n the Christmas rush of seeing family, cooking, driving, and also trying to switch off, I have not done much in the way of thinking! However, I have read two very interesting articles recently and I simply wanted to share them here. Both relate to eating meat, which seems to be a theme in my life at the moment.
George Monbiot, a British journalist, writes about meat, the current Western view of meat, and the farming practices which surround it. Whilst I am not able to comment on farming practices as I just don't know enough yet, I do agree with his idea that all children should be taken to abattoir (as part of the curriculum?), where they can actually witness the reality of eating meat: that an animal has to die. Ok, maybe not 7 year olds(!), but rather teenagers. Their decision to eat meat would then be built upon a more informed foundation. As Monbiot says:
"Rather than mindlessly consuming meat at every meal, we should think of it as an extraordinary gift: a privilege, not a right. We could reserve meat for a few special occasions, such as Christmas...All children should be taken by their schools to visit a factory pig or chicken farm, and to an abattoir, where they should be able to witness every stage of slaughter and butchery. Does this suggestion outrage you? If so, ask yourself what you are objecting to: informed choice or what it reveals? If we cannot bear to see what we eat, it’s not the seeing that’s wrong, it’s the eating."
I have come into contact with some people who are disgusted by the process that we had to go through when we slaughtered our own pigs, and do not want to hear about the process. Do not want to hear about the blood and the guts. While it is people's choice whether they can stomach it (no pun intended!), is it ok that they then go on to eat a steak for their dinner? I know this sounds militant! And on reflection, this is probably due, in part, to people not being exposed to the reality of meat production. I found gutting animals more off-putting when I started doing it than I do now. So maybe if people were exposed to the 'blood and guts' they would become more accustomed to it?
The second article was passed onto me by someone who thought it might help elucidate the ethics of eating meat. The Stony Brook Farm article, written by a pig farmer in the USA, looks at the the ethics of rearing and then slaughtering animals for meat.
"The simplest way to put it is that slaughtering animals for their meat is a socially permissible ethical transgression. Societal permission does not make it ethical, it just makes it acceptable. Slavery was for centuries socially permissible (in spite of the fact that there was always a minority standing firmly against it). Did that make it any less unethical? I doubt anyone today would say yes."
The writer goes onto to say that "Because I give the pigs lives that are as close to natural as is possible in an unnatural system, I am honorable, I am just, I am humane, while all the while behind the shroud, I am a slaveholder and a murderer." Shocking as it sounds, this is how I felt after slaughtering our pigs. Whilst it was the best way for our pigs to die if we were going to eat them, the question still hangs: Did they have do die at all? I could chose not to eat any meat at all, and they would still be alive.
Monbiot, George (2014): Overgrowth. http://www.monbiot.com/2014/12/16/overgrowth/
stonybrookfarm (2012): The Grapple of Ethics. http://stonybrookfarm.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/the-grapple-of-ethics/