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The euphemisms of animal exploitation

July 26, 2021

People love defining another’s suffering in manners that provides them personal comfort and not the actual victims; animal exploitation is bloody, abusive, violent, and the cause of unimaginable fear and suffering regardless of how aesthetically appealing humans disguise it.

If you get angsty by grammar that legitimately describes the horrors animals experience, just remember that nobody takes their beloved cat or dog to be “humanely euthanized” in a slaughterhouse, nor are companies/animal farmers/execs happily transparent regarding this “process” by sharing footage of the gruesome, bloody, agonizing “end” of animals: in fact, the exposure of slaughterhouses is typically only from undercover exposes, former employees, or unnamed current employees. (Although there are some slaughterhouses that film the graphic, fearful, and agonizing killing of unwilling, terrified, innocent animals, the problem is, nobody watches the footage. Who wants to, though, when you can remain willfully ignorant of the violence you inflict on innocents? And, too, why is footage even needed when the reality of slaughterhouse existences …. well …. exists? It’s a slaughterhouse, its purpose is to kill as fast, as many, as cheaply and efficiently as possible, why people believe that good things happen in one is bizarre.)

Stop pretending that just because you’re afforded the privilege of associating violence and pain endured by docile, gentle animals, with pastoral, peaceful, and caring descriptions to provide you comfort means it’s comfortable for the victims: it’s NOT. YOU don’t have to physically suffer the consequences of your delusional grammatical validations, the animals DO regardless of your willful ignorance. SL

Source Surge

Right now, all around the world, the animal farming industries are working with politicians to try and get certain terms banned from being able to be used by plant-based companies. With the EU considering a piece of legislation that could make it illegal to use phrases that “imitate or evoke dairy products, even if the composition or true nature of the product or service is indicated or accompanied by an expression such as “style”, “type”, “method”, “as produced in”, “imitation”, “flavour”, “substitute”, “like” or similar.

This could make it illegal to even say ‘does not contain milk’. Yes, that’s right, we’re not even joking. We wish we were.

But this got us thinking about the words the meat, dairy and egg industries use and how they themselves hide behind euphemisms to disguise the reality of their industries. So here’s our round-up of the words the EU and other politicians should be looking to ban, if that is, they do actually care about consumer confusion.

Slaughter or processing?

If we said to you, what word would you use to describe hanging an animal on a kill line and pulling a knife across their throat, what would you say? Well, if you were a farmer you would call that processing.

The animal exploitation industries have a real problem saying that water is wet. In fact, in 2019, at their annual conference, New South Wales farmers voted for the complete exclusion of the word slaughter and for it to be replaced with the word processing. Why? Because in their view the word slaughter is used to create emotions that discredit animal farming industries and undermine trust in animal farming.  

One farmer stated: “The word slaughter is not appropriate for our industry… it’s not mass murder.” Whatever helps them sleep at night.

But this is a common term used by animal farmers, with slaughterhouses often referred to as meat processing plants. Avoiding the word slaughter seeks to detach the consumer from the reality of what happens to animals by instead using words that allow us to psychologically distance ourselves from what we are paying for. After all, would you rather pay for an animal to be processed or slaughtered?

Mass slaughter or depopulation?

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, many slaughterhouses were forced to close due to outbreaks among the workers. One of the most notable was the Smithfields slaughterhouse that supplies around five per cent of all pig flesh in the US. This caused huge problems in the supply chain.

So the next question is, what do you call killing hundreds, even thousands of lives in quick succession because you can’t sell them to have their throats cut? Depopulation.

But in reality, depopulation is just a friendlier way of saying mass extermination on farms, which is exactly what it is. One way in which animals are slaughtered en masse by farmers is called ventilation shutdown, where the air supply is cut off to the barns filled with animals. This in turn causes the heat to increase to intense levels causing the animals to slowly suffocate and roast to death at the same time.

This method of mass killing is even endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, whilst at the same time they call it unacceptable to leave dogs in cars. Why? Because the temperature will increase which will cause the dog to suffer and die.

After this process was exposed by hidden camera footage, the National Pork Producers Council said in an email: “We definitely need to come up with a new name to describe this.” Yet again showing how deliberately these industries attempt to hide the things they do.

Other methods of on-farm mass slaughter include pumping foam throughout the barns blocking the airways of the animals causing them to suffocate to death, or using carbon dioxide, where the farmers turn the barns into large gas chambers or create smaller gas chambers in which the animals are gassed to death.

By using the word ‘livestock’ we are viewing these animals as mere products, commodities who can be traded and profited from. In essence, it seeks to deny the animals their individuality.


Next word. What do you call the act of picking up a piglet by their back legs and slamming them against a wall or the floor to kill them because they’re not growing fast enough or aren’t worth spending money on for veterinary care?

Farmers call this euthanasia. But when we think of animals being euthanised, we think of our companion animals being peacefully ‘put to sleep’ because they are severely ill. Well, farmers will describe killing an animal on their farm as euthanising the animal as if it is a merciful act, but instead of it being done in the animal’s best interest, it is done in the farmer’s financial interest.

The most common methods of killing birds on a farm include blunt force trauma, which involves hitting an animal over the head until they are dead, neck dislocation, carbon dioxide gassing either head only or in gas chambers, or a captive bolt.

For mammals, the most common methods include captive bolts, blunt force trauma, gassing, electrocution or a bullet.

But the issue of euphemisms is even more normalised than this, to the point where some of the most common words used to describe animal exploitation actually contribute to the objectification of animals.

For example, the term livestock.

Sentient individuals or livestock?

By referring to animals as livestock, animal farmers are attempting to create a distinction between the animals they farm and the animals that exist in the world. It essentially ‘otherises’ the animals we exploit and attempts to put them into a different classification, which further perpetuates the idea that it is acceptable to exploit and kill these animals.

For example, if you ask someone, “is it acceptable to kill livestock?”, most people will say yes. But if you ask “is it acceptable to kill animals?”, people’s responses would often be very different, even though the question is the same question. However, morally there is no difference between killing a pig or killing any other animal we don’t classify as livestock.

This is how ‘othering’ works. We view the animals we kill as being different and refer to them differently so as to make what we do to them more palatable and less likely to expose our cognitive dissonance.

By using the word ‘livestock’ we are viewing these animals as mere products, commodities who can be traded and profited from. In essence, it seeks to deny the animals their individuality.

What about the names of animal products themselves, many of which are also named and referred to in a way that disconnects us from the reality of who we are eating? Even though the origins of many of these words can be traced back hundreds of years, referring to animal flesh as meat, pig flesh as pork, cow flesh as beef and baby cow flesh as veal, among others, further detaches us from having to think about the animals whose bodies we are purchasing.

Imagine if supermarkets had flesh aisles, rather then meat aisles. Or if instead of bacon, we bought sliced pig flesh with extra fat layers. By turning animals into objects, classifying them differently and using different words to describe them when they are living and when they are dead, it allows us to avoid the discomfort caused by thinking of them in gas chambers or hung up on the kill line about to have their throats cut.

Whether we realise it or not, the animal agriculture industries have been purposefully trying to trick consumers for years, and their on-going attempts to try and censor plant-based companies further proves how worried they are about the prospect of informed consumers making their own decisions.

In the end, consumers aren’t being misguided by clearly labelled plant-based alternatives, they are being lied to and deceived by industries that are desperate to keep the objective reality of what happens to animals out of sight and out of mind.

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How abusers lie from A to Z
You can fool yourselves
But you don’t fool

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2021 12:10 pm

    How abusers lie from A to Z
    You can fool yourselves
    But you don’t fool

    Liked by 1 person


  1. The Euphemisms of Animal Exploitation. – World Animals Voice

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