Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why I'm comfortable being a meat eater

I got into a discussion on a friend’s Facebook page today with one of their friends about humane farming practices, particularly slaughter. Here is essentially what I shared with my experience as a farmer and why I’m comfortable being a meat eater.

All animals – and people – live and die. That is the basic fact of life. They can either die and provide nourishment to another or they die in vain. In Mother Nature, there is no such thing as humane slaughter. When a wolf or a coyote kills a rabbit or deer, the act is brutal. There is suffering. Mother Nature is brutal. She is graphic. I’d love to see some undercover video of that – or just check out National Geographic.

In farming, we harvest (kill) our animals in the most humane way possible to prevent stressing the animal. Not only is it the right thing to do, animals who are stressed at harvest can yield meat that is inedible. So a stressful slaughter would cost a farmer money. Not only do our morals encourage humane harvesting, economics encourage it too.

I’ve been able to witness animals be butchered by small local butchers and I have also seen the kill floor of a large beef processing company. I’ve heard some people worry that seeing an animal killed would make them a vegetarian. For me, it actually made me more comfortable with the process. It is calm, very quiet and quick.

Sometimes an animal dies as a result of sickness and never gets to be a part of the food chain. I absolutely hate to see animals die for no reason. An animal that dies from sickness provides no nourishment and has essentially died in vain. To me, these animals that die without a purpose are tragic. As farmers, we all work to prevent these deaths with no purpose. And yes, it hurts economically when an animal dies in vain too.

For people who are concerned about how meat is raised or animals slaughtered you have a few options. You can become a vegetarian or vegan or you can get to know a farmer. I’d encourage you to get to know the farmer. We are good people, doing the best we can by these animals.

I love cows, I love raising them and I love to eat them too. As a farmer I respect them in life and in death and for the nourishment they provide to me, my family, and my customers. I’m a life long beef eater and animal lover.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post !!

Anonymous said...

So well said!!!!!

LindaG said...

I would love to meet a farmer that would let me buy a share of a cow.
We had a bit of... price shock?... when hubby could finally retired.

He remembered buying male dairy calves for less than a hundred dollars and raising them for meat when he grew up. Now there are almost no dairies, and calf prices are way more than a hundred dollars.

And of course, the property isn't as big as it was when he was growing up, either.

It's too bad there aren't more small farms. Most Americans have no real clue where their food comes from, other than the grocery store!

I'm looking forward to being able to process our first chicken. I've heard that nothing tastes better; and that I will be amazed at the flavor.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree that the animals are harvested humanely with the least amount of stress and harm as possible. But you cannot say that the living conditions are as humane as in the wild. An animal living in a concrete pen or inside of a confined bulding is much different than one living in outdoors. Yes they are safer being confined and possibly healthier in some respects. But I suspect confinement cannot be pleasent. I so have an agricultural science degree and credential ti teach agriculture, but I have been been thinking more about ethical agriculture lately. I do enjoy a cheap source of animal protein but im not sure it is really worth it. Possibly a pasture raised version of animal agriculture is better. Im not saying I have the answers, just been thinking a lot lately

Shannon said...

Anon #3 - thanks for your comments. I think you raise a valid point. Farmers are constantly getting better at managing confinement operations. We know that controlling the environment and keeping predators away helps reduce stress but we are also getting better at keeping their minds happy. Chicken cages now have scratching areas to help mimic natural environments. We keep working to do a better and better job.

Shannon said...

Linda G - yes calf prices - and feed prices - are high these days. You can use a website like local harvest.org to find local farmers. But with beef prices high, the calf prices are high too.

Anonymous said...

I am anon 3 lol. Yes I know what the industry is doing. I have raised and bred hogs. And have been heavily in the poultry industry raising chickens, done internships with the largest companies in the state and actually am still very involved in the animal agriculture industry communicating with these industry heads everyday. It pays my bills. But I cant help to think still. I am excited for the industry to take larger steps but concerned about the actual cost of these products in stores. Its a difficult balancing act