VEGA News Item

Come On Brum! - 15/05/2009

Lead with a Day of Disgust at the Butchery in the City

1. Pak Mercia Meats has raised outrage in local residents and councillors in Birmingham by the firm's plans to expand Birmingham Slaughterhouse: it wants to build a new sheep-holding area in an industrial unit next to its current site in Barford Street, Highgate. The new area would allow up to 850 sheep, divided into a series of pens, to be held. The owner of the plant, Mohammed Akram, defending the plan, stated that the slaughterhouse had always met government hygiene standards and had been in operation for more than 40 years.

2. More than 100 residents have sent letters of objection and Councillor Margaret Waddington has said: "We should not have animals in the middle of our city." Other councillors have indicated that an out-of-town solution "would be preferable."

3. Birmingham's Bull Ring stands as an unfortunate refutation of the citizens' sensitivities. In olden times animals for slaughter were brought into the cities - after all what were the notorious cattle trucks and streets and alleys named the shambles for? - so that the meat could be quickly retailed with less time on the hook. The animals' welfare was overlooked and the quality of meat from the agitated livestock was poor. Bulls arrived for slaughter in a particularly excited and fighting state, so dogs were used to provoke the bulls into stressed exhaustion and therefore of less danger to handlers and in trying to escape and terrorise the citizenry. The spectacle of doomed, distressed livestock dismayed the burghers of Birmingham long before Pak Mercia Meats' plans for lairages.

4. These practices changed as refrigeration allowed shortening of journey times and longer intervals through the food chain on the hook; so bigger slaughterhouses were set up in areas of production and the gory practices and pollution were removed out of sight and out of mind, saving the townspeople some twinges of conscience over activities in the farm-to-fork foodchain.

5. Resolute objections by citizens, customers, and consumers with boycotts and Lysistra - like denials of favors are likelier to achieve more effect in curbing the evils of the meat-industry than petitions to local councillors. Our Portfolio of Eating Plans offer a choice of well-attested meat - and dairy-free alternatives to nourish a peaceful and cruelty-free Day of Disgust that could put Birmingham in the forefront of worthy reform.


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