Nice, France—Over 100 animal rights activists from Collectif ILA ( Indignés pour la Libération Animale) gathered yesterday in Nice, France to march for the abolition of meat. The activists marched, chanting and brandishing graphic posters of animals being slaughtered, to Place Massena, the city’s main square. There, calling on the public to “dare to watch,” they staged a live performance which included actors posing as animals being slaughtered by a sadistic “butcher.”
“Come and watch, if you dare!” blared Joel Cessio, a spokesperson for Collectif ILA, into his megaphone to the crowd gathering around him. “You will be shocked to see how animals are tortured so that you can have a piece of meat! There is no reason to eat them! You can be healthy by adopting a vegan diet! We are not carnivores! No carnivore has ever died from blocked arteries!” he said.
Hundreds of people crowded around to watch the street theater, which included a macabre scene of a dinner table, formally set with a chandelier, at which three elegant young women pretended to feast on real pig intestines. The meat was dripping in blood, which splattered all over the table cloth. At one point, the actor playing the butcher came to the table and held up the pig parts for the crowd—real blood of pigs mixing with the fake blood on his costume.
The “butcher” dragged actors wearing animal face masks down to the ground and made a show of slicing their throats as they writhed on the pavement, shaking and screaming as animals do in slaughterhouses.
Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. More than 3000 animals die every second in slaughterhouses around the world. These figures do not include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tons.
The Nice March to Abolish Meat was coordinated with other “close all slaughterhouses” events yesterday in Paris and Lyons. The vegan movement is gaining ground in France and animal rights issues are a hot topic in the local press. Recently, L214, a leading French animal rights organization conducted an undercover investigation in a slaughterhouse in Alès, a small town in Provence. The footage from the investigation, showing animals being brutalized by empathy-challenged employees of the slaughterhouse, was so gory and violent, it became front page news and shocked the nation. Local activists are quick to point out that there was nothing out of the ordinary in the footage and that revolting as it is, this is what goes on all day, every day, in slaughterhouses for the food industry.
The Alès slaughterhouse investigation has galvanized activists to intensify vegan protests and convinced a growing number of people to give up eating meat in a country deeply attached to its culinary traditions which are dependent on the torture and killing of animals in factory farms. Vegan restaurants are popping up in every major city. Paris now has a vegan supermarket. On-line suppliers of hard-to-find vegan products are delivering goods to the growing number of vegans living in rural areas.
Animal rights advocates are encouraged by the latest figures pointing to a trend in decreasing consumption of meat in France. Between 1960 and 1980, meat consumption climbed 1.5 percent per year, reaching a peak of 207 lbs per person, per year. Since then, the trend has reversed. In 2014, French consumers ate 189 lbs of meat per person, per year. Meat consumption has decreased by three percent in ten years.
In a recent French study, 35 percent of respondents claim they are very concerned about the well-being of food animals and 26 percent claim to be concerned with food “scandals” like the investigation of the Ales slaughterhouse.
“Don’t take away our McDonalds,” giggled a teenage girl, watching the performance art with her three friends . “It’s too good!” “I’m fine with cutting down my meat eating but I have to have cheese, butter and yoghurt,” said a man in the crowd. “But it is horrible the way they are treated and I understand why these people are here,” he said.
A older woman in a red coat watched the scene of a screaming woman dressed as a calf being stabbed. She shook her head sadly. “I’m 79 years old,” she told this reporter, “and I don’t eat meat anymore. Since my husband died years ago, all I eat is fruits and vegetables and I am in good health! It’s horrible to know what goes on.”
French vegans are making sure that the public knows what goes on behind slaughterhouse walls.