I read yesterday that to be an animal activist is to go around all the time with a broken heart, and occasionally to be brought to your knees at what you witness. My friend Rukhmini Sekar puts it this way:

‘I break and sometimes I mend. I break and don’t mend at all. I crash to the ground in smithereens and no one can pick the pieces up. It’s easy to be in a bubble and inure yourself, but if you feel, plus if you are an animal activist, the sorrow comes on in a never-ending caravan of grief. To twist Descartes’ stupid, reductionist phrase, I would say ‘You are, therefore I am.‘

Personally I believe that the same animating principle in people is also in animals; if we have souls, then so do they. When I see an animal suffering I suffer too. Call me Bessie or Henny Penny and I will answer you, because I believe that in spirit, we are all One.

Many animal activists suffer because we are naturally compassionate, but also because we keenly feel that the way innocent, helpless animals are treated is monstrously wrong and unjust, and we have a burning desire to address this injustice. As far as bearing witness to animals going to slaughter is concerned, it can definitely be brutal on our hearts. 

Today Rob and I saw sheep arriving at one sheep and bobby calf slaughterhouse, and pigs and cows at another. We also saw a small truck containing cattle arrive under cover of darkness at a new, much smaller plant that has only been operational a few months. 

Please bear witness to the gentle souls in the photos. It’s now 8:30pm, and the sheep may already be dead. The cows and pigs will have to wait until tomorrow. The pigs are probably still screaming.

When I See an Animal Suffering, I Suffer Too
Sandra Kyle is a retired polytechnic lecturer and part time music teacher living in Whanganui, New Zealand. She has been a vegetarian for nearly fifty years, and a vegan for ten. Sandra has been active for animals since the 1990s, and has written or co-written many articles and opinion editorials on animal rights. In 2018 she self-published a book, ‘Glass Walls’, calling for the closure of all slaughterhouses in New Zealand by 2025. Sandra produced and presented an award winning animal rights radio show, ‘Safe and Sound’ for four and a half years, and has been interviewed on mainstream media, who have dubbed her ‘The Singing Vegan’, as she sings to the animals waiting in pens at the slaughterhouse. Sandra is currently one of two Country Liaisons for The Save Movement in New Zealand, and in 2019 a short film — ‘2025’ — was made about her solitary slaughterhouse vigils. Sandra was the recipient of The Philip Wollen Animal Welfare Award in 2018, and has her own website, endanimalslaughter.org. In 2021 she was nominated for the ‘Assisi Award’, named after the Patron Saint of Animals, St Francis of Assisi.