Working towards a more compassionate world through education and advocacy

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New York Times article suggests opening up the Slaughterhouses...

Published: April 8, 2013

"IN 1999, as a writer for The American Prospect, I went into a slaughterhouse undercover, with the help of some rebellious employees. The floor was slick with the residue of blood and suet, and the air smelled like iron. A part of my brain spent the whole time trying to remember which of Dante’s circles this scene most resembled.

Today, under legislation being pushed by business interests, that bit of journalistic adventure could earn me a criminal conviction and land me on a registry of “animal and ecological terrorists.” So-called ag-gag laws, proposed or enacted in about a dozen states, make, or would make, criminals of animal-rights activists who take covert pictures and videos of conditions on industrial farms and slaughterhouses. Some would even classify the activists as terrorists.

The agriculture industry says the images are unfair. They seem to show cruelty and brutality, but the eye can be deceiving. The most humane way of slaughtering an animal, or dealing with a sick one, may look pretty horrible. But so does open-heart surgery. The problem with making moral arguments by appealing to revulsion is that some beneficial and indispensable acts can also be revolting. With gruesome shots of cadavers, a skilled amateur could make a strong emotional case against using them to teach anatomy in medical school."


To read the article - click here

Why Are These People Crying?

Written by Michelle Kretzer
12 March 2013

For many people, it's the first time they are staring into the faces of the animals they call "steak," "ham," or "nugget."


There in front of them is the irrefutable evidence that their "entrée" was a cow who coughed and choked as the blood spilling from her slit throat ran down her face and covered the floor below, a pig who screamed and cried as he was burned to death in scalding-hot water, a chicken whose desperate squawks went unheeded as her broken legs were slammed into shackles and she stared past the long line of her comrades to the whirring blades that would end her life.


A photographer caught some of the people's reactions, and it seems Paul was right.


To read the article - click here

DA Provincial Leader in the Free State, Mr Roy Jankielsohn, calls for Constitutional recognition of Animal Sentience


Recognition of Animal Sentience - the next step for our constitution.


Honourable Deputy-Speaker, yesterday South Africa celebrated Human Rights Day. Our country has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world that is a product of an inclusive negotiation process by various groups of people that make up our rainbow nation. The Bill of Rights is entrenched in this constitution and it is everyone’s responsibility to protect and respect the rights and freedoms of every other South african. If we do this, we will never have to be concerned about our own rights or freedoms being violated.


Our constitution is, however, silent on one key issue that makes us responsible human beings. That is about the respect that we should give the silent majority of beings in our country, namely our non-human neighbours who share this planet with us. In this respect Mahatma Gandhi said the following: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.


Our early forefathers used to do rituals of thanks to the animals who sacrificed their lives so that their flesh could be eaten by humans. They never took more than what they required and they recognised that an individual animal has an intrinsic value and should be respected and protected. This tradition has conveniently been lost in our consumerist society. As we celebrated human rights day, I would like to ask how many of us gave a moment’s thought about the origin of the meat that we may have cooked, or put on the braai on this day.


Did you for a moment think about whether the animal that sacrificed its life for your enjoyment was given a good quality of life and a humane death?

Animal sentience, in other words the ability to experience pain and recognition of an emotional dimension, is mostly ignored by our modern, capitalist, and consumerist society.


South Africa has set the moral example in so many aspects. It is now time to set another moral example by acknowledging animal sentience in our constitution, and recognising the rights and freedoms of animals that are directly under human stewardship. Such basic rights and freedoms should at least, besides a broad recognition of sentience, include the freedom from fear and distress and a right to decent food, water, shelter, and a safe and clean environment that allows them movement to exercise their limbs in a habitat that is conducive to their species.


Honourable Deputy-Speaker, the slavery of human beings was entrenched for centuries in most societies less than a hundred and fifty years ago. It is still taking place in some parts of the world. We regard the practice of slavery as abhorrent, yet the slavery of our fellow non-human animals remains entrenched in our society today.


Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and emotions of others. Most of us have empathy, and only a heartless person will not have empathy for an animal in pain or distress.

The only thing that stands in our way of becoming a morally progressive and an even greater nation is our willingness to act on our empathy. Such action requires a concerted effort, but true moral greatness comes with effort, not apathy.

Crate-free pig farmers takes top honours at DSTV's Eat Out Awards

Written by Michelle Kretzer
12 March 2013

Given the chance, a pregnant pig spends many hours meticulously making a nest for her piglets as seen in this aerial view of the nest built by 'Brenda', tucked away in a quiet corner of Enaleni Farm. Her nine piglets are all thriving.

Dave Brennan and Richard Haigh at DSTV's EatOut Food Festival

KZN crate-free, free range, indigenous pig farmers Richard Haigh and Dave Brennan took top honours on Friday night at DSTV’s EatOut Awards for 2013.


Although they won their award in the Heritage category for their amazing Zebra Beans, their free range pork production system was also highlighted in the produce section.

The two-day food festival took place at the old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town on 15 and 16 March.


It is not the first time Richard and Dave have won recognition for their agro-ecological methods of producing food. In 2011 they were awarded the Eat In Heritage Award for their  Zulu sheep production system, and the World Watch Institute and Slow Food International have also previously given them top ratings.


Asked for comment by Animal Voice editor, Louise van der Merwe, Richard said:

"Apart from our Zebra beans, we also entered our crate-free, free range, indigenous pork because  we have been working towards establishing a viable agro-ecological farming system that is an alternative to farm factories and industrialised farming. Our Kolbroek pigs have a good daily quality of life unlike the 60 000 unlucky sows around South Africa trapped in metal-crates, on concrete, right now, even as we speak.


"We are proud to say that our pigs live wonderful, natural lives and consequently, produce healthy, humane food."


Read more about Richard and Dave’s Enaleni farm (Enaleni means place of agricultural abundance in Zulu), home to Nguni cattle, Zulu sheep, indigenous Kolbroek pigs, old fashioned poultry and many more...


To visit Enaleni Farm's website, click here.


If you like what you see on their website please take the time to drop them a line by emailing:


Allan Savory: How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change

"Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,"

begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk.


And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world's grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos.


Savory has devoted his life to stopping it.


He now believes - and his work so far shows - that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

South African businessman Tony Gerrans

submitted the following Letter to the Editor of local newspapers.

Dear Sir.

The recent controversy over meat-product labeling refers.

It is instructive that the current reporting and public outrage both focus almost solely on the potential infringement of consumer rights in terms of accurate product description. There is, of course, a much larger issue at play, which receives little or no coverage in mainstream media.

Most consumers of purchased meat products generally justify the ongoing and increasing consumption of animal proteins on the twin pillars of perceived dietary necessity and the justification that there is little or no unnatural suffering in the production of these products. The meat industry carefully protects both these assumptions, not the least through advertising and product labeling, both of which typically misrepresent the circumstances under which this food is produced. Consumer belief that the animals we eat do not suffer unduly is based largely on the assumption that meat producers have both full control over the process of raising and slaughtering livestock from start to finish, and can defend the ethics of how the animals are treated in the optimised processes of modern industrialised agriculture. Of course, for the most part, neither of these conditions are met consistently. Those familiar with what is generally called factory-farming know that the actual conditions endured by the animals are totally removed from the idyllic farm scenes with happy animals often depicted on final packaging. Some 70 billion animals die each year to provide meat for humans - many after suffering terribly for a great deal of their short, unnatural lives.

Up until now, meat consumers not wishing to engage with this ugly truth, have simply been able to turn away. You had to go look for the truth of how and why this food was produced- online, behind the fences of factory farms, in literature, and increasingly in film. The current scandal changes all that. It seems that the meat industry will now have to admit either that there have been deliberate ethical transgressions in supplying incorrectly labelled products, or concede that there are control issues in managing and auditing the meat product food-chain. If the ethics of labeling are suspect, what then of the greater issues of process control, animal welfare, and health and safety of the products themselves?

This current expose thus poses a major dilemma not just for suppliers, but also for any consumer who thinks critically about these issues. Meat consumers and distributors could use this opportunity to demand meaningful reform in animal welfare standards, which in South Africa fall well short of international best practice. It would be a major step forward if consumers start to demand improvement in more than just product labeling. The promulgation of meaningful welfare standard for farmed animals (such as ensuring all sentient animals enjoy the five basic freedoms, phasing out intensive confinement and the associated use of hormones and antibiotics, banning excessive live transport and ensuring proper independent auditing and oversight of farms), will go much further in limiting abuse and ensuring food safety than a narrow focus on product labeling. There are many moderate and informative organisations working toward these goals, with a great deal of information freely available online or in published literature. It is my hope that consumers deceived by incorrectly labelled products take up this broader issue, demand accountability from those responsible, and insist on ethically defensible standards from all participants in the food-chain.

After all, as Mahatma Gandhi said, " The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated." How sadly we have been found wanting.  

Tony Gerrans
Cape Town

Learner Power!

A class of Grade 7 learners at Golden Grove Primary School in Rondebosch has achieved a step forward for laying hens!

In October last year, as part of a Consumer Awareness programme offered by Compassion in World Farming (South Africa), the learners visited Dundarach Poultry Farm in Noorder Paarl which supplies both free range and battery eggs to Pick n Pay supermarkets nation-wide.


After visiting both the free range hens as well as the hens in battery cages, the learners were asked to make up their own minds as to which eggs they would like to eat.


They decided to write to Pick n Pay’s Director of Transformation, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman requesting that PnP’s trays of eggs be made available in free range eggs too.

Farmer James Stuart shows Grade 7 learners his free range hens all of whom have access to pasture.

Examples of the letters written to Mrs Ackerman-Berman include:


  • “I was completely horrified at the state of battery chickens. My family and I have now decided to consume only free range eggs. As a South African citizen, I have the right to free range eggs in trays.”

  • “I would like to place a complaint. It is not fair to sell more battery eggs than free range eggs because how would you guys like to be in a battery chicken’s place? It wouldn’t be nice, right? It would be unpleasant, right?”

  • “I find the need to write this letter to inform you what we customers of Pick n Pay want. My parents want to buy the eggs in trays but they must be free range.”


Suzanne Ackerman-Berman wrote back to the learners promising to investigate the issue of free range eggs being made available in trays.

Battery hens are unable to exercise even one of their natural behaviours. Their individual space allowance – for life – is less than an A4 sheet of paper.

NOW, free range eggs in trays of 18 are available in Pick n Pay supermarkets!

Compassion wishes to express its appreciation to Golden Grove’s Principal, Mr Tony Austen for enabling the learners to take part in our Consumer Awareness programme, and to Farmer James Stuart at Dundarach Poultry Farm for the hospitality he extended to the learners.

Pick n Pay’s trays of 18 free range eggs cost R35.99 (R1.99 an egg)

Pick n Pay’s trays of 18 battery eggs cost R24.99 (R1.39 an egg)

Cost difference between PnP’s free range and a battery eggs in trays: 60 cents


60 cents buys a laying hen her freedom and the ability to dust-bathe, sunbathe, run, peck and forage, and to lay her eggs in a nest.

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