A couple of weeks ago I travelled home on the bus, train is too expensive at short notice, and had an experience which still arrests me. The driver of the bus wouldn't let me take my guitar onto the coach, despite my protestations that I only had a soft case for it, and I had an argument with him before finally relenting and placing the geetar carefully in the hold. I jumped off at each stop to ensure no damage was being done, as people threw in their suitcases, and during a stop in Manchester I was engaged in conversation by the said driver of the bus. When I said I was from Annan he said he used to work at the slaughterhouse there and proclaimed that it was his job to 'kill sheep'. He said that 'in the factory' 6,000 sheep per day could be slaughtered there!! The carnage would commence at 7am, running in shifts until sometimes, 2am the next morning. As he conveyed this I felt my face glaze over at the sheer industrial scale of slaughter happening. I guess it should have been obvious that this number of animals are being put to death on a daily basis in these places but to hear it left me utterly appalled at what seemed such a barbarism. I got back onto the coach, and it may have been lack of sleep or the previous day's alcohol, but for at least an hour concentration or thinking about anything else seemed impossible.
Since this experience I've had one or two lapses but otherwise haven't had meat since. I'm not necessarily saying I will manage to stick to it, I've had a couple of spells of vegetarianism previously and lasted only six months on both occasions, but it's made me think in a way which I perhaps haven't ever before. The reality of what goes on in slaughterhouses has been documented many times but to hear it declared in such a matter of fact way, and accepting that the bus driver probably needed the work, has underlined that in a world of much oppression our most oppressed can in fact be animals. I may return to eating meat again regularly, and would wish to avoid this being a hypocritical rant, but it has certainly given me pause.