I’ve been an ethical vegan for a little over two years now. In short, this means I hold very strong views on animal welfare. As my awareness and understanding around the abuse of animals has grown, so has my activism. I’ll write about this in future posts.
#wakeupworld Melbourne Pig Save Vigil
#wakeupworld is a worldwide campaign held by the Animal Save Movement. The Animal Save Movement is comprised of groups globally who bear witness to pigs, cattle, chickens and other farmed animals en route to slaughter. The goal of the Animal Save Movement is to raise awareness of the plight of farmed animals, to help people become vegan and to build a grass-roots, mass animal rights movement.
#wakeupworld was a five day campaign where activists were encouraged to bring along non-vegan or non-activist friends and family to a vigil at a slaughterhouse to bear witness to animals in their final moments.
The specific aim is to help people make a connection between the individuals and the food on their plate and sign up for Veganuary: www.veganuary.com/save. This is a time of the year to get together as families and be reminded that all animals, human and non-human value their loved ones.
Bearing Witness: my first time
The intent of #wakeupworld was to bring along someone new to bear witness at a slaughterhouse. This someone new was me: this event was my first time bearing witness at an event.
I consider to have a heightened understanding around the process of animal agriculture – watching videos is a daily practice to me. As heart-wrenching as this is, I feel it’s important for me to fully understand the facts of animal agriculture.
For all the graphic video content I have viewed, nothing could prepare me for the experience of being present to bear witness to pigs as they entered the slaughterhouse. Bearing Witness is a term that, used in psychology, refers to sharing our experiences with others, most notably in the communication to others of traumatic experiences. Bearing witness is a valuable way to process an experience, to obtain empathy and support, to lighten our emotional load via sharing it with the witness, and to obtain catharsis.
It’s an incredibly painful experience but also empowering. Every aspect of the process is managed: from approval and agreement from the slaughterhouse, adherence to a strict code of conduct, debriefing and self-care following the event.
For all of the planning, preparation and watching content online, nothing – absolutely nothing – can describe the experience of bearing witness. The smells, the fear of the animals, the grief and the kindness of the community who put themselves on the line are an experience that you can’t forget. Yet one I will do again, and again.
Below is a beautiful (non-graphic and non-violent) video of the day made by Dominique Ross, who like a number of other professional photographers, attend all vigils and events and donate their skills and time to capture these moments.
For further video, I capture video diary of the day, which can be viewed on my personal Instagram highlights (Bearing Witness) here.