A disturbing sign outside a restaurant (Bennett’s Cafe and Bistro in York)

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As I was walking in York city centre yesterday, enjoying the sunny weather and the spectacular view of the Minster, a sign outside a restaurant made me do a double take.

The sign, which was proudly positioned outside Bennett’s Cafe and Bistro, read, “Mary had a little lamb…it tasted great with onion jam!”.


bennett's bistro, york


There was something about the shameless and flippant callousness of this ‘joke’ that I found particularly offensive. The warped and grotesque way in which the author had subverted an innocent nursery rhyme, degrading the image of Mary’s pet lamb and reducing a living, loving baby animal into a dead piece of meat for human consumption, disturbed me.

As a vegan I object to the killing of any animal. The murder of a baby animal though seems especially disgusting; a sentient being stolen from their mother after such a short life and killed purely to provide humans with something tasty to eat. What’s especially disturbing is that lambs are generally thought of as very cute animals; everyone has seen kids and their parents cooing over lambs whilst watching them playing and frolicking in fields during spring.

The ability to love one cute lamb whilst readily consuming the murdered corpse of another is a psychological phenomenon known as ‘cognitive dissonance’, a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours, as discussed in an Association For Psychological Science article titled The Meat Paradox: How Carnivores Think About Dinner.

Depressingly, to many humans, the life of an animal means nothing. Animals exist simply for humans to exploit, kill and consume. It’s ‘natural’ for humans to eat meat, they say; we ‘need’ to eat meat to be healthy – and, despite the strong evidence disproving such beliefs, they have no moral qualms about continuing to consume animal corpses. I assume the sign’s author believes such provably false arguments. This individual also, let’s not forget, has a strong financial motivation for engaging with the meat industry – their livelihood depends on selling dead animals to other meat eating customers in their bistro.

Many people are thoroughly detached and shielded from the reality of meat production and this is a contributing factor as to why some continue to eat it.


lamb in spring


The reality of animal slaughter is unpleasant, distressing and violent and if meat eaters were aware of it (or faced up to their own wilful ignorance), some would undoubtedly renounce meat and become at least vegetarian.

Lambs are abducted from their mothers between the ages of six weeks and five months – grotesquely, the younger the lamb the more pale and tender their flesh, and the more tasty it is for human consumption. They are then transported to the slaughterhouse, a journey causing the sensitive animals stress and fear, if not outright terror.

Lambs are ‘unloaded’ from the van (a term taken from a slaughterhouse’s website and revealing how animals are seen as simply products and not feeling, sentient creatures) and ‘guided’ to a stunning area. They may be physically abused during their final journey, as numerous documented examples of horrendous animal treatment in slaughterhouses have shown. At the least the lambs will be stressed and fearful of their new and unfamiliar environment, but more likely terrified by the disturbing sounds and smells around them. They will suffer additional stress from the slaughterhouse workers’ attempts to ‘guide’ (meaning jostle and prod) them into moving along to their final destination.

The lambs are physically picked up and carried into the slaughterhouse. They may struggle to break free. In the slaughterhouse they are forcibly held down in a ‘stunning cradle’. Their final moments are lived in fear and distress. Manhandled and restrained, their pitiful existence is brought nearer to its end by a set of electric stunners held to the head and a strong electrical current discharged through skull and brain.

The lamb is not yet dead but unconscious – if he or she is lucky. Some animals remain conscious after a botched stunning. Whether conscious or unconscious, the still living lamb is hoisted up by their legs and their throat slit by a knife-wielding slaughterman. The moment of murder is euphemistically referred to in the industry as ‘sticking’. In Halal and Kosher slaughter, of course, lambs are not even stunned prior to ‘sticking’. Whether standard slaughter, Halal, or Kosher, blood gushes from the gaping wound and the lamb finally dies.


gordon ramsey lamb slaughter

Gordon Ramsay watches lambs being killed.


The lamb slaughter process is so disturbing that when it was televised during a Gordon Ramsay programme, PETA reported that they’d been contacted by people who’d watched the footage and were so horrified that they felt they had to request vegetarian starter packs. Ramsay, a man not known for his sensitivity, became visibly upset during the slaughter and described how “The last thing on my mind now is f*****g shepherd’s pie.” His wife was also in attendance at the killing and she too looked “pale and upset”. The footage was highly disturbing even though it represented a ‘best case scenario’ killing; many animals suffer far more at slaughterhouses the world over, every minute of every day, than the ones in Ramsay’s programme.

Sadly many people will still not be affected by reading or watching the slaughter process described above. There’s not really much I or any other vegan or vegetarian can say to them to change their minds. I’m thankful that I do not share their mentality but for the sake of the animals, I hope that one day their thinking will evolve and they will realise that the abuse and murder of animals for meat is totally unneccessary and morally unjustifiable.

When individuals like the author of the sign not only eat meat but actively, crudely and provocatively celebrate the killing of animals, however, I feel it is our responsibility as non-meat eaters to confront them and to let them know we are disgusted, and why.

I’ve tweeted my thoughts to the bistro (@BennettsYork) and have left a comment on their Facebook page. I will call out anyone who mocks the killing of sentient beings, whether lambs, sheep, pigs, cows, or any other species of animal that humans arrogantly think can be exploited and abused without condemnation or consequence.


    I used to be a vegetarian but do now eat meat only beef and chicken , I would never eat lamb or game for that matter and I believe your post and similar educational posts will hopefully make people think about the way animals are treated only to satisfy our appetites . You are correct to feel disgusted at the humorous to some blackboard it shows absolutely no respect for another living creature . Wondering how the passers by would feel dog was on the menu and you could select by pedigree or breed .

    Hi. There’s no difference between a cow, a chicken, a lamb, a pheasant, or a deer. I’m also not sure why you wouldn’t eat game (by which I assume you mean deer, grouse, pheasant etc.) but you do eat chicken. ‘Game’ animals generally have a freer life and endure less suffering than chickens. It’s a real shame you started eating animal corpses again.

    Ow i know tapped i am see

    If humans didn’t eat meat then the lamb would Never have been born. I choose not to eat meat, but most people do, and that is why sheep are farmed. Sad but true.

    Ok not a problem i know its a very time consuming job affecting peoples businesses stopping all little lambs from going to slaughter lol lets all turn veggi and have loads of interesting chats about what lettuce we ate today well you know what they say ( A squirel only eats nuts ) i was really productive today managed to cut up daisy the cow, shaun the sheep and pepper the pig o and a few chwwcks had it aswell

    You are sick in the head.

    Big words sorry dont understand i stand for the people that see the world in black and white but you wouldent understand that . I would like to invite you and other sense less people to come and spend the day with me to see what its all about in the real world dont mean it in a thretaning way a genuine day of education and sense REAL OFFER FROM A REAL PERSON and nearly forgot will be fed on your visit gess what ??? Lamb and onion jam whoooo joyo

    Thanks for the offer, but I really have better things to do with my time than hang around with deeply confused morons.

    Very disappointed in you thought you mit be a bit more open minded you must have been force fed tripe As a child and about money im one of many farmers that are losing a lot of money at this time of year p.s go on my facebook page and tell me then i dont care about sheep fuck if a lambs ill i give it antibiotics if a ewe cant deliver here lamb i rush out of work to help her if a lambs colf i bring him in and put him by the fire to worm up any farmer does that it come with he title and for you to say i exploit and abuse then go fuck your self hippy

    The fact that you are proud of selling to be murdered animals you claim to care about is called cognitive dissonance. I would suggest you research it but you are evidently poorly educated and I don’t think you would understand it.

    Hell ye ! { Ivy had a fat lamb and sent it to slaughter ! } And i work in a butchers no simpathy here sorry in my opion because that is what this site is all about in this world its hard enough as it is to make some money if you can put something new / funny / witty with a rim then do it i would dont mistace me i love all my sheep they all have names different personalitys if i can use that word for sheep they rule my life ,relationships and my wallet BUT they are there for a porpose in life

    The fact that you murder animals you claim to love is disturbing. A sheep’s “purpose” in life is to live its own life, not for people like you to exploit and abuse to line their own pockets.

    I think its brilliant made me laugh wish id thought of it

    You wouldn’t happen to be a lamb farmer by any chance, would you?

    My mindset is that I don’t eat meat because it is not right to – for lots of reasons – not because of emotion. My understanding is that sheep meat can be called lamb until it is 18 months old. The reality is that the majority of the lamb consumed in the UK will be from older animals, unless a younger animal has been specificied and a premium paid for that meat. In this way the majority of lambs get to live something of a life and the meat industry gets more (meagre!) commercial value from taking their lives.

    Not neccecarily if you tell them in person only they get the message if you tell them on their social media pages then the discussion is in full view of the public and the impact is greater as more people (including customers) see the discussion and might form their own opinions which might possibly affect their decision when selecting a food outlet in future. This then has the knock on effect on their business due to the bad press and provides more incentive to change their attitude towards the subject. They are forced to address the issue or at least acknowledge it. If you tell them in person they can simply tell you they don’t care and then there is no further consequence.

    Just a thought… Go in and tell them in person! More impact that way.

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  1. Anita

    The previous commenter is obviously a neanderthal – totally de-sensitised and indoctrinated into the absurd human supremacy delusion, beyond the point of no return. You are absolutely right to call out any callous mockery of the suffering of sentient non humans! I remember when the soft drinks co. Iron – Bru brought out a similar, very nasty ad campaign of a cow ( or calf ?) with a caption below saying “When I’m a burger, I want to be washed down with Iron-Bru” and many people were rightly up in arms about it and after numerous complaints ( mine included! ) they apologised and scrapped it. Only those with very limited intelligence and integrity make light of the suffering of innocents. Always follow your heart x

    • I’m surprised poor Simon could actually read the article. He certainly doesn’t seem the brightest of fellows. Thanks for your comment, Anita!

  2. Vegan Zeitkritik

    In my early vegan days, I used to think that people were mostly lacking information and that if they saw footage of violence like you described they would surely stop consuming this violence’s outcomes. Realizing that information wasn’t enough to change people’s ways was very sobering. Like you say, mocking animal suffering is one of the ways humans enable themselves to engage in animal suffering without having to think of themselves as bad people. All the more important to call them out on it.

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