If you had to personally slaughter all the animals you eat for their selective cuts, would you still eat meat?
This is a tough question to ask. I know. I’ve asked it of myself many times over. Having done so, I still don’t have a definitive answer. I eat meat. I like the taste of meat. I feel better when I include meat in my diet. And yes, I still identify as an environmentally conscious citizen of this planet. Will I continue to eat meat for the rest of my life? I don’t know. Would that make me a more evolved, socially and environmentally conscious human being because I decided to exclude animal products from my diet, thereby alleviating myself from the cause of direct animal suffering and death? Hell to the no. I’d still be the same old excuse for a human being inflicting pain on this planet with my mere presence. BUT, synchronicity be true, making the same efforts to bring equilibrium to my imbalance and attempting to raise the collective unconscious.
I think many people face the ethical dilemma of whether it’s ‘ok’ to eat meat or not at some point in their life. I support those of you 100% who choose to not eat meat. I too believe the conventional factory farming of animals is horrifying, unsustainable and unethical. I also support those of you 100% who do choose to eat meat. Because I want to believe that you’ve thought about this question yourself and that you are aware of the state of the industry and you are making the best choices possible to support farmers who are raising their animals in a more humane manner.
For the first time in my life, I’ve taken the life of an animal I intentionally raised to eat. I’m not going to sugar coat any of this for you. It was tough. I’m not a squeamish person, so the blood draining from the chicken’s throat didn’t make me squeal. Plucking the feathers from it’s carcass didn’t make me dry-retch. Nor did scraping out the intestines and organs from within its rib cage. Do I sound like a cold, heartless bitch?
No. It was the slitting of this beautiful creature’s throat that made my eyes well with tears. As I gently caressed its neck, and 100% intentionally took its life, I knew full well what I was doing. Seeing its eyes roll back in its head. Forcing myself to watch every second of it.
Now what if I had to do this for every piece of meat I have ever eaten.
Would I have eaten it at all?
I doubt it. Like many people in this world – or so I would bloody hope – I don’t enjoy watching death taking hold of a what was once, a living, breathing animal. I don’t gain satisfaction in participating in the process. But I acknowledge that without death, there can be no life. And yet I stand in awe how with but the hand of man, we wield the power of life and death in our hand. Like gods of earth, determining with moral standards which creatures live and which creatures die.
For some people in this world, this is their reality – killing animals for survival. Every single time. For many of us, this is not. We get out meat neatly packaged, sealed and delivered to our dining room tables. Without seeing the animal walking, living, breathing. Without understanding the human toil and the environmental footprint of this process.
A LOT goes into the raising of just one chicken. To make it economically viable, it makes sense to raise many rather than simply one. Even on a small scale. Coop and feed costs can quickly add up. Space is necessary if you’re like us and want to raise them on pasture so they can forage and free range. We were attending to these chickens several times a day. I’m sure many take a far more ‘hands off’ approach, but as first timers, our ‘system’ didn’t allow for that. I quickly came to appreciate the premium you pay for a superior quality end product.
Now ask yourself this question:
If you had to personally grow and harvest all the food you eat, would you still eat?
You see, asking this question seems rather silly now, doesn’t it? Thinking about what constitutes even a vegetarian or vegan’s die -, the rice, grains, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, processed foods, etc, etc – death is all along the food chain.
As someone who also grows a small portion of her vegetables and fruit that make up a large portion of her diet (because I eat a lot of plant matter), I also understand the kind of human toil and resources required to simply GROW FOOD IN GENERAL. The difficulty of timing plantings and harvests so you have a continual supply of a diverse range of fresh food to eat – it’s intense. Mother Nature is a wild beast and where I live, oh so unpredictable. But I try. And all circumstances considered, I think we do pretty good.
I’m merely making a point to say that there is no right or wrong. It’s all so subjective and circumstantial. To make a choice about any of this is a privilege and one we shouldn’t take lightly. There is such thing, however, as making better and more educated choices about what we eat, how we eat it, and where/who we source it from. When we subscribe to the belief that there is “one way” to do ANYTHING, we are ignoring the fact that Mother Nature doesn’t care for human moral standards. This planet is dynamic. Forever evolving. Ourselves included.
I don’t believe you have to grow or raise your own food to live more sustainably or ethically. Naturally, I encourage you to do whatever you can to do so, even if it means growing a few herbs on your balcony, because the process of caring for something that will feed you is a magical and enlightening experience – and reward – in and of itself. As a community-minded person, I love the idea of supporting those who choose to make it their vocation to be land-stewards and grow/raise food to feed said communities. We are part of this ecosystem and I want to ensure I’m supporting those who are doing so with the best intentions and practices to make it a sustainable venture. I also want to support these farmers so they too can sustain their livelihood, thereby providing them with even greater capacity to expand their capacity as earth stewards.
I hope we all feel this calling to be earth stewards though; as an intrinsic responsibility within the depths of our being, regardless if you grow or raise your own food or not. If we all ate less meat in general (because let’s admit, on average, we eat a lot as a species), using the same funds to buy high quality meat (even if it is less in quantity), and in the process, supporting farmers who are raising animals in a far more natural and sustainable manner, I think we’d be on a better path moving forward.
I will not guilt or shame someone because they do or don’t eat meat. Guilt and shame is never the answer. Compassion is based on love and understanding. This extends to your fellow human beings. I too came from a background of ignorance, not knowing better, nor having the means to source higher quality meat. I’ve also chosen to not eat meat during my life for many reasons. I couldn’t afford to. I thought it was ‘healthier’. I couldn’t trust the source. I was put off by it. I didn’t feel like it. I preferred the vegetarian alternative on the menu. I was struggling with the ethical dilemma. For whatever reason.
Now, however, I AM in a position, a very fortunate position, to have some space, time, means and support, to share in the responsibility of raising our own chickens. An opportunity I had no access to prior. As someone who grew up in the city, didn’t come from a farming background, has lived without a backyard for the last 6+ years (until now), I do come to this with a far different attitude to someone who may have grown up with acres at their footsteps.
As we eat our home grown, pasture-raised chickens in the coming months, I will enjoy every mouthful more intensely than ever. Picturing that very animal I raised since a little chick. Grateful for every morsel. So ever grateful for its life and death. I take full responsibility for this animal’s life and do so with the utmost respect hoping I gave it the best life I possibly could.
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