Behind-the-scenes look inside one of the world's
biggest slaughterhouses by Alastair Philip Wiper

| 78 comments
 

Photo essay: British photographer Alastair Philip Wiper toured the interior of one of the largest slaughterhouses in the world to create this series of images documenting how pigs are turned into pork, sausages and bacon (+ slideshow).

Danish Crown is the world's largest exporter of pork, killing approximately 100,000 pigs a week to cater to the growing global demand for meat. Alastair Philip Wiper visited the company's abattoir in Horsens to capture a behind-the-scenes look at the entire process, starting at the pens where the pigs arrive and moving through the spaces where the animals are slaughtered, butchered and packaged for sale.

Wiper says he "finds it difficult to tolerate those who love eating meat, but cannot bear to think about, or look at, the slaughter and death of that animal", so each image in the Danish Crown Slaughterhouse is intended to reveal the entire butchering process, made visible by the transparency and openness of the spaces.


I am not a squeamish person. I love food, I love meat, and I particularly love pork. In an ideal world, we would all get our meat from the guy in our village whose family has lovingly cared for their animals over generations, given the animals the best possible life, fed them only the best food, read them a bed-time story every night and given them kilometres of space to roam free in before being humanely and ceremoniously slaughtered by the patriarch of the family. Unfortunately most of us don't live in that world, and while there is a strong case for a serious discussion about whether or not we really need to eat, or should be eating, as much meat as we do, that is a discussion for another day.

Danish Crown Slaughterhouse photography by Alastair Philip Wiper

The reality is that the society we live in craves meat, on a massive scale. Where there is a demand there will be a supply, and finding out how that supply is met is something that all meat-eaters should be interested in. As a food lover, I am firmly of the belief that people should think about, understand and respect their food (that includes vegetables!) and part of that respect is rooted in where the meat on your plate comes from and how it died. I find it difficult to tolerate those who love eating meat, but cannot bear to think about, or look at, the slaughter and death of that animal. It seems disrespectful towards the animal, and if I wanted to get really eggy about it, I'm not sure if such people should be allowed to eat meat at all. So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to my visit to the Danish Crown slaughterhouse in Horsens, touted as "the most modern slaughterhouse in the world".

Danish Crown is the world's largest exporter of pork, supplying pork to customers all over the world; 90 percent of the pork slaughtered in Denmark is exported, with the UK being the biggest market. Completed in 2004, the slaughterhouse at Horsens kills approximately 100,000 pigs per week, making it one of the largest in the world. There are 1,420 people employed there, and the slaughterhouse receives around 150 visitors per day.

Danish Crown Slaughterhouse photography by Alastair Philip Wiper

The slaughterhouse has been designed with openness in mind; a viewing gallery follows every step of the production, from the pigs arriving, to the slaughter itself, to the butchering and packaging. I was genuinely surprised at the level of openness at the plant; Danish Crown wants to invite people in and say "look, this is how we do it".

The first part of the process is called the "black" slaughter line, and is in stark contrast with the minimalist, office-like corridors that surround the slaughtering area. We started off in the space where the pigs arrive - holding pens where up to 3,800 pigs (3 and a half hours worth of slaughtering) will sit for 1-2 hours before they are slaughtered. "Listen to that" says my guide, Agnete Poulsen. "Listen to what?" I think. "There are thousands of pigs in here, and you can hardly hear a sound. Have you ever heard the noise that ten pigs can make? It's incredible. These are very calm pigs, and that’s the way we want them to be. This room has been designed to calm the pigs down before they go into the slaughterhouse. If the pigs are stressed when they are killed, the quality of the meat will not be so good."

Danish Crown Slaughterhouse photography by Alastair Philip Wiper

From there, the pigs are gently herded in small groups by a series of moving walls into a gas chamber, where they are rendered unconscious by C02 gas. A minute later, they tumble out of the chamber on to a conveyor belt from where they are strung up by their legs before being stuck in the carotid artery and bleeding to death.

The pigs continue on their journey along a long line, strung up by their legs. They disappear into a cabinet, where an automatic saw chops their body in half. Then a series of workers remove different organs from each side of the body - one lucky guy's job is to remove the brain, the next one the heart, and so on. Needless to say, there is a lot of blood. As I mentioned earlier, I believe it is important to understand how an animal is butchered, and even try it yourself; but, I think to myself, I couldn't do this for a living. "Do you psychologically profile the guys who do these jobs? How do you know they won't crack up after a couple of weeks?" I ask Agnete. "Not at all" she replies. "They get used to it very quickly. You would too. We don’t force people to do this, they are happy to do it. It’s an honest job."

Danish Crown Slaughterhouse photography by Alastair Philip Wiper

All of the organs collected in this process move on to different sections of the plant where they will be processed further – there is always a part of the world where something we don’t eat here is a delicacy. From the "black" slaughter line, the pigs are hung for 16 hours in a refrigerated room, before moving on to the next line for general butchering by hand, then packaging, before being loaded on to trucks and whizzed off to far-flung places. At each step of the process, different parts of the pig are stamped, scanned and recorded, so that each piece of meat in the supermarket can be traced right back to the farm that it came from and the time it was slaughtered.

The slaughterhouse at Horsens was truly one of the most fascinating places I have visited on my travels. It is an experience that will leave a mark on my daily life, and help me to understand, just a little, about another important aspect of my food. As you can probably tell, this is not an in-depth exposé of an industry, and my experience is not enough to knowledgeably critique the process of delivering Danish Crown bacon to your breakfast table; nor can I account for the processes of Danish Crown outside what I saw in Horsens. But I was pleasantly surprised by the openness of the plant about its operations and methods, and it is clear that when they designed the slaughterhouse they were thinking ahead in terms of what consumers will want to see from food producers: more transparency.

Danish Crown Slaughterhouse photography by Alastair Philip Wiper

And while I can't comment on the conditions of the lives of the pigs before they get to the slaughterhouse (the vast majority of which come from Denmark), I can only make an educated guess that, through my own experience as a resident of Denmark, the laws that govern the treatment of pigs would be about as strict or stricter as they would be anywhere else in the world. Anyone with any knowledge on that would be welcome to chip in. I am happy to admit that I finished my tour with a sausage in the canteen.

  • Lior

    The real reality is not that our society is carving meat, but we’re educated to learn that animals are food which they are not. We are taught to love dogs and cats but hate cows, chickens, pigs etc. All the society eats is dead animals that were produced and killed for one reason only and it is to make money.

    The meat industry killing us, killing the animals and killing our planet. There is no ‘humane killing’. That phrase is a marketing phrase. If there is a humane killing, is it also correct to say that there is a humane rape? Humane assault? Do you really think that the animals had their belly rubbed before they got slaughtered? A slaughterhouse is a house of slaughter! Shame on you.

    • James

      Surely this article raises consumer awareness to the processes behind the meat they purchase. An informed consumer can make informed decisions about what they eat. This kind of article and exploration is necessary and important. Simply decrying the issue will never change a thing.

      • lior

        It doesn’t raise awareness because awareness can’t be created by beautiful pictures that do not show the truth behind this industry. The reality is that the animals are all tortured, scared, suffer and sick during their lives and that’s what we eat. The meat, dairy eggs etc give us nothing but heart disease and cancer.

        I read that every two seconds there is a child dying of starvation in the world, but how come a cow or a pig will never misses a meal.

        75% of the agricultural land is used to feed the animals for the meat industry. Each person wastes five million litres of water just to water the animal and their crops. We are killing 150 billion animals every single year just for the food industry, which does not include furniture, shoes etc.

        It is killing us, killing the animals and
        killing the planet and therefore this article doesn’t raise any debate if the author gave his own conclusion in the end.

        How can anybody find this acceptable?

        • project

          Wow look at all your comments. Calm down a bit please. Everybody is entitled to an opinion, but you seem like you would start a war over yours.

        • Max

          Heart disease and cancer is caused by low fat, high carb diets, lifetimes spent in office chairs, no exercise, smoking, drinking sodas and beer and then stressing out over not feeling or looking as good as you think you are automatically supposed to.

          What´s needed is effectiveness, vertical farms and more productive crops, and we need to realise that we can eat more than the loins, flank and rump of animals. The organs, bone marrow, cartilage, ears, snouts, hearts, livers, kidneys, skin and fat layers, all of this is totally eatable but people find it yucky, which is a very negative and unappreciative way to approach the things we could eat.

          Kids die and starve not because we feed pigs and cows properly, but because of their entire political, religious and socioeconomic situation around them is messed up. So many factors go into this, you´re basically insulting them by saying what you are saying.

          • LiorLior

            Cancer can be caused by many reasons as you stated. Animal product is one of them. Animal products are acidic to our body and cancer thrives on acidity. Also, my wife is working in cancer research and the first thing they advise to cancer patients is to go onto vegan diet. I didn’t say that cancer was caused only by animal food and l never will. There is pollution, stress and bad diet as you mentioned.

            I used to read the health men’s magazine for a long period of time. One of the issues, I think it was in 2012, stated the link between meat and cancer. The reason I stopped reading this magazine is because the continued advertising for meat products. The fact is that we are addicted to meat and we will do anything to keep using it. Same as alcoholic, cigarette smoker or whatever will find any reason to keep on doing what he is doing. You know how I know? Because I was the same! I am not here to insult anyone and I am not your enemy but can you agree with me that killing animals on an industrial scale is just killing us and our planet?

        • 1bar1

          Each person? Five million litres? Overstated much?

    • Tony

      The amount of meat we consume has risen to such a horrendous amount that this is why it got very
      counterproductive for our planet. I don’t eat meat but I don’t think we as humans have to deny it as “food” yet. Although I agree, to me it’s just unnatural to view an animal as a choice of meal.

      The problem with meat is it got so cheap that everyone wants to consume it daily at best – even twice a day although it’s unhealthy. And if our society keeps viewing and valuing it as a status symbol of power, dominance and wealth change sadly won’t occur no matter if the awareness of the process has increased.

      The first thing we could do is at least eat less meat and seeing that our yearly consumption of meat has more than doubled should give us enough food for thought.

      • lior

        I agree with what you say and also it should be a process. It took the Americans 400 years to understand that black people were not slaves, up to 50 years ago it took the men to understand that women were not made for men, so I am sure it will take some time.

        There is one thing I disagree with. Humans are not meat eaters. We don’t have claws or teeth to be hunters. Our jaws moves side to side like veggie eaters. Predators stomachs are short in length to get rid of the bacteria quickly. Our one is long and never designed to process the meat. When we see a puppy we want to cuddle it and not chase it down the road and eat it. We were taught to hate without question. We made mistakes before but it’s time to evolve. The main question is if we need to kill in order to live? If no, is that okay to kill for pleasure?

        • Pascual

          Lior you’re science is twisted to make your fantasy world reality in your delusional brain. Thanks to the miracles of evolution, we humans can survive just fine on a meat-free diet. As far back as 2003 scientists had established our ancestors were eating meat up to 2.5 million years ago.

          So that juicy slab of barbecue you hate so much isn’t some icon of modern decadence, it’s part of our traditional diet and there are plenty of other clues too. First, our bodies lack most of the equipment you’d associate with herbivores. For instance, we don’t have four stomachs, any ability to break down cellulose, or the sort of complex intestinal tracts most leaf-eaters possess. Second, our teeth are obviously designed to handle both meat and non-meat diets. Get your scientific facts right please.

          • lior

            Well, as cave men we also used to murder and rape. So according to your theory, it is perfectly fine to continue with that as well? For the rest of your post it is so back dated, doesn’t even deserve an answer. Google it.

          • Pascual

            With narrow-minded people like you who simply just want to impose their views on the rest of society, you could never win. No matter the facts.

            You will always find a way or that one study that proves your point regardless of how far from the truth it real is. So it makes you feel like a better person because you don’t eat meat, good for you.

            But that doesn’t mean that your way is the right way and that the rest of society should have to suffer for you to feel moral within your own skin.

          • Lior

            Well, everywhere you see adverts for meat and cheese, in TV commercials, billboards and I’m the one try to impose my views? You eat arm and legs of dead animals and I’m the crazy one?

          • llior

            By the way, I respect the fact you call me narrow minded. It is fine, really. We know that killing is wrong, right? I am against killing and harming others so why I am the narrow minded one?

          • JuanGalicia

            I just don’t see how you can equate consumption of animal products with murder and rape. Unless you want to get too black and white but the world just doesn’t work that way.

    • Xnt

      Different people, different opinions. I consider keeping pets the same as slaughtering animals. All cruelty to me. Let people who want to eat meat do it.

      • lior

        It is not a matter of opinion. The animals were not made for us. We believed that the black man was made for the white men. It took the Americans 400 years to understand that they are not. 100 years ago women didn’t have the right to vote because men were considered superior. It was a crime to be gay. 50 years ago husbands were allowed to hit their women in the house (I am talking about UK).

        Is it not time we evolved in regards to animals as well? Is it not time that we should ask the real questions? Why do we do it if we don’t have too? The animals suffer and feel exactly like us, who taught us to ignore it? The meat industry is the most damaging environmental issue we have to tackle and it seems we waste our energy on much less relevant subjects. It is your right, of course. There is only one question, when we were kids, whenever we saw someone hit an animal we screamed and cried. What happened? What has changed? Why don’t we care now? It is because someone taught us differently in-order to make a buck!

        • Concerned Citizen

          Too bad your opinion cannot be based on fact. From the earliest forms of humanity, we have eaten meat regardless of the lack of claws. We have brains that enable us to overcome little details.

          How do you know that animals feel like we do? As far as I know, animals cannot talk. You are merely personifying animals.

          • lior

            Does the fact that they can’t talk to us make them feel less? And the answer to your question, animals have the same complex nerve system as us so they feel the same.

    • Trent

      So animals who kill pray in very in humane ways and often just for the sake of killing should also be “socially engineered” to not eat what they were meant to eat? Isn’t nature in perfect balance?

    • H-J

      If people wouldn’t eat pigs, there wouldn’t be any. Is that what you want, a world without pigs?

      • lior

        We don’t eat dogs, cats, bears, kangaroos, lizards, snakes, crocodiles. They seem to live, no?

        • Concerned Citizen

          Limited horizons, there. Someone eats everyone of those animals. Kangaroo, lizards, snakes, and crocodiles are sold as food in the USA. Asians eat dogs and cats. Bears, I don’t know about.

          • liorliolior

            My point was that there are many wild animals that are doing just fine without us killing them. Pigs don’t live only because we bread to eat them. The limited, or rather blocked horizon is that you are trying to justify the reason to kill.

          • 1bar1

            Yes bears are edible, and not bad if prepared right.

        • 1bar1

          lior, next time you’re in Louisiana you should try some of their delicious alligator etoufee.

        • Pipo

          False Lior, where I’m from Havana, Cuba, meat is strictly rationed and people do eat cats. By the way the land was over cropped as a result of the government basically controlling the amount of meat the people could consume and what ended up happening was that their wasn’t enough land to sustain the demand thus people starved.

        • Antonio

          Actually, apart from cats and bears many people eat those animals. Not on a daily basis I hope!

    • Trip

      But you support abortions I would imagine. That is perfectly humane.

    • Yuri

      But you’re pro life I’m sure. Thats perfectly humane.

    • trujillo

      Lior you are a genius. If I may expand on your brilliant rational on this matter.

      I think we should also address the unfair and brutal slaughtering of roaches as they are left often left in severe pain decapitated and fighting for their lives in dark humid garbage bags.

    • 1bar1

      Yes we eat dead animals. Perhaps it would be better if we ate live animals?

  • Issy

    I used to be a meat trader before working in design. I have been to countless slaughterhouses around the world. These pictures are very representative of most of the ones I have been in. I think it is great that someone finally shows this. Like the photographer, I cannot stand people who want to eat meat but don’t want to know where it comes from, or ‘vegetarians’ who eat chicken or fish / prawns (chicken and fish are not vegetables!).

    Meat does not grow in a styrofoam pack at the supermarket, and many people work very hard to make it possible for you to eat your steak, fish, or whatever other animal protein. Acknowledging this is a way to be grateful to the animal for the gift of the meat we are about to eat, and would perhaps reduce waste.

  • lior

    Which animals kill just for the sake of killing? And is it justification for us to kill 150 billion a year?

    • Concerned Citizen

      Lions, tigers, cats, to name a few. Haven’t you seen a cat torture a mouse to death, and then just leave it there? A little natural science goes a long way.

    • tTrent

      Lions kill their offspring in order to force the lioness to go back into heat and therefore fulfil their sexual desires.

      Dogs kill cats for the fun of it. I can keep going on and on.

      Look it up, its a fact of nature.

      • lior

        I know that, but it is not to fulfil their sexual desire but to promise their next generation.

        Saying that, do other cats also make leather boots and jackets? How about fur coats? or leather car seats? How about genetically modified sheep to produce more wool? How about milking cows day and night and taking their babies away so you can have a pizza and ice cream?

        What about crocodile and snake-leather bags? Do the cats and lions also do that for pleasure? That what I meant.

  • lior

    “To eat your steak”? Is that what you said? Is it my steak or is it a dead animal that wanted to live?

  • Yader

    Jane Goodall, an amazing scientist, observed chimps hunting and eating other animals in the wild. It’s been shown that certain chimp communities eat as much as one ton of meat annually. In other words, they’re less indulging occasional cravings than they are taking part in the chimpanzee equivalent of Man V. Food.

    Not only that, but they apparently use the slaughtered meat to gain a reproductive and social political advantage over one another. So our evolutionary cousins love a good steak so much they’ll literally whore themselves out to get it. This is a fact. It happens in the natural world so why do we conveniently choose to ignore it when part of having an open mind means to evaluate and differentiate fact from fiction in both both sides of the argument?

    • lior

      I am aware about this and also saw it on TV. They also eat ants etc. However, I don’t understand the point. Humans are not meat eaters and we are not monkeys. Monkeys are not humans. We have the choice to better ourselves within a society. An average person is eating more than 100 animals a year.

      The animals don’t have to be eaten rather than pleasure. They found out that male dolphins rape female dolphins so is that a legitimate reason for us to rape? Why are you choosing as an example the negative and brutal. Why didn’t you choose the compassionate example? Yader, do you have to kill in order to live rather than pleasure?

      • Yader

        Lior I think it’s time I step away from my keyboard and stop typing. Your interpretation of my comment is utterly ridiculous. How in the world could you even make a correlation between my comment connecting monkeys (our ancestors) and legitimising rape within our society?

        Must admit that’s a pretty sick train of thought you got going on there bud, keep eating what you’re eating.

        • lior

          Yader, the example was to show you that we can compare ourselves to animals where we want too. If monkeys eat meat fine, but they also live on top of the trees. We don’t, we have the choice. I understand it is difficult to understand. Trust me mate, a few years back I was exactly like you. I had leather jackets, shoes and the whole thing. BUT, it doesn’t mean we should not question our behaviour.

          Look how we progress for slavery to civil rights, to woman rights, human rights, gay rights etc. Animal rights do not mean for their right to vote but just for us to leave them alone and let them live peacefully. We were taught that they were made for us but they weren’t. They were made for themselves with the intelligence they need to survive. It is not for us to say who should live and who should die. With regards to food, I am vegan as you might guess, there are endless websites and books of what and how to cook. Even if you’re not vegan you should definitely try. All the very best.

    • keith

      The key issue is population increase and ‘western’ values about food production. How to feed everyone? Too much emphasis perhaps given to meat production, as has been pointed out – most crops grown to feed animals for slaughter.

      A genuine debate needs to happen to solve this issue, but big business has a powerful lobby that politicians are too scared to confront. Consumers, better informed and educated to understand that what we eat is building up trouble for the future. We could all eat 50% less meat and in one stroke what we produce could change for the better, both in health terms and for the environment.
      KB

      • 1bar1

        Birth control.

      • fringe

        Many of these big businesses are heavily subsidised by the government. Farmers (in the US) have a huge influence on government and politicians.

        • lior

          Exactly, they influence the government to educate us that milk and meat are good for us and necessary for our diet which it is the exact opposite. We grow with that knowledge and only a few question that.

  • Theo

    In our obsession with all things modern, it’s taken as read that eating meat is a bigger planet killer than eating tofu. I’m sure that most of you posting would agree. But that’s not true. For example, compare organically reared animals with industrially produced tofu. The quantities of land needed are greater, the treatment and harvesting of the soya involves more fossil fuels and the end product often has to be shipped great distances if you live somewhere like Britain where the climate is really, really bad for growing meat substitutes. Simply put, that tasteless tofu burger you’re forcing down to preserve our planet’s future may actually be more atmosphere-frying than the delicious chunk of beef being eaten by that smug person across the table from you.

  • RUNforYOURlives

    All those who enter beware! Someone let the looneys out!

  • JORGE DIAZVILLEGAS

    Excellent and important project. I would like to contact with you to share experiences on the development of these projects. I am an architect and my country with my company designed and construct these projects. For pigs and cows.

    My email: dvillegasarquitectos@cable.net.co

  • Penelope

    Lior you’re science is twisted. Thanks to the miracles of evolution, we humans can survive just fine on a meat-free diet. As far back as 2003 scientists had established our ancestors were eating meat up to 2.5 million years ago. So that juicy slab of barbecue you hate so much isn’t some icon of modern decadence, it’s part of our traditional diet and there are plenty of other clues too. First, our bodies lack most of the equipment you’d associate with herbivores. For instance, we don’t have four stomachs, any ability to break down cellulose, or the sort of complex intestinal tracts most leaf-eaters possess. Second, our teeth are obviously designed to handle both meat and non-meat diets. Get your scientific facts right please.

    • lior

      Darling, my facts aren’t twisted but just updated.
      Back then the cave men didn’t have much choice,
      but today you have. You can go to the supermarket and buy anything from any country and every season.

      The twisted view is that we need to kill in order to live. We don’t. So many sports men / women are Vegan to get the most of their body and speedy recovery time. If we do need animal products why do we have so many supplements and vitamin shops?

      I don’t hate ‘that juicy slab of barbecue’, I ate meat and dairy for many years and I admit that I like it a lot. But it does not give me the reason to do what I like on the sufferings of others. We all know that killing is bad. We were taught from very early age to eat these things so today we don’t question that.
      All we see on TV is commercials on meat, milk,
      cheese, pizza? They put it on comercials to convince us it is good for us. Did you ever see a commercial for broccoli? How about mushrooms? Tomatoes? Cucumber? Maybe the obvious thing doesn’t need
      advertising :-)

      My very best.

  • trebuh

    From a designers point of view my first reaction was “not again”. At the two universities where I have studied I have seen three projects that were about going to a slaughterhouse and making photos there. And these photos were so much better than the ones shown here. They look kind of random. Not much thought put into them. They capture the absolute obvious scenes and fail to capture the mood.

  • http://www.libertydisciple.com/ The Liberty Disciple

    These photos make the process look clean, efficient, and strangely beautiful.

  • porky

    Looks delicious. Can’t wait to get home and throw some chops on the grill.

  • chazhutton

    I love it when my interest in architecture meets my bigger interest in delicious pork products.

  • Ben

    Can someone explain this to me? He starts off the article by saying:

    “I am not a squeamish person. I love food, I love meat, and I particularly love pork.”

    But a few paragraphs later, he writes;

    “I find it difficult to tolerate those who love eating meat, but cannot bear to think about, or look at, the slaughter and death of that animal. It seems disrespectful towards the animal, and if I wanted to get really eggy about it, I’m not sure if such people should be allowed to eat meat at all.”

    Is that an obvious contradiction or am I missing something here?

    • k

      You’re missing something. He’s saying he cannot tolerate people who love eating meat and cannot bear to think about or look at slaughter.

    • ichbinkunst

      His argument is completely dubious. If he is going to eat meat and be consequent with his actions, then he should have to “bear to think about or look at” the killing of EVERY animal he eats (if not slaughter it himself).

      Such a half-baked moral statement as an excuse to look down upon other meat eaters, in order to somehow come across as a “moral” meat eater. It just annoys me.

      Meat eating is moral only if you carry through the killing yourself.

  • Ben

    Sorry, I understand it now, the comma threw me off.

  • Lior

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean too. Publishing slaughter as a beautiful thing was a bit difficult for me.

  • Chris

    “I find it difficult to tolerate those who love eating meat, but [who also] cannot bear to think about, or look at, the slaughter and death of that animal.” i.e. The author isn’t the one who cannot bear to think about the slaughter.

  • Animal Lover

    As a vegetarian and a designer I feel offended that beautifying such an atrocious process is presented here. You are showing a minimal part of the entire process. The reality is far worse.

  • ichbinkunst

    “I find it difficult to tolerate those who love eating meat, but cannot bear to think about, or look at, the slaughter and death of that animal. It seems disrespectful towards the animal, and if I wanted to get really eggy about it, I’m not sure if such people should be allowed to eat meat at all.”

    This whole argument is completely dubious and a cheap shortcut to wash his consciousness clean of any moral second thoughts. How can he mention “respect” of the animal when the whole process is to kill it? Secondly, if he were to push his “moral” logic about being consequent with ones actions, he should have to “bear to think about and look at the slaughter and death” of EVERY animal he eats (if not slaughter it himself).

    I am not a vegetarian myself, but these kind of half-baked morals piss me off.

  • http://beaelliott.blogspot.com/ Bea Elliott

    What I find blatantly missing from this piece is any connection to the pigs at all! In 16 photos we have only one of the living beings all amassed as one unit of product. It’s a pathetic attempt to avoid the fact that these are all unique individuals. Each loves their lives as much as any of us do. This is a violation of innocent life in the name of greed and gluttony. Pretend all you want that this is acceptable behaviour for civilised man. The more among us know that as a self-serving lie.

    • Jorge

      If you were in the wild and were pray for any animal it wouldn’t even think twice about slaughtering you to consume you.

  • Joe

    Great pictures. Sorry to disappoint you though regarding your guess on the pigs’ welfare before they reach the slaughterhouse. Several intensive farming practices are common in Denmark that are banned in other countries like the UK, as well as several states in the US.

    Sow stalls keep pregnant pigs in extremely confined spaces barely bigger than their bodies, where they can only stand or lie down, not move around. Once born, piglets are kept separate from the mother, where they can still suckle through bars but cannot be mothered in any other way. This is to stop the sows crushing the young – something that would not happen if they had more space in the first place. Tails are routinely docked to avoid pigs biting each other in their state of confinement induced irritation.

    All in all pretty horrific way. Denmark’s reputation as a progressive nation obviously doesn’t stretch as far as animal welfare. All this can be found out in five minutes of googling, and is pretty well known and accepted. I can’t believe the writer spent the time visiting and photographing the abattoir, and writing the text, but didn’t even bother looking this up before making ignorant assumptions. Especially when the article starts with a diatribe against those who are ignorant of where their food comes from! I’m always surprised that free range chicken/eggs (as opposed to battery farmed) are so popular now, but free range/organic pork is almost impossible to find in British supermarkets, I suppose it’s just to do with awareness.

  • Miss Piggy

    Looks very clean.

  • 1bar1

    Humans are omnivorous creatures.

  • lperez

    In Cuba where I was born and raised, meat was rationed and people eat cats instead. I’m not trying to be funny it’s totally true.

  • Ursula2007

    All I can see when I look at the photos of pink pigs hanging in a line is the similarity of their form to that of the human body, and I am saddened and repulsed.

  • lior

    Did you hear about TED talks? It is all there mate:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STdSfeMDeI4

  • Simon

    The phrasing of the second para that you quote is the problem.

    The writer means that he can’t tolerate the people who a) love eating meat, and b) cannot consider the origin of that meat.

    But he writes it as if he a) can’t tolerate the people who love eating meat and b) can’t bear to think about etc.

    I had to read it three times before I understood.

  • Alastair Philip Wiper

    Dear all, this is Alastair, the photographer and author of the article. Since this post has gone out into the big wide world, it has stirred up a lot of debate and some sensitive feelings. If I had been more critical in my tone, and had more negative points to make about the slaughterhouse, it might have been a lot easier for some people to take – but my approach was to be as neutral as possible and say what I saw from a layman’s perspective – and that is what I have done. However, I would like to clarify a couple of points:

    – I am working from the perspective of my personal decision that I think eating meat is OK. I know that not everybody agrees with that, but we are all welcome to our own point of view. Furthermore, I am not espousing a moral ideology about understanding how an animal dies in order to be able to eat it – I am just giving my opinion – other opinions are available. Everyone is entitled to their own relationship to the food they eat, and the world of culinary delights is a beautiful, fun, disturbing, controversial melting pot of a place. I just think it’s a good thing if people think about where their food comes from – and this series is intended to give just a tiny glimpse into one very small part of the origins of some of our food. Of course, the treatment of the animals during their lifetime is as important if not more important than the way it dies, and I would encourage anyone to find out more about this process – but this is not what the piece is about. It seems strange to some people to talk about “respecting” an animal if you are going to kill, or are killing it. As I have made a conscious decision to eat meat, something I spent some time thinking about, I believe that there are good and bad ways to treat an animal during it’s lifetime and death. Using as much of the animal as possible, from the nose to the tail, as they do in the plant at Horsens, is also an important part of that respect.

    – Believe it or not, I spent seven years as a vegetarian, between the ages of 17 and 24. It taught me a lot about food, and cooking, and when I began to eat meat again I was very cautious. As much as I love it, I still do not eat a lot of meat, and I avoid processed food about 99% of the time. I would like to say that I only eat the best meat all the time, but I’m sure that now and then something slips by – I like a hot dog every once in a while, and if you ever eat out you can rarely be sure where that meat has come from. I have to live with that to a certain extent. However, food should be something we enjoy and something that don’t get too bogged down with. Food can be taken too seriously sometimes, and then (at least for me) it stops being fun – but it is important that there is balance and awareness out there as well, and a consumer push towards doing things the right way.

    – This series does not show the whole process at the plant. The really bloody parts – the death and the disembowelling – I was not allowed to photograph, because Danish Crown was concerned about the anonymity of the workers in those sections. However, I did see them, and they are part of any normal public tour of the plant. While being hard to stomach (excuse the pun), the process looked like I imagined it to look – a bloodbath. How can you kill 100,000 pigs a week without that?

    – I’m sorry, Morrissey.

    • James

      I have to congratulate you on this photo essay. You have triggered a healthy discussion. People should be aware of where their food comes from and all of the industrial logistics that enables meat to be so widely available.

      I think by capturing part of the process in a neutral way, you’ve allowed people to react against your work and discuss what they feel is the reality. Perfect trigger to debate.

      I would love to see a photo essay by you that explores the welfare of animals before they end up in the slaughterhouse. It would be interesting to see an uncompromising but neutral perspective on this.

      Again, congratulations.

  • Architect

    Haha, I love it when a single person takes over the entire comment section and replies to every comment that anyone makes.

  • Sharòn

    Concerned citizen, seriously? Is this your answer and opinion? Animals cannot talk?

    • Concerned Citizen

      Seriously? You are that shallow?

  • Concerned Citizen

    No, it is their nature to feel less. And no, animals do not have the same complex nervous system. A course in middle school science would be of great benefit to you.