‘The Last Pig’ ©2015 ArgoFilms. Used with permission

It has become a cultural cliché for uncommon altruism to be lauded as ‘heroism.’

The teenager who, upon seeing a domestic dispute erupt in a public place, steps forward to challenge an adult male who is threatening a woman with violence. The passerby who spots flames inside a house and breaks in to save its sleeping occupant. The walker who espies a flailing arm in the river along whose banks they are traversing and who jumps in to prevent someone from drowning.

Sometimes even emergency service workers — despite being trained in self-preservation and hazard management and expected to exercise…

“Might And Power”, ©2008 Tamara Kenneally Photography. Used with permission.

Preamble: On 17 October 2019, Australian television saw an exposé which was the result of a two year undercover investigation into the horse-racing industry. It resulted in a painful memory resurfacing which I committed to words.

As a paramedic with a career spanning 37 years I have lost count of the number of times people have said to me, “you must see some terrible things.”

And I have. Many disturbing and tragic images of suffering and death litter the alleyways of my memory. Fortunately, due to support and training, they don’t disrupt my thinking for too long.

But there was…

As a consumer who shops with his skepticism as much as his credit card, my interest is regularly drawn to those recurring messages telling me that some meats are the product of ‘high welfare’ standards, including claims of ‘grass fed’ or ‘pasture reared’ animals. Not far behind them is often another claim, that of ‘humane slaughter.’

How can violence intended to end an animal’s life be defined as humane, or an act of compassion? Not only is this assertion jarringly counter-intuitive, it seems to be intentionally confusing.

These marketing claims are beyond the scrutiny of the average consumer, whose only…

Michael Fuery

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