On 18th January 2023, several dozens of animal rights activists of the group Direct Action Everywhere staged a protest in front of Costco in San Francisco, California, projecting a secretly-recorded video of pigs being killed in gas chambers. The group said the footage, projected at Costco Wholesale store on 10th Street in the city’s South of Market neighbourhood, was taken at Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon that belongs to Costco supplier Smithfield Foods and shows pigs thrashing while dying an agonising death from asphyxiation with carbon dioxide gas. While the footage was shown, audio was played of the pigs screaming through speakers across the street.

Almira Tanner, an activist from Direct Action Everywhere, said: “I don’t think it’s humane. Veterinarians don’t think it’s humane. Ultimately at the end of the day, these are individuals who want to live. So, whether we’re killing them in gas chambers or with a bolt gun to the head, there is no humane way to kill animals who do not want to die.” 

A group of ten veterinarians have signed a letter saying the practice of gassing pigs may violate California Humane slaughter laws. Smithfield Foods said that it “strictly follows approved laws, regulations and best practices for humane animal stunning, prior to harvest.”  The fact that they use the term “harvest” (which means the process of gathering crops) as a euphemism for killing animals for food tells you volumes about the mindset of the animal agriculture industry. If they think mass killing is “harvesting”, we probably should interpret that when they say “humane” they may mean “causing a great deal of suffering”, as they change the common language to deceive the general public.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.