Human Meat

I hadn’t known what to expect when I turned up at Piccadilly Circus to photograph a protest calling for the closure of all slaughterhouses. I’m not a vegetarian and certainly not a vegan, though I’m very much against cruelty to animals, and on environmental grounds think that most people eat too much meat. At home we eat quite a lot of vegetarian food, but I still like to have a varied diet, and although the protest took place at lunchtime, and I was feeling a little hungry, I waited until I’d gone elsewhere before getting out my ham sandwiches!

I arrived more or less dead on time (oh dear), and for a few minutes it looked as if this was going to be a rather small and not too interesting protest.  But more people arrived, including a few that I knew, and one told me that if I was lucky there would soon be some scantily dressed women arriving. I wasn’t entirely sure if he was joking.

But soon I saw a woman sitting down on some large sheets of white card and removing her modelling gown to reveal she was dressed only in bra and pants.  Soon she was lying down and a man in a white suite labelled as a ‘Demon Butcher’ was dribbling fake blood over her before two others wrapped her in cling film and slapped on a large label with a bar code, ‘HUMAN MEAT’. Then a second woman was getting the same treatment.

I took quite a few pictures trying to work out the best approach. Getting in close and cropping the torso to use the white background;  taking the picture wider to show the pavement around, or including the protesters behind – and a few other variations – you can see some on ‘Human Meat’ – Close Slaughterhouses.

For a protest in the centre of London there were surprisingly few photographers, and even the many tourists around seemed a little shy about taking pictures.

The posters and placards you can see in the pictures certainly show some terrible scenes of animal cruelty, and they protesters say there is no such thing as humane slaughter and call the attitude that allows us to treat animals differently to humans ‘speciesist’. I can’t agree, because I do think we have a special relationship with others of our own species.  People do matter more than animals. But of course we shouldn’t be cruel to animals, although many animals are terribly cruel to other animals, killing them to eat in the only way that they know. We humans know better and should do better. If that’s ‘speciesist’ I’m proud to be so.

I enjoyed my ham sandwich on the bus on my way to the next protest. I hope the pig lived a decent life and was slaughtered humanely, though I can’t be sure. Though of course the pig only had a life because it was going to be eaten at the end of it.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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