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A callous kind of luxury - Ed's journal
A callous kind of luxury
One of the things that we've all quite got to grips with is the luxury that is our food supply. We no longer have to worry overly about availability of food - where shall we do lunch, is a much more pressing question than 'will there be food tomorrow?'.

But one of the things that this has done, is allowed us to isolate ourselves from the production of said food. It's actually quite easy to buy stuff in packets, tins, and tubs that has no real link with 'where it came from'.

Think for a moment, just how easy it would be to never have seen a potato. There are kids who have done exactly that - they've lived on chips, mash, croquets, shaped dino-bites, and all sorts of other things that have no bearing on a potato, despite being made from it.

And if you think about it, that's really quite a horrific notion when it comes to meat - you're able to ignore and trivialise the fact that something has died to provide you with your steak. Your chicken breast. Your bacon. Even your reformed chicken nuggets, your sausages and your leather shoes.

Fluffy, Ermintrude, and little Shaun the sheep, look at you with pleading eyes, saying 'please, I just want to live like you do. Don't kill me.'.

It's not so much whether you feel you could, or couldn't kill an animal for the sake of feeding yourself (or your family) - it's more the sheer atrocity, and immorality of pretending it doesn't happen. Of not thinking about what's happening to that lorry load of cows driving into the abatoir.

I don't actually have too much problem with the notion that the world is a savage garden - humanity exists primarily through being right near the top of the food chain, and we're omniverous, which really helps, because we can eat practically anything. I don't even have a huge problem with the notion that you might feel you could make the decision that the lives of you, your tribe, your family are more important than the life of that cow.

I'm just sayin' that if you don't honestly feel comfortable with the notion of killing and butchering an animal - one that has done you no harm, and may have even been providing you with eggs or milk for the last few years. Or worse, the 'factory farm production' where animals are kept in cages, artificially fed hormones and fattened up in a short and pointless existance, other than to make their way to your dinner plate.
If you have problems with these notions, then then each time you order a bacon sarnie, you're a being a hypocrite.
9 comments or Leave a comment
velvet_nothing From: velvet_nothing Date: April 20th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure I'd be comfortable to be the one actually *doing* the killing myself, but I don't think that means I can't be ethically comfortable with eating meat. If I *had* to do the killing, I could probably bring myself to, but yes, I'm glad that it's not my job.

What I do care about is the life the animal has lead before its death, and the 'production' and killing methods used to create The Meat. I always buy free range eggs and chicken, despite being on incapacity benefits. The trick, I've found, is to scour the reduced sections in the supermarkets, where you can almost always find free-range and organic meats at a really decent price. I also only buy British pork these days, after looking at how low the welfare standards for pigs are throughout most of Europe. Danish bacon has NOT come from a happy pig. Interestingly, this often means I have to buy streaky bacon, because some supermarkets simply don't have any 'normal' rashers where the animals have actually been raised in Britain (though the labels can be extremely deceptive) - or at least not at an affordable price.

The point at which I *am* a hypocrite is when it comes to eating out :o( If more places could guarantee their chicken was free range etc., then I'd always opt for them over the others, but sadly there are few restaurants (and no take-aways I know of) that do. Kakooti only use organic meat. I like Kakooti! I'm also a hypocrite when it comes to buying processed meat products, like breaded chicken and readymeals, because I do buy them and it's extremely unlikely those chickens have ever known a happy life. I do feel bad about it, and again, wish that more companies offered 'alternative' products with animals who have been better treat.

One thing I'd like to do, if I ever have a garden, is to keep my own 'rescue' chickens for eggs :o) I know someone who does this, and have a lovely box of her eggs in my fridge at the moment, which taste loads better than shop-bought ones. Battery farms get rid of most of their chickens after about a year, regardless of whether they are still laying, and you can take them on as rescues. Yummy eggs and cute hens = yay!
forest_rose From: forest_rose Date: April 20th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was going to say this, but you are so much more eloquent than me! So, I will restrict my comment to:

voodoolou From: voodoolou Date: April 20th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
My motto is 'if you can catch it, you can kill it and then eat it'.

Some of my friends are amazed at this as I am a huge animal lover.

I often go with my friend shooting, for pheasant,pigeon, duck and rabbit.

I have killed chickens, plucked them and then ate them, and they do taste better as I put the work into the preparation.

Earlier this year I bought a lamb to fatten and then eat, she tasted lovely, I put this down to her being well fed and treated well.

Later this year I will be buying a piglet to fatten for Xmas.

I do draw the line at people hunting but not eating what they kill, or shooting endangered animals.

cbr_paul From: cbr_paul Date: April 21st, 2009 10:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting point about the satisfaction of rearing animals yourself, but how do you slaughter the larger animals, especially pigs? They can be very strong and are quite dangerous to slaughter without assistance and training.
voodoolou From: voodoolou Date: April 21st, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is against the law to slaughter sheep/goats, pigs, cows and horses without a being trained in slaughtering and usually a licensed vet is present.
My animals are taken to the local butcher who holds a Defra approved slaughtermans license.
He handles them really well and tries to relax them, he only does about a dozen animals a week as he finds they are less distressed. After every animal, he cleans the slaughter room of waste, before the next animal comes through.

xarrion From: xarrion Date: April 20th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Short of metaphysical quandaries, up until the point that my sandwich accuses me of being a hypocrite, I'm quite happy with it having achieved it's raison d'etre.
ephrael From: ephrael Date: April 21st, 2009 06:57 am (UTC) (Link)
The whole "we don't know what our food looks like" is a product of our industrially developed society.
The same thing that means we aren't all farming means we can have trained doctors, and the electrical grid.
Not knowing how to catch and slaughter animals (or indeed potatoes) is one thing, but total lack of awareness of the means of production is another.

I'm a prime example - raised sub-urban, I can recognise animals and vegetables fine, but unless you are recognising that carrots are living things too, I've never killed something to eat it.
Learning to kill what I eat is on my list of things to do one day.

elrohana From: elrohana Date: April 21st, 2009 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I have never killed to eat, but I have in recent years learned to put small creatures out of their misery, due to having 2 hunter-killer-subs masquerading as domestic cats. I am well aware of the source of my steak, and how it lives and dies, and if it came to it, I would kill to eat. However as someone who in the last couple of years has started to 'grow her own' and lives near a number of farms, I am aware I know more than most people. I've considered going on one of these courses where you learn to kill and prepare your own rabbits etc, just so I know I can do it. I expect to live to at least 80, and they say the collapse of society could happen in the next 30 years, so its probably worth a shot.
kalkyrie From: kalkyrie Date: April 21st, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
The idea behind this post (or the emotions, to be more accurate) are why I've been a vegetarian from since I was young. That and the fact that childMe didn't see the point of eating meat.
(I'm not perfect though- where the hell can you get non-leather shoes from?)

Oddly enough, I know that there are some animals (pigs, etc) which are only alive because we wish to eat them (unlike cows or chickens which can be raised for milk or eggs). So my logical brain says that eating their flesh is the only thing which causes them to live.

Of course, this doesn't change my emotions, or the fact that I'm not going to be eating bacon sandwiches any time soon. *shrug* Humans aren't logical.
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