, 2009), § 34.


  • Still is the ‘civilised’ world stained and defiled by the remains of a horrible barbarity; while the old-world revolting practice of slaughter of animals and feeding on their corpses still is in so universal vogue, that men have not the faculty even of recognising it as such, as otherwise they would recognise it; and aversion from this horror provokes censure of such eccentricity, and amazement at any manifestation of tendency to reform, as at something absurd and ridiculous—nay, arouses even bitterness and hate. To extirpate this barbarism is a task, the accomplishment of which lies in the closest relationship with the most important principles of humaneness, morality, æsthetics, and physiology. A foundation for real culture—a thorough civilising and refining of humanity—is clearly impossible so long as an organised system of murder and of corpse-eating (organiserten Mord-und-Leichenfratz System) prevails by recognised custom.
  • Bernard Shaw says that as long as men torture and slay animals and eat their flesh we shall have war. I think all sane, thinking people must be of his opinion. The children of my school were all vegetarians, and grew strong and beautiful on a vegetable and fruit diet. Sometimes during the war when I heard the cries of the wounded I thought of the cries of the animals in the slaughterhouse, and I felt that, as we torture these poor defenceless creatures, so the gods torture us. Who loves this horrible thing called war? Probably the meat-eaters, having killed, feel the need to kill—kill birds, animals—the tender stricken deer—hunt foxes. The butcher with his bloody apron incites bloodshed, murder. Why not? From cutting the throat of a young calf to cutting the throat of our brothers and sisters is but a step. While we are ourselves the living graves of murdered animals, how can we expect any ideal conditions on the earth?


  • One time I took my knife and sliced off the end of a hog's nose, just like a piece of salami. The hog went crazy for a few seconds. Then it sat there looking kind of stupid. So I took a handful of salt and rubbed it on the wound. Now that hog really went nuts. It was my way of taking out frustration. Another time, there was a live hog in the pit. It hadn't done anything wrong, wasn't even running around. It was just alive. I took a three-foot chunk of pipe and I literally beat that hog to death. It was like I started hitting the hog and I couldn't stop. And when I finally did stop, I'd expended all this energy and frustration, and I'm thinking what in God's sweet name did I do. (Quoting a slaughterhouse worker)
    • Gail A. Eisnitz, Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry (1997)
  • You have just dined, and, however scrupulously the slaughter-house is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.


  • Thousands—millions and billions—of animals are killed for food. That is very sad. We human beings can live without meat, especially in our modern world. We have a great variety of vegetables and other supplementary foods, so we have the capacity and the responsibility to save billions of lives. I have seen many individuals. and groups promoting animal rights and following a vegetarian diet. This is excellent. Certain killing is purely a "luxury." … But perhaps the saddest is factory farming. The poor animals there really suffer. … We must support those who are attempting to reduce that kind of unfair treatment. An Indian friend told me that his young daughter has been arguing with him that it is better to serve one cow to ten people than to serve chicken or other small animals, since more lives would be involved. In the Indian tradition, beef is always avoided, but I think there is some logic to her argument. Shrimp, for example, are very small. For one plate, many lives must be sacrificed. To me, this is not at all delicious. I find it really awful, and I think it is better to avoid these things. If your body needs meat, it may be better to eat bigger animals. Eventually you may be able to eliminate the need for meat. I think that our basic nature as human beings is to be vegetarian—making every effort not to harm other living beings. If we apply our intelligence, we can create a sound, nutritional program. It is very dangerous to ignore the suffering of any sentient being.
  • Nature is cruel, but we don't have to be. I wouldn't want to have my guts ripped out by a lion. I'd much rather die in a slaughterhouse, if it was done right.


  • Those working in slaughterhouses, for example, are often underpaid and overworked, lack insurance, and are required to use dangerous equipment without adequate training. Turnover and rates of injury for jobs in animal industries are among the highest in the United States. Slaughterhouse employees are almost always poor, they are often immigrants, and they are inevitably viewed by their employers as expendable. Moreover, if we would not like to kill pigs, hens, or cattle all day long, then we should not make food choices that require others to do so. Our dietary choices determine where others work. Will our poorest laborers work in fields of green or in buildings of blood? Fieldwork is difficult, but I worked in the fields as a child, and I am very glad that I never worked in a slaughterhouse.
    • Lisa Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions (Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 286.
  • The cow doesn't grow fast enough for man / So through his greed he makes a faster plan / He has drugs to make the cow grow quicker / Through the stress the cow gets sicker / Twenty-one different drugs are pumped / Into the cow in one big lump / So just before it dies, it cries / In the slaughterhouse full of germs and flies / Off with the head, they pack it, drain it, and cart it / And there it is, in your local supermarket / Red and bloody, a corpse, neatly packed / And you wonder about heart attacks?
    • KRS-One, Boogie Down Productions, 1990, Edutainment, Beef.


  • Quite often the young person is horrified at innocent animals being driven to the slaughterhouse to satisfy the appetites of the human species which could easily feed itself in other ways.
    • Jean Mayer, "Introductory Remarks on Vegetarianism", in Vegetarianism and the Jewish Tradition by Louis A. Berman (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1982), p. xx.


  • Again and again workers told me that they are under tremendous pressure not to report injuries. The annual bonuses of plant foremen and supervisors are often based in part on the injury rate of their workers. Instead of creating a safer workplace, these bonus schemes encourage slaughterhouse managers to make sure that accidents and injuries go unreported. Missing fingers, broken bones, deep lacerations and amputated limbs are difficult to conceal from authorities. But the dramatic and catastrophic injuries in a slaughterhouse are greatly outnumbered by less visible, though no less debilitating, ailments: torn muscles, slipped discs, pinched nerves.
    • Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (2001)
  • They had chains which they fastened about the leg of the nearest hog, and the other end of the chain they hooked into one of the rings upon the wheel. So, as the wheel turned, a hog was suddenly jerked off his feet and borne aloft. At the same instant the car was assailed by a most terrifying shriek; the visitors started in alarm, the women turned pale and shrank back. The shriek was followed by another, louder and yet more agonizing—for once started upon that journey, the hog never came back; at the top of the wheel he was shunted off upon a trolley, and went sailing down the room. And meantime another was swung up, and then another, and another, until there was a double line of them, each dangling by a foot and kicking in frenzy—and squealing. The uproar was appalling, perilous to the eardrums; one feared there was too much sound for the room to hold—that the walls must give way or the ceiling crack. There were high squeals and low squeals, grunts, and wails of agony; there would come a momentary lull, and then a fresh outburst, louder than ever, surging up to a deafening climax. It was too much for some of the visitors—the men would look at each other, laughing nervously, and the women would stand with hands clenched, and the blood rushing to their faces, and the tears starting in their eyes.
  • One could not stand and watch very long without becoming philosophical, without beginning to deal in symbols and similes, and to hear the hog squeal of the universe. Was it permitted to believe that there was nowhere upon the earth, or above the earth, a heaven for hogs, where they were requited for all this suffering? Each one of these hogs was a separate creature. Some were white hogs, some were black; some were brown, some were spotted; some were old, some young; some were long and lean, some were monstrous. And each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope and a heart's desire; each was full of self-confidence, of self-importance, and a sense of dignity. And trusting and strong in faith he had gone about his business, the while a black shadow hung over him and a horrid Fate waited in his pathway. Now suddenly it had swooped upon him, and had seized him by the leg. Relentless, remorseless, it was; all his protests, his screams, were nothing to it—it did its cruel will with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and watched him gasp out his life.


  • As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields.
    • Leo Tolstoy, quoted in The Animal Code: Giving Animals Respect and Rights by Danny Crossman (DoctorZed Publishing, 2011), p. 24.
  • I had wished to visit a slaughter-house, in order to see with my own eyes the reality of the question raised when vegetarianism is discussed. But at first I felt ashamed to do so, as one is always ashamed of going to look at suffering which one knows is about to take place, but which one cannot avert; and so I kept putting off my visit. But a little while ago I met on the road a butcher … He is not yet an experienced butcher, and his duty is to stab with a knife. I asked him whether he did not feel sorry for the animals that he killed. He gave me the usual answer: 'Why should I feel sorry? It is necessary.' But when I told him that eating flesh is not necessary, but is only a luxury, he agreed; and then he admitted that he was sorry for the animals.

See also