“The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. If you work in the stick pit [where hogs are killed] for any period of time—that let’s [sic] you kill things but doesn’t let you care. You may look a hog in the eye that’s walking around in the blood pit with you and think, ‘God, that really isn’t a bad looking animal.’ You may want to pet it. Pigs down on the kill floor have come up to nuzzle me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them. … I can’t care.”
It will come as no surprise that the consequences of such emotional dissonance include domestic violence, social withdrawal, drug and alcohol abuse, and severe anxiety. As slaughterhouse workers are increasingly being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, researchers are finally starting to systematically explore the results of killing sentient animals for a living.
Animal products these days are sold with a story: the animal was humanely raised, it was cage-free, it was free-ranged, it was pasture-fed, it’s hormone-free. Whatever. Excluded from these stories is the fact that an animal was killed. He or she was a sentient being who didn’t want to die. And the person who killed it—the person we almost never consider—has had to declare “I can’t care” to cope with the trauma of his job.
Excerpt from an article by James McWilliams