The Psychological Impact of Animal Slaughter on Slaughterhouse Workers and the Spillover Effects in their Communities
Ryan Mahabir, Wake Forest University School of Law JD ’23
**This article was shortened to meet publication guidelines. The full version of this text can be downloaded at the bottom of the article.
It’s a hot afternoon. The grill is fired up, ready to cook some hotdogs and hamburgers. As you enjoy the food, have you thought about the cows, pigs, and other animals who had their lives cut short to produce the very meal you are eating? Have you considered the slaughterhouse worker who had the arduous task of ending the animal’s life so that it could be processed into ground beef for the burger? That same slaughterhouse worker is tasked with killing animals eight hours a day so that you can enjoy a cookout. Every hour, “1,000,000 chickens, 14,000 pigs, and 4,000 cows are slaughtered for human consumption in the United States.” These workers perform a job that, by its very nature, puts them at risk of psychological disorders.
This commentary identifies the occupational hazards of slaughterhouse work, exploring how they create a uniquely stressful, dangerous, and violent environment. Specifically, this commentary analyzes how the routinized killing of animals affects slaughterhouse workers’ physical and mental state and the spillover public health effects on their families and their community, comparing incidences of serious psychological distress and alcohol abuse between slaughterhouse workers and non-slaughterhouse workers and domestic violence and violent and sexual crime in communities around slaughterhouses and in communities elsewhere. It concludes by proposing educational initiatives and reallocating government subsidies to incentivize a vegan lifestyle.Continue reading “The Human Cost of Animal Slaughter”