melbourne vegan

Jaclyn McCosker

When Your Food Chain Is Censored: The hidden violence in animal products

When Your Food Chain Is Censored: The hidden violence in animal products

We live in a society where it's a crime to document where food comes from.

Think about that for a second.


A society where we're not allowed to post images of animal agriculture on social media, to display these images in public, or to even take these images in the first place. Because the violence in this industry is so extreme that when consumers see the process, they stop buying the product. And that's bad for business.

A society where food production is so distressing, we can't show it to you without a content warning.

A society where it's considered a crime to document what happens in the facilities that produce animal products.

A society where it's considered inappropriate to talk about where food comes from or what it is made of.

A society where people that want to discuss facts using objective evidence are socially outcast and labelled as extremists.


The violent death of animals is fundamentally unpalatable to humans, and nobody is comfortable enough with the way animals are being treated to want to be reminded of it. The reality is so stomach-turning, most people know they would have to change their behaviour if they had to witness it. So they choose to hide this process, rather than change the way things are.

We've constructed our modern world in a way that it's the people that expose crimes that are punished for them. When a vegan takes a photo of a dairy cow on the way to the slaughterhouse, it's the people that consume meat and dairy that blame the vegan for exposing the truth. Animal activists stop a slaughterhouse truck to document the illegal standards and expose the animal cruelty inside, and meat eaters accuse them of causing the animal distress by delaying their slaughter.

Instead of being mad at the farmers, slaughterhouses or demand-creating consumers for inflicting such terrible violence upon animals; we instead get mad at the people who merely inform us that violence is occurring.

Blame is deflected from those at fault onto those that exposed the problem.

This blame deflection is typical in a society constructed on a hierarchy where one must always be above another in gender, class, race, sexuality or any other identifying characteristic. We see this in the way women are framed as man-hating trouble-makers when they simply point out how women are disadvantaged within the current culture.

No matter how objectively the facts are explained or how much evidence backs the statement, those who benefit from the status quo find a way to twist the situation and direct their anger at those brave enough to start the conversation.

In NSW, Australia and several states of the US, there are already ag-gag laws that criminalise whistle-blowers that expose criminal actions in the animal agriculture industry. This refers to animal abuse beyond that which the law permits. Yes, exposing crime is now a crime in these places. The live export and racing industries are already funding a push towards a federal ag-gag law across Australia, so local activists are concerned that soon, being a good citizen will be outlawed.

It's already illegal to document animal cruelty due to private property laws, even if you are documenting illegal activity. It's then illegal to publish this information, despite the fact it is a public service of interest to the public, or the fact that it saves lives and brings justice to known criminals.

On top of this, routine practices in animal agriculture are blurred and given content warnings on social media, if they're not deleted entirely for their traumatic nature. Whether it's slaughter or an image of procedures such as tail docking, teeth pulling, or other painful and violent acts committed against farm animals every day in Australia.

Yet while we censor and outright ban how animal-based foods are made, it is not just legal but considered "normal" to share imagery of the end product - the butchered carcases - across TV, billboards, junk mail, Internet ads, and social media. Day in and out we're all bombarded with images of meat, dairy and eggs in advertising in a desperate attempt to normalise these products and convince consumers they should buy them. These ads anxiously reinforce the cultural belief that animal products are in a sense “healthy” or somehow part of a normal or balanced diet.

So we are allowed to share images of a dead animal when it is without context and removed from its original form. We're just not allowed to remind anyone that the animal was once a living, feeling being. Because once society makes that connection between the individual animal and the meal in front of them, the animal agriculture industry loses out financially.

The censorship of animal abuse and slaughter and the necessity of ag-gag laws prove that what is happening inside these farms and slaughterhouses is morally reprehensible to the general public. If the companies committing these atrocities thought consumers were OK with their methods, they would allow us to bear witness to what happens behind those slaughterhouse walls. 

As it stands, our food production system is so heinous that the public needs to be sheltered from it. But if the violence is so socially unacceptable that we mock, bully and outcast anyone that talks about it... why do we keep paying people to commit this violence in the first place?

You can refuse to support ag-gag laws and take the most powerful step you can to telling the government that you value animal rights - withdraw your financial support from animal products.

Let's stop censoring reality and instead shine a light on the hidden violence in animal products. Let's swap the security guards for glass walls. If you don't like animal abuse, it's time to divert your anger towards those committing it and demand to know the truth. It's time we uncensored the food chain.

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