To Grandmother's House We Go
An Animal Rights Article from


David Gerow Irving, Author of The Protein Myth

November 2017

At the thought of pork chops you sometimes wince. You can’t quite forget the brutality of the worker who slammed the little piglets from over his head, bashing them down on the concrete floor and then throwing them on a heap of other dying, mortally wounded piglets all writhing in a suffering mass of cruelty and pain. You wish you’d never seen the video. But that’s what the animal rights group do, investigative reporting no one can deny. You even mentioned the video to the guys at work, how a supervisor shoved a cane up a sow’s vagina, how the workers beat the pigs with metal gate rods, how another supervisor kicked a pig in the genitals and face and said: “You gotta beat on the bitch. Make her cry.”

“What kind of crap do you watch anyway,” Frank, your boss at the newspaper asks.

“Yeah! What’s with you Baker,” Charlie Morrison asks. “Don’t we have enough going on in the world without this kind of idiocy?”

Somebody else says something about the radical animal rights people being at it again.

The other guys, too. They don’t want to hear. Don’t want to know about it. Go tell someone else. They all gave you that look that asks “What kind of person are you, anyway?” And these are the good guys. All upstanding, liberal, progressives just like you. Didn’t you march against the war in Vietnam? Didn’t you write letters to the editor against Bush’s war in Iraq? Didn’t you vote for Obama and Jill Stein? Don’t you support gay rights? And of course, you support the rights of the poor. You're on the side of blacks, the Latinos. Make that all minorities. Women’s rights? Goes without saying. Equal pay for equal work. And don’t forget health care. All these issues, right at the top of your personal agenda.

So what else could anyone want anyway? Doesn’t this show where you stand? You're supposed to give up meat just because some redneck bashed some baby pigs on a concrete floor? Yes, yes, yes! You know all about it. The world's population is going to more than double in the next twenty years or so. Even moreso, the consumption of meat will double in the next forty, meaning more and more and more livestock to butcher in a world that already slaughters 25 billion animals a year for food. And yes, it’s true because the United Nations said it, the animal food industry takes up 30% of the world’s ice-free land. And yes, how much land will it take up when the consumption of livestock doubles? And yes, all the corn, soy, grain, and water used to feed these animals depletes the world’s tropical rain forests. And yes again, it's true these crops could be used to eliminate hunger in the world and all the social problems that go along with that. And yadda, yadda, yadda! Yes, yes, and yes, ad nauseum! You know all about it, that America has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 15% of the world’s meat, and yes, you know all this meat produces one fifth of the earth’s greenhouse emissions…even more, it turns out. Stop already! Enough is enough!

Besides, the piglets happened out in Iowa on a farm producing ham for a major food supplier, Hormel Foods or something like that. What could anyone expect you to do about that? Who knows what they’ll do out in the boonies. It’s not your fault! And it sure wasn't Hormel's, was it? They’ll know what to do. Prosecute the case and it will be gone. Whish! Down the drain. Forgotten!. Anyway, you have enough on your mind. With the company in hot water because of some shenanigans in the front office you might not get that Christmas bonus you’ve been expecting. More than that, your father died last year. Heart attack! Your mother went the year before. Cancer! You just want peace of mind. You just want never to be reminded of those ghastly images of the piglets. To be comfortable. That’s what you want. No more worry. Isn’t that what everyone wants? You’re a serious liberal. A progressive. That takes thought. It takes heart. It takes soul. It takes understanding. It takes guts. You’re in the vanguard of the world, working towards a progressive society with equal rights for all. There! Now that’s where you stand all right when push comes to shove!

Well at least turkey day is coming up! That’s always a blast. The wife will be away visiting her sister, so you’re glad your cousin Jimmy’s doing the honors this year. The relatives will be there. Other friends too. And your boss! A chance to make a good impression. A few good jokes, a little wine. All will be merry. Cranberry sauce! Candied sweet potatoes with a topping of melted marshmallows! Spicy stuffing! Mashed potatoes, and thick, brown gravy! And, of course, the big bird! They’ve been showing how to best cook and baste them with special recipes on TV all week long. NPR radio even had this Greek guy telling how his mother used to stuff them with all kinds of Greek herbs. Yep, when it comes to uniting the country, nothing does it quite like the big bird, conservatives and progressives alike. All one big family. Especially when the master of the house carries the bird in from the kitchen steaming hot all browned and handsome and sets it down in the middle of the table to a chorus of “ahs” and “oohs” and “isn’t it magnificent!”

* * * * *

At last the day arrives and all come together with one common mind. The last few years has offered plenty to be thankful for, but now there is worry all around with the new administration in Washington. This is one year when the Thanksgiving prayer recounting life’s blessings means more than ever. You gladly join in holding hands around the table while your boss says the prayer sending out blessings to the world and especially wherever poverty, bloodshed, and greed are in control…including in your own country.

“What a beautiful, beautiful big bird,” Helen Twimbly says salivating, as soon as the prayer is finished and everyone is reaching for the napkins on their plates and putting them on their laps. The guests nod their agreement. Grandpa tucks his napkin under his shirt like a bib.

A smile creeps up on little Miss Judy Twimbly’s mischievous face.

“Know what?” Judy asks sweetly.

“What’s that dear,” Helen asks patiently. She smiles around the table to get everyone’s attention. Her precocious daughter is speaking.

“We had a substitute teacher in last week for 'lit' named Mr. Dirckson,” Judy continues.

“Is that right dear? How interesting!”

“Well Mr. Dirckson, he said that turkeys have been engineered to produce these big fat turkey breasts everyone wants, so that now the turkeys can hardly walk. They fall over and break their legs. They can’t even breed anymore so they have to be artificially inseminated! You should see how it’s done. It’s disgusting!”

Judy grins brightly at the guests who fidget and lower their eyes. Timmy Twimbly, Judy’s little brother, covers his mouth with his hand and snickers. Frank, your boss, clears his throat and taps his fingers beside his plate. John Twimbly glares at his daughter with looks that could kill.

“Honey!” Helen says flustered, the red creeping into her cheeks. “How many times have I told you not to tell inappropriate stories at dinner. Now then. Would someone please pass the corn bread and send along the butter too.”

The corn bread is sitting next to you so you pass it to the left. At the same time the cranberry sauce comes at you from the right. You take it, scoop out a portion on your plate and pass it left.

Cousin Jimmy is cutting the turkey. He asks if you’d like dark or white. You look at the big bird with the huge breast sitting basted and brown in the center of the table, just one of 48 million other turkeys decorating tables across the country on Thanksgiving Day. One wing has already been cut away, and Grandpa holds it clutched in his hand as he begins to gnaw at it. Jimmy is carving the air with the serrated knife waiting for your reply. Suddenly the bird begins to writhe in pain. It features change and it’s the little piglet lying on the pile of all the other little bloodied piglets bashed and battered. You shake your head and rub your eyes and the bird is back on the table again. A sigh of relief escapes your lips.

“Make it dark, Jimmy!” you cackle. You know the dark meat contains more cholesterol, but what the hell, it’s Thanksgiving Day. You wonder why you cackled like that. You vaguely wonder about your cholesterol count. You know you should get it checked and wish your father had heeded your many warnings to get his checked, but you quickly put that out of mind. All you want is peace.

* * * * *

Everyone is stuffed after dinner and you slowly wander into the living room and grab one of the arm chairs, this one seated in the corner. The sound of dishes and silverware being washed and put away drifts out from the kitchen. The other guests are also beginning to congregate in the living room and the conversation is low and sporadic.

Little Judy Twimbly sees you sprawled in the arm chair in the corner and minces over to you with little tiny steps carrying the New York Times. She leafs through it mechanically, looking you mischievously in the eye and points to an article.

“Will you just look at this!” she says. “I’ve never read anything so disgusting in my life!”

She hands you the paper and waits expectantly. You’re suspicious, but you take the bait and begin to read.

"An animal rights group on Tuesday released undercover videotapes taken at the nation’s premier poultry-breeding operation.... The scenes show stomach-turning brutality. Workers are seen smashing birds into loading cages like basketballs, stomping heads and breaking necks, apparently for fun, even pretending to rape one.... After seeing the video Tuesday, company representatives said they 'condemn the abuse of any of the animals in our care and will take swift action to address these issues.' They promised an investigation that could lead to the employees being fired."

You glance up at Judy with alarm. The piglets in your mind are beginning to squirm.

“I know what I’m going to do when I grow up?” Judy says insolently. “I’m going to become an undercover investigator just like that and protect innocent animals. You won’t see a dead bird on my Thanksgiving Day table when I’m your age.”

You feel Judy’s triumphant eyes boring into you waiting for a reply.

For more of David's books and music, visit Protecting Animals From Human Cruelty.

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