After 25 years of working in slaughterhouses, Peter Razpet, from Kamnik in Slovenia, experienced an intense spiritual change which made him put down the butchers knife forever. Here is his compelling interview for the Abolitionist-Online.
Abolitionist: What was it like to work as a butcher in a slaughterhouse for all those years Peter?
Peter: The memory of my first working day in a slaughter house is one of the most horrible one of my life. First I was introduced to my boss and fellow workers, then they gave me an apron, knives and other equipment, needed by a butcher – slaughterer. I shall definitely never forget the moment I entered the room where animals were killed.
If it happened now I would surely turn around and never step over that doorway again. There were about twenty calves hanging on the hooks, some of them beheaded, their bodies still trembling. On the table the eyes of some chopped off heads were still twinkling, as if they were trying to warn me: ''Run away, you don't know what fate awaits you!'' But destiny had different plans for me. My astonishment was noticed by the cleaning woman. When she saw that I was shocked and could not speak, she encouraged me: ''It is only the first day, you’ll get used to it just as I did!''
I had a terrible nightmare dreaming about the slaughter house all night long, so I decided to say goodbye to my fellow workers the next day. I came to work pale after a sleepless night. When the boys noticed that they began to laugh. ''Be brave, you’ll see how nice it is here, you'll just have to get used to it. You'll suffer for a few more days, then everything will be all right.'' They were trying to cheer me up. But scenes from the night before kept coming before my eyes. I saw myself slaughtering little calves, bulls, cows, all animals, that were so dear to me at my home farm. I grew up with them, I used to play with them and now I have to kill them?
A thought kept running through my mind that I did not want to do it but I put on the uniform anyway convinced that it was going to be my last day in the slaughter house. I felt within I would not be able to slaughter the animals. Then the cleaning woman came to me, the one that comforted me the day before. I told her I couldn't go through with it. She grabbed an axe and hit a cow on the head and the cow dropped dead. ''If I can do it as a woman, you can do it too, for you are a strong man!'' Something changed in me then, I felt no further fear, and I began as if I had been doing it for all my life.
From that day on everything was different. I grew fond of the job and had 25 years of a wonderful life as a butcher in the slaughterhouse. Later on I had my own butcher shop and made excellent meat products. My deceased father and my mother helped me. She is 81 and still remembers those times. We, the butchers were really a fine team and good friends. We took time for each other, helping each other. I enjoyed my work and earned good money at the same time. The event changed the next 25 years of my life. Thank God and that woman for it, because otherwise there would be no article like this.
I hope I will make someone's life decisions easier. I’ve dealt with my karma this way. I am very proud of that day now. I don't know, what would happen to me otherwise, but I do know, I would definitely not be as happy as I am now. God sent me that cleaning woman, for if He hadn't, I would not be able to decide for myself this life changing way. I thank Him for giving me that.
Abolitionist Online: Describe the bull on the truck.
Peter: When I was a child my catholic parents registered me in Sunday Christian school. There they taught us that only humans had soul and feelings, animals however were second class beings, serving us, helping us at our work and being our food, but they had no soul and did not suffer like humans.
We had a bull at home. My father once beat him up right there in front of me and the animal started to hate him. My education prevented me from understanding where did all that hatred come from. My father didn't dare to get near the bull from that day on, so we had to sell him. I was the only one, who could pat him and talk to him, as if I was trying to beg him to forgive my Dad. I always loved my father although he sometimes beat me up too. I still feel his kindness and love. He was my great teacher. Later, I never hit my children, because I knew, how badly it hurt.
When we sold the bull, butchers came to pick him up him with a truck. I felt sorry for him so I withdrew. But the bull would let noone near him. So my father asked me to help them. I patted him and told him to be good, so I could take him to the truck. I untied him, told him once again I loved him and he followed me around like a puppy. When I bid him goodbye I saw tears in his eyes. I didn't understand it then. Now, as I write this, tears come to my eyes and I feel sorry I didn't understand then.
Now I know that animals have soul too, they feel the pain, love us maybe more than we love ourselves and others. They want to tell us something, teach us something, just as that bull tried to teach me. Thank God I didn't understand it then. If I did, I wouldn't be being interviewed now. I am glad I didn't have to kill him then. I would have killed someone who loved me and woke up my feelings. I am glad we parted as friends, but his tears will never be forgotten. They had their meaning.
I know now that he was trying to tell me:
Good bye my friend! Tell your Dad, the butchers and all other people, that animals don't hate, but we know how to forgive, so don't kill us without reason. Let us live, so we can all experience heaven, which is celebrated by high officials of the holy church. Finally understand, that the words do not kill are meant for us too. When you understand it, like you did dear Peter, then all wars will end. There will be no more hunger, poor and rich people. Then everybody will have everything and you will all live together in love. Therefore don't judge, what you don't understand, don't judge those, who don't understand it, but help them by your example!
When the butchers saw how the bull followed me they suggested that I should start work as a butcher. And so I soon found myself in a slaughterhouse.
Abolitionist Online: What kind of spiritual experience forced you to put away your butcher’s knife and start a new life?
Peter: After years of running a successful business I went bankrupt because of dishonest business partners. I was in debt, all my friends left me and all my world fell to pieces. I even refused the financial help of my mother. For the first time in my life I asked why has this happened to me? What harm have I done to anyone? On the contrary, I have always helped everyone.
I remembered the words of a fortune teller my friend Berta once took me to her. I had a lot of money then and a part of documentation necessary to build my own slaughterhouse. It was my friend's wish that the fortune teller should predict my destiny. I was loaded with money, I had a wonderful family and lots of friends. She predicted that I would lose everything in three years, go bankrupt and become the biggest poor devil, left all alone without friends or help from anyone. Only faith in God, Mary and Jesus would save me. She said to me:
The job, that you do, is not for you, that's why you will go bankrupt. But you will never think to commit suicide. Just remember this: At the end of all this hell you will become the great winner!
I simply laughed at her and thought to myself, she was the one who needed help, not me.
My friend was left speechless and I wanted to go away as quickly as possible.
The clairvoyant continued:
After this had happened, you will come to me once again and then you will already have a different opinion than now. I am going to tell you some more, so you will believe my words: Today you will have a traffic accident. Police will be involved. After a couple of days you will sustain injury at work!
On my way home I really had a traffic accident. Soon after that I stuck a pig bone into my finger. It caught an infection, so I couldn't work for three weeks. Then I decided to visit her again, although I still did not believe her. When she saw me, she just smiled and asked me what I wanted.
I told her I wanted to know what to expect from my job as a butcher. She made some coffee, put cards on the table and began to predict. I recorded her words. I wanted to know when I would have so much money again as then and who would be my new friends. What would happen to my family?
I can only see, that you will not be doing your job anymore. You are going to do something completely different, more noble. You will get some real friends in a different way. You will have a lot more money than today, but it will have a totally different meaning. Till then you will suffer three more years of pain. You will have to deal with police, justice, hatred, envy even from the dearest ones. I know, you don't believe me. You will come back to me again, when all this is over. Till then you mustn't forget, you will eventually be a great winner. Remain a good man. I wish you luck!
When I asked her, how much I owed her, she answered: ''Luck cannot be brought!'' I gave her about 20 Euros and said good bye, thinking, there is surely something wrong with her, because all that simply cannot happen.
Everything she predicted became true. I really went bankrupt. When I was left all by myself, without anything, humiliated, dishonoured and degraded, I sought shelter in the church of Mother of God in Brezje. It is the biggest and most important pilgrim centre in Slovenia, where many miracles had happened. So I went there in my great distress to find the way out. I was desperately begging for help, when suddenly I heard a voice say, "Do not kill!'' I thought it referred to people who owed me a lot of money as I had threatened them a few times in anger. I still do not know, how I got out of the church and only when I was driving through a tunnel a kilometer away from it I began to see the light again and became aware of driving a car. Then I noticed that my knees were wet. I heard the voice again, saying: ''It refers to animals too!'' It was beyond my understanding. Nevertheless I decided: If this was my way to happiness, I would do it.
At home I told my wife my decision never to kill another animal nor eat meat again. She was surprised and shocked. She had every reason to think I had gone out of my mind but my decision and faith were stronger.
A few days later I invited many friends to celebrate my birthday. When I told them about my decision they were horrified. I prepared the usual dinner for them, while I ate only vegetables and fruits. They watched me with surprise. They were speechless. I overheard them quietly asking my wife what was happening to me. They thought I was fit for the lunatic asylum.
I don't know my answer to my wife's question, what we were going to live on, but today I would surely say on love. I thought then, it was the only thing left to me. However, I lost the love of my wife because of my decision not to be a butcher anymore. My children and my puppy Pika were the only hope worth living for. They didn't understand me, but at least they loved me. I felt their pain, but they believed that with God's help their father would win. My wife failed, but my children and my puppy still have faith in me. Although now I divorced from my wife, we love each other and are still friends. We won together. We trust one another completely and everyone decides upon their destiny and luck by themselves. I’d never let them down and today they know that however hard my decision was at that time it surely was the best solution for all of us.
My puppy Pika was the only one who understood me and from the day I decided not to kill animals anymore she changed completely. She’s never left me, slept at my side and licked my tears that have run down my cheeks at the hardest times. Nobody else understood my pain; they all tried to made a fool of me. My wife forced me to get some treatment. My mother didn't understand my faith and my decision. I often cried on my father's grave begging him to help me. I felt his support as well as my mother's prayers. But it was only my faith in God and myself that helped me to overcome all my troubles and hard times.
Many miracles had to happen, before I could accomplish all that, in which I myself didn't believe anymore. The first miracle was that I had promised my aunt to slaughter a pig for her. This was before my decision not to kill animals anymore. I simply couldn't imagine myself being able to do it. So I decided to lie that I had fever and they should get another butcher. But my aunt waited for me right there on her doorstep saying that she had fever, so the slaughtering day with pork and sausages was off. It was one of the happiest days for me and from then on I haven't even thought of taking life from any living being!
Miracles happen to me every day. One of them is my writing articles for your magazine. If only a few readers understand my story; it will be another miracle. I think that Man nowadays is too greedy, living in a material world rather than in a spiritual one, therefore he doesn't see miracles anymore. The day is coming, when we all will have to step together, stop wars, stop being greedy, as well as hating and killing each other. We must realise love heals everyone no matter how sick they are. If we did that today, the miracle could probably happen at once.
Abolitionist Online: What has changed for you as a Christian since you stopped working as a butcher?
Peter: I considered myself a Christian only when somebody asked me about my religion, which happened rarely. I used to go to church and even sing in a church choir for seven years. I considered myself a believer. When hard times began for me, I got less support from fellow believers, brothers and sisters. In fact, they were the ones who judged me. The ones, who spoke in church: Do not judge lest thee be judged! Thank God I didn't start to hate them, like they hated me, I didn't swear and curse, like they did. I threatened those, who owed me money, that I would kill them, if they didn't gave it back. I went to church, to confession, but continued the same way again, considering myself a believer.
After the miracle made by Mary Mother of God and the words I had heard in Brezje, I stopped killing animals so my life changed completely. I told Father Leopold, who lives in Brezje and was consecrated specially for Mary's miracles, about my experience. He said, it was pure God's grace, meant for me. He advised me not to tell about it to people for whom I feel that they would not understand. Many miracles happen in Brezje. Books of thanks written by grateful believers bear witness to that fact.
Since then I have loved all the people and I have sent my love to all creation. I thank Divine love for showing me the way of recognition, the way that could change this world into great heaven in a moment. Everything around us is divine; everything that happens has its meaning. I believe that the only way is to love ones near to us and also love all living beings, regardless of religion and race. Only this way true happiness occurs. If you look in the mirror in the morning and you don't see anything divine and unique then the day is lost. When we start seeing it and living with it, then everything around us is paradise, into which God had sent us to live in and love ourselves.
Abolitionist Online: What are your thoughts on solving the worldwide problem of famine and starvation by veganism/vegetarianism and what are your thoughts on how to achieve world peace with the help of vegan/vegetarian nourishment?
Peter: It is impossible to achieve world peace either by vegetarianism nor Christianity in my view. It is not important what food man eats or what his religion is. All spiritual and political leaders and all other people will have to ignore religions to make peace in the world. Religions manipulate by making people do all sorts of things. Many people become rich on account of poor believers. Some vegetarians are convinced that everything can be solved by not eating meat and killing animals. I don't agree with that. I think that meat is not the right food for man, but more importantly, what we think and do and how we treat our fellow man and all of nature is the key rather than what we eat.
In my room there are pictures of Jesus, Mary and many religious souvenirs, which I bought or was given as presents. Many people say: ''You are a very religious man!'' I answer, that I was, but now I am just faithful to God. A man who truly believes in God and himself and is becoming aware of his mission on this planet does not need anyone anymore.
He needs no vegetarians, no butchers, no priests, no politicians to become good, not to hate, not to kill animals or people, not to have to join the army. The problem of famine would not be solved by vegetarianism but through love. The kind of nourishment is not a problem of famine. It is greed and people getting rich on account of famine. The money collected to help the poor often goes to wrong people. Various organisations, that are supposed to help the poor, spend the money for their own needs. Those who really need it get only the remains.
If the rich got to know the right way, they would become aware that happiness cannot be bought. Money and wealth don't bring us luck. I had a lot of money. I am not sorry that I gave it all away. Even more, I am grateful to those who still owe me money, because that way I learned to forgive. I stopped hating and found out, that I didn't have to be rich to be happy. Man can be happy, when he becomes aware: I am happy to be alive!
The earth we live on is capable of nourishing a lot more of us than it has done till now. But it needs our love and respect.
Unfortunately many people still haven't realized that we do not take anything with us after we die, so they want to grab as much money and things as possible. Greed itself will be the cause of even bigger catastrophes, earthquakes and storms. Sooner or later we will have to admit that we are responsible for all that, because we cause it ourselves.
If we change our relations to each other, to living beings, plants and nature, it would give us fruits and crops by itself. We won’t kill animals to satisfy our hunger. If I hadn't experienced it myself, I would still be killing animals, eating their meat and feeding other people with their corpses. Thank God, I was shown a different way. We are all sent from God to live in peace and wealth. When this is realised there’ll be no more hunger or poor people in this wonderful world.
Abolitionist Online: Tell us more about the work you do at ALVADOR.
Peter: The society is called ALVADOR, which spiritually means ‘a man of fire’. I established it six years ago. As a young man I felt the meaning of life is not living only for yourself but also giving something beautiful to others and others giving it back to you. This makes you happy.
And so my friends and I have been helping people in distress already for six years. After my life fell apart I found a new way which lead me to natural healing. I help people with words and bio-energy. I make teas from medicinal herbs and medicines which can be used to heal various diseases. My life story helps others to. People write letters to me, send articles and stories, thank me and encourage me. In this way we create something beautiful together without even knowing each other.
Our group also organises various cultural and humanitarian meetings. My fellow traveller in life Matea helps me a lot. She’s experienced some very hard times in her life too, therefore she understands and supports me in all my new activities. Matea is a writer. She has already written 17 books, mostly for children. Every year we donate quite a lot of books to children and families who have no money to buy them.
We have also been organising a singing performance for 12 years with a title ‘When a Song Inspires Our Hearts’. More than 800 singers from Slovenia and all over the world take part in it every year. Unforgettable friendships were made at these meetings which has lead to much cultural cooperation.
In future we are preparing our own magazine and planning lectures abroad too. We will be more than happy to accept every invitation and offer help to people in distress anytime. We have many other plans too, which we will realise with help of God, Mary and Jesus. I am often thankful for that gift, given to me by God, Mary and Jesus. When my life broke to pieces I kept wondering, why me? Now I do not wonder anymore. I am now thankful that it happened. I am at peace and wish this upon others I know also.
Abolitionist Online: What do you think about your past life as an ex-slaughterman now?
Peter: I am very proud to be given that chance. If I hadn't chosen that job, I would have had a different life today. I wouldn’t be so happy and glad, I wouldn't know myself. I would have no time for myself and would not understand people. So I would judge them. I would go to church, listen to words with little sense which seldom prove true. I have experienced a lot more misfortune, pain and hatred in church among my fellow believers than in any slaughter house. Without those experiences I wouldn't be able to help people. I would keep on accusing vegetarians of not being normal and telling them, they would die without consuming meat. I wouldn't be so fond of animals. Our puppy Mišo is a member of the family. She sleeps and eats with us. She is half vegetarian, but chooses her food by herself. If we eat fruit, she eats it too. I am sure, she is thankful for my decision too.
Nevertheless, there are still a lot of wonderful memories left of my time as a butcher. They will be described in a book I am currently preparing. I am going to describe thoroughly all the nice and less nice things that have happened to me. I am glad that they had happened right now in this life.
Abolitionist Online: Do you ever feel the temptation to still kill an animal?
Peter: According to the my contemporary consideration, I can only say, that I would never, not for the entire world, kill an animal to feed myself and other people with an animal’s corpse.
I believe in miracles and I am sure God would not allow me to kill another animal, not after all I have been through. God has sent us to this planet; he knows no killing, no hatred and greed. He is love. Killing, hatred and all negative things were chosen by us alone, although we hardly admit it. When we realise this, we will not be tempted to kill anyone anymore. But until then we do not have the right to judge people who do it. We must be aware, that it is their decision and destiny, just like it was mine. Without God's help, I wouldn't have made it!
Abolitionist Online: What do your flesh eating friends think about your new life?
Peter: A journalist once asked me about my opinion on ''slaughterers as murderers'', not slaughterers as butchers. I like the expression ‘flesh eating friends.’
I accept flesh eaters like all human beings, which have their mission. I love them just as much as I love all people. What they think of my way of living is their own business. I know that some of them are making a fool of me and do not like me at all.
They are friends, with whom I had eaten many suckling pigs
and lambs, which were given to them as gifts from me. They don't invite me
to their celebrations and feasts anymore. They don't come to my celebrations
neither, although I keep inviting them.
They left me when I needed them most, they didn't feel my pain. After I had no more money, they turned away from me, they were no longer interested in me. They just wanted to know, how I lived at the time, what I ate and what I was occupied with. I am glad, they had left me, it was their choice.
They don't understand me, so they think I am weird. I am glad, that I am capable of loving them, even more than in times, when I had been delivering meat and many other things to them. I share love with them, even at distance.
Flesh eaters come to me looking for help too, but they never ask me what I ate and what I eat now to become such a man. Some of them even don't know, that I am a vegetarian. When I go to butcher's shop to buy meat for kids and friends, nobody knows I don't eat meat. If I tell a shop assistant, I am a butcher, she usually says: ''No wonder you are so nicely fat. Butchers were never thin!'' The butcher who knows me, simply laughs and then everybody is happy.
When I visit my home folks I always stop at the butcher shop to see if there are any of my ex fellow workers. Last time I saw my former fellow worker – a butcher, whom I haven't seen for 10 years. He was very glad to see me. We hugged and of course spoke about good old times, we had together as young men. Suddenly I realised, that I had no photos of that butcher's shop. So I put on butcher's clothes and we made some beautiful photos. We agreed to see each other again and he gave me his visiting – card. Next day I noticed an inscription beside his name and address:
Already in Genesis the first sin of Adam and Eve showed that vegetarianism can be harmful and dangerous.
This friend, a butcher is a wonderful man. It was a splendid meeting. But if I were still a butcher, we wouldn't have experienced it that way.
Abolitionist Online: Does eating meat make you a better man?
Peter: After a turning point in my life, I had problems with my wife, mother and sister as well as some friends, because of my decision to give up my job as a butcher. But I never felt so low and I was never so humiliated by any of my once friends who were butchers or people who still owed me money, than I was in my home church by Christians, regular church goers. My fellow believers humiliated me, judged me and kept telling lies about me.
One day I had enough and I told the parson and all my relatives I would take my own steps if they didn't stop. But they did not, so one Sunday I stepped in front of the microphone just before the end of the Holy Mass. I asked people not to leave. My 14-year-old daughter was the only relative hearing that Mass, the others didn't come. I asked about 600 people, who were present at that time, why they kept judging me, because I did not owe them anything to be humiliated in this way. I pray for them. With Gods' help I gathered all my strength to stop hating them. I invited those who think I owe them something to wait for me in the church yard and I will give it all back to them.
After these words my daughter stood up in the middle of the church, while others ran away. Only two friends remained in front of the church. One of them said to the other: ''There was only one believer in our church today and that is Peter!'' After this affair, the parson said, that he would not administer Holy Communion to me anymore because I was living in sin according to church laws. I told that to my mother who’s very religious. A year after that she told me she went to speak with the parson. She told him how much I suffered and that he had no right to deny me the holy host. I answered, that perhaps the parson was having a bad day. I felt no more obligation to go to back to church.
I still go to church. Churches are beautiful, the work of human hands is in them, pictures and statues, created by people because of their love of God. I go to church to be able to talk to God in peace inside of them too. But the truth is that no mediators are necessary between God and man.
Being a vegetarian doesn't make me a better Christian but I am a different man. All living beings are my friends and nature is my home. God sent us to it, not to divide ourselves to good and bad, flesh eaters and vegetarians. He sent us to recognise him in ourselves and each other first and live together in happiness and love, so that some day we can melt with this love, which I now call God.
Contact Peter Razpet by email or mail at Alvador, P.P. 36, 1241 Kamnik, Slovenija.