March 14, 2010

How can you do it?

The question I get asked about once every couple of weeks is "How can you do it?" I can answer without much thought or hesitation. It's a question I ask myself each time we butcher an animal - How can I raise this (insert farm animal of choice) from birth, just to butcher and eat it? I repeat the answer over and over to remind myself. So, here it is ...

If I'm going to consume meat, I need to have a hand it raising it.

Simple, huh. Need more explanation? Ok, here goes ...

Eating, as with everything in life, offers endless choices. One choice is to be a vegetarian. Better for the earth? Perhaps. If you can avoid soy and corn. Better for your health? Depends on how much and what meat you consume. Easy on your conscience? Yes, unequivocally. I was vegetarian for a few years in college. It didn't take. I really love pork roast.

Another choice is to eat meat bought at the store. It doesn't resemble anything like an animal. It comes skinless, bones and pre-cut. You can eat it and ignore the fact you are eating an animal that was living just a couple weeks ago. I can't do that. I can't ignore what happened before the animal was cut and wrapped. It makes me feel more guilty not knowing how the animal was raised. Was it in a pasture or in a 8x8 ft pen with no sun light? Did it graze on grasses or was it fed corn and corn by-products? Did it die quickly by people that cared or was it conveyor-belted into a room and electrocuted? Sorry for the graphic picture but that I what I think about when I eat meat bought at the store.

The choice we made was to accept that eating meat means killing an animal. And killing an animal is hard. It can make you sad. It also makes you thankful that the animal gave its life to sustain yours. There is still guilt, and sometimes tears. There is also knowing each animal grew up on a pasture, eating healthy foods and being well cared for. And it was killed in the most humane way we could figure.

That's how I can do it.


Lora said...

I just saw your post and I'm so glad I stumbled upon it. We are raising 3 pigs for the first time and my 10 year old son is horrified that we're raising them "just so we can kill them." It's so hard to get through to him why it is important to us to raise them ourselves and your post explained all of our reasons perfectly. I know it's going to be a sad day on our little farm when we have to kill them, but it's good to know that we're in good company as to why and how we're doing it. Thanks again.

Mindy said...

It's so hard for young kids. My daughter, now 11 yrs old, has chosen to become vegetarian because she isn't OK with killing our animals to eat them. I explained that that is a valid choice and I will support her. What I can't support is only eating meat from anonymous sources because it's easier to not know where the meat comes from. She gets it, for the most part. And I hold out hope that as she matures she will come around to eating our meat again. But if not, at least she understands the choice she is making. Good luck to you!