Posted by: conradvisionquest | June 18, 2010

Raising Animals for Meat

I grew up in South Florida.  This meant we had a boat, and did some diving and fishing.  When we would go fishing, I remember putting my pole in at the front of the boat, while everyone else fished off the back.  When I caught a fish, I would make sure no one was watching, and throw it back into the ocean.  I didn’t want the fish to end up as our dinner, but I also wanted to fit in by pretending to enjoy fishing.  Of course, I couldn’t save all the fish.  But I saved the ones I was catching.

I often wonder how hard you would have to be to raise your own animals for meat.  I don’t know how you could raise an animal from birth, take care of it, watch it grow, and then send it off to it’s death.  I came across an article on Grist entitled “Being prepared- to grow your own meat” that caught my attention.  Even the title is intriguing.  Grow your own meat?  It sounds as if the meat is growing from a petri dish or out of the ground like a flower.  No face, no mother, no will to live.  But it’s talking about raising sheep/lambs for meat, and the problem that is created when you become attached to the animals. 

The author talks about the idea of eating the meat that she raised herself.  “I don’t think I’ve ever met a live animal whose path to my plate was so direct.”  I believe this illustrates the huge disconnect that most Americans have with their food.  No one knows (do they even care?) where their food comes from.  I know I didn’t a few years ago.  But now that I am asking that question, I don’t know why it took me so long to ask it.  It seems like the most important thing- food – the very thing that we are made of.  It seems that everyone would want to know what their own bodies are made from. 

When speaking about “humane animal treatment and slaughter,” the article’s author states “it frustrates me that people can be so complacent about practices that cause such harm to animals, people and the environment.”  Um, I think slaughter would fall into the “harm to animals” category.  The author continues:

The expectation of eventual death also reminds me to live in the moment with my sheep that much more. Knowing that today might be the last time I can easily catch my new lamb, I held him just a little longer than I had to before he scrambled away to his mother’s side.” 

Wha?  It seems as if the author is experiencing a bit of moral schizophrenia.   She adds:

“But livestock aren’t pets. They are on a farm because they serve a purpose. If I can’t raise an animal to eat, then I shouldn’t keep sheep whose purpose is to become meat. Furthermore, if I can’t eat meat that came from an animal I know was loved and respected, that had a good life playing in the sun and eating grass, then I should go back to being vegetarian.”

Who decides what an animal’s purpose is?  Why isn’t it a dog’s purpose to eventually be turned into my dinner?  I guess that depends what your agenda is.  Here their purpose is to be sold for meat, because that’s what the “meat farmer” decided it is. 

I also have a big problem with the use of the word “respect” in this paragraph.  Hello, I have great respect for you.  Now I am going to slit your throat while your blood drains from your body as you hang upside down.  Oh, and by the way, I really appreciate you “giving” your life up so I can have lamb for Easter.

It’s almost like you would have to convince your head that something is right, when your heart is telling you that it’s very, very wrong.  I don’t understand why people don’t just follow their hearts.

My advice for the author:  Follow your heart.

Note: For those concerned about family farms who have made their living in the meat industry for generations, check out Farmer Brown’s website, which is a resource for farmers who want to make the transition from animal based to plant based agriculture. 



  1. I had the same reaction and questions as you when I read that article a few days ago. Did you read the comments thread? It blows my mind that people who raise animals, who birth them and care for them and have genuine affection for them, can still push all of that aside so they have something tasty to throw on the grill.

  2. Whoops I posted this on the wrong post:

    A lot of people I know are into the local thing more than the vegan/vegetarian thing. For them, saying that their meat is “local” seems to make them feel better about eating it. I even had one friend try to make the argument that “they’re all going to die anyway.” Yeah, I know. Sure, from an environmental standpoint, I guess local meat is better than factory meat, but the local argument misses the point entirely.

    And how the author here can differentiate between pets and farm animals is beyond me. One of the main reasons that I went vegan is because I don’t see a difference. Looking into a cow’s eyes is the same as looking into my cats’ eyes. That’s all I needed to convince myself to stop eating meat.

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