Why I Am Vegan

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Why I Am Vegan

By Walter Bond on Thomas Paine's Corner
September 2010

Like all industries of animal exploitation, the circle of abuse will end with the antagonist (humans) falling prey to its own perfidiousness...

When I first started the smells, sights, and sounds were overbearing. I kept telling myself, “This is what you eat; don’t get squeamish.” Within 6 to 8 weeks I felt soul dead. For 12 hours, sometimes 15, I often worked ankle deep in gore.

To this day in certain areas of the Midwest you have to sign a waiver stating that the water from public works is hazardous to your health and that you are “OK” with that before they will turn your water on.

In the winter of 1995, when I was 19 years old, I got a job with a company by the name of Dakota Mechanical. We built slaughter-houses in the Midwest, mainly in Iowa. The state of Iowa is the largest producer of pork in the nation. At the time I was employed in that evil industry there were 27 slaughter-houses for pigs alone. I helped build the IBP plant in Logansport, Indiana as well. It was a brand new plant.

I never saw an animal murdered in the 9 or so months I worked in Logansport, but it wasn’t difficult for me to get the gist of what many of those machines would do when in operation. I was primarily a forklift operator to begin with, but then worked my way to industrial plumber’s apprentice. After that factory was built there was a three month layoff.

But soon I got the call for the next job. The one that would forever change my life. It was a smaller job; we were to build an extension to the kill floor at the IBP plant in Perry, Iowa. In this fully functioning slaughter-house I saw the most grizzly mechanized murders that there are to witness. Since it was an old facility we were constantly called away from our construction work to do maintenance throughout the plant. From the pen runs, to the kill floor, to rendering, over the course of 5 months I was a confederate and accomplice to it all.

When I first started the smells, sights, and sounds were overbearing. I kept telling myself, “This is what you eat; don’t get squeamish.” Within 6 to 8 weeks I felt soul dead. For 12 hours, sometimes 15, I often worked ankle deep in gore.

Like the three days I worked plumbing rinse stations with 40 gallon drums of de-skinned hogs’ heads staring at me.

Or the times I would have to take the forklift behind the facility to gather raw materials, right next to which was a 25 foot pile of ‘defective’ hogs which were ‘unfit for human consumption.’ For one reason or another they were left in heaping piles, exposed to the elements and freezing to death in the Iowa cold. With all the horrors to which I was privy, it’s that pile of freezing dead that still haunts my soul.

Then came the day that changed me. We were wrapping up all our tools and cleaning up when a hog who had been knocked out with an electric jolt, had his throat stuck, and had been hung upside down to bleed to death woke up, convulsed, and freed himself of the foot-hold. He came running off of the kill floor straight toward me and the rest of the crew. Three IBP workers gave chase. One with a pipe wrench and two with baseball bats. They began to beat the hog to death. I turned away as I thought anyone would……I was wrong. As I turned, I was face to face with the rest of my crew. While listening to the thuds and squeals of a blunt force death a mere 30 feet behind me, I watched as my co-workers whooped and cheered, high-fiving each other each time there was a thud, laughing and celebrating the violent death of a sentient being.

That night in my hotel room my mind raced. I was disgusted with myself. I was disgusted with humanity. I quit eating meat. A few days later my foreman approached me and asked if I need to borrow any money. I said, “No, why do you ask?” He said that he’d noticed that all I’d been eating was peanut butter and jelly and that he thought I was broke. I told him that I wasn’t broke and that I was simply done eating meat. He began heckling me and calling me a “born-again tree hugger.” I quit on the spot.

I went home and began to study Animal Rights. I went vegan and became active in a legal capacity. I spent years tabling and talking with people. I worked at animal sanctuaries and rescued animals whenever I could.

I have never felt that anything I have done or will do on behalf of our Mother Earth and her animal nations has been enough. Those machines I built back in 1996 are still murdering, even as I write this. That is my guilt and my shame; I earned them. But it is also my strength and resolve. Nothing will ever make me forget the plight of factory farmed animals and so-called free range, which is just as sick, wrong, unnecessary, and indefensible.

Like all industries of animal exploitation, the circle of abuse will end with the antagonist (humans) falling prey to its own perfidiousness. For instance, my grandfather was a hog farmer whom I never met. He died in the year of my birth, after the ammonia from hog waste destroyed his lungs. That same waste run-off from his and adjoining hog farms in the 70’s poisoned the ground water, allowing illegal levels of radium to pollute the tap water. To this day in certain areas of the Midwest you have to sign a waiver stating that the water from public works is hazardous to your health and that you are “OK” with that before they will turn your water on.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth restating. It is these industries of death that are the animal and Earth terrorists. Not those who fight against them.