Eating Animals: A Reality Check
I get a variety of reactions when I mention that we raise rabbits for meat and that we regularly butcher our animals. Every reaction from cringing horror to awed curiosity. Either extreme reaction makes me feel a tinge of sadness. How have we become so disconnected from the creatures and the processes to which we owe all our animal products? I also hear that “ I could never kill anything, that’s so horrible/mean/gross; I will just keep buying my meat from the store.”
I can only sigh and shake my head at that belief. I have to hope that those folks don’t realize how horrible conventional animal production operations are and that they aren’t simply trying to avoid facing the fact that an animal dies for that steak or fried chicken.
Honestly, I personally believe that if you can’t slaughter an animal yourself, if you couldn’t take the life of another animal, you shouldn’t eat meat. That doesn’t mean I think you should only eat animals you slaughter yourself – although that sounds like a pretty dang good situation to me. If you can’t face the death you should not partake in the kill. Of course, not everyone will agree with that philosophy and I can accept your desire to avoid having to kill and then process your own meat animals but you should still care about how the animals are raised, slaughtered and butchered. I think you should take a hard look at continuing to eat meat if you can’t face the idea of them dying for your steak.
If you buy from someone who raises livestock with practices that respect the animals you never have to look the cow in the eye but you will know that someone did. That they made sure it was happy, healthy, died a clean death with the least possible fear and pain and that every bit of the animal that could be used was used. None of the animals you can buy from the average supermarket were guaranteed that kind of life. Many were denied all of those aspects of a good life and humane, compassionate death. They live in cramped quarters, unable to express their natural instincts, frustrated, bored and miserable. Then are shuttled off to be butchered in an automated system in the least personable and often least humane way that creates the least healthy meat possible.
I can only imagine how the folks who work in those processing plants are traumatized by slaughtering hundreds of animals daily in those kinds of conditions. Slaughter day should be something that is treated with respect. The people involved should be able to prepare mentally and physically by learning skills, sharpening knifes and making what ever preparations are needed to make the event quick and efficient.
This is not the same “quick and efficient” that happens in an industrial slaughter house. This kind is to cause the least pain, fastest death and healthiest meat; not use the least labor and to process the most animals. It’s something that should be done with a kind of reverence. I am always reminded of the fragility of life and how little separates us from the animal we eat. I’m not saying it has to be a solemn affair but every bit of the animal should be respected in life and death. Because of that I dislike many glory shots. I understand taking a picture of a nice buck or fish but there is no need to take crude photos with the animal who’s life you just took. You might say, gezzz lighten up, it’s just an animal. But, so are we.
I think that when you become reconnected with your food, with the animals who give you eggs, butter and pork chops, you don’t have to be told to respect their death. You put so much work, physical and emotional into raising livestock that you can’t help but be sad on butchering day. You should also be glad though, because you made sure that the animals you intend to eat had a great life and that the food you will feed your family is healthy and taken in respect. I know I’m taking a hard stance on this subject but it is truly how I feel. I don’t ask you to agree with me but I do ask you to take time to consider the animals who live to feed you.
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