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Huffington Guest Blogger: Killing Your Own Meat

August 27, 2009

Wow, the below link is a fascinating article about getting your meat right from the source – raising your own chickens and killing them for dinner.  It’s something I’ve thought a lot about, namely, how much I don’t want to do it, but feel I should be willing to.

You are forewarned: this is a very introspective blog post for me. Some strong opinions, some soapboxing, some insecurity.  Don’t go any farther if you’re not interested. ;)

I feel very hypocritical about my carnivorous tendencies.  I can’t deny them, to a certain extent.  I’m a Puerto Rican who grew up in a very Puerto Rican household, which means more pork and chicken than you can shake a stick at.  (BTW, what does “shake a stick at” mean anyway? I’ve always wondered). Pernil was a common “event” meal – by which I mean, an event was any time we had more than immediate family in the house.

To this day, I can never order chicken when I go out. It’s too “common” to me – and when I was younger, we didn’t go out very much, so I always wanted to get something I wouldn’t get every day at home.  Steak, seafood – that was living!

Since taking my Animal Law class last year, and becoming vegetarian for about 6 months, I carry enormous guilt about those meat-eating tendencies.  I’ve tried to assuage them by at least forbearing on fast food and eating local meat, but in my head, it’s not enough.

Part of it is that I love pets.  My cats, and growing up we always had dogs – I would (obviously) never eat one of them.  How can I justify it to myself that they are “untouchable” but other animals are fair game?  One of my friends is vegan, and he has a quote on his Facebook page (not sure who said it) – “If you love animals called pets, why do you eat animals called dinner?”

Kinda sorta true.

Another friend of mine is a “vegetarian,” by which she defines it as refusing to eat anything she wouldn’t be able to kill herself.  For instance, she’s ok with eating fish occasionally (perhaps it depends on the fish).  Beef, she couldn’t do it, so she wouldn’t eat it.  Same thing with chickens.  I generally like that “standard.”

My problem is that, I try to live my life by the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  I try to not be rude to people, but you better believe that if someone’s rude to me, I have no problem giving it right back to them.  Mmm…very much eye for an eye, huh?

So, in regards to that, I generally worry about my hypocrisy in eating meat for much the same reason as Goodman writes in her last line, “at the same time…what if robots descended upon earth and decided to farm us? I might not like it.”

No, I’m pretty darn sure I wouldn’t like it.  And that’s why I feel a pang of regret every time I take a bite (like of that delicious lamb we had Tuesday night).  Some people think animals were put on the earth just for us.  That’s fine for them.  I don’t happen to be one of those people.  I tend to think that the majority of people today (majority, not all) would become vegetarian if they were suddenly responsible for the killing of the animal that they ate.  At the very least, the amount of meat consumed would decrease dramatically.  It sure as hell would for me.

But at the same time, I don’t necessarily begrudge hunters who hunt for food (I definitely begrudge hunting for sport).  I just happen to think that many (again, not all) enjoy the kill.  I don’t mean they’re salivating over bloodlust.  But much like is described in the article here:

It’s not an easy thing to watch a chicken slaughter. While it may be common knowledge there’s post-mortem thrashing–ever heard of “like a chicken with it’s head cut off”?–seeing it live can be a bit gruesome. But unlike a public prisoner execution, we were there to celebrate the chicken’s life, and what it had to offer us. And what better way to experience death for the first time. There was no: “take that, you sucker!” No proving our cultural masculinity, nor prowess. Therese was as careful and as kind as could be as she cooed to the bird, and quick as a wink in her execution with the knife. There was no suffering or stress on the bird, and it died in a habitat it’s come to know quite well, with familiar smells and familiar views.

And I think that’s what I think of when hunting comes to mind.  Sure, you may eat that animal, but I tend to think that for hunters, there’s a certain joy in killing as well.  I don’t feel joy in death.  It may have to be done, but I would rather it be done like the way Native Americans supposedly used to do it, by praying for and thanking the animal for what it was about to give them.  Its life.

Am I weird in feeling that way? Probably. And obviously, I’m a big ol’ hypocrite because I have eaten meat much of this year.  But I’m not entirely comfortable, and maybe one day, I’ll change.

Killing Chickens at Home: Would You Do It?

Guest post by Makenna Goodman, Chelsea Green Publishing

Last night, we had fourteen people over for dinner. And they wanted chicken. Good thing we had some…but they were running around. And so it was–all in the name of well balanced meals–farm life came down to its grittiest.

I live and work on a farm in central Vermont, and there’s always family around. That means a lot of emotional turmoil (and joy, ehem), a lot of secretly chugging whiskey in the closet (not really, but really), and best of all–extra hands. No one visits without pitching in. And now that it’s late August, the farm work is at its peak. Harvesting, preserving food for winter, and chicken killing.

Read the rest at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/25/killing-chickens-at-home_n_268663.html

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2009 3:30 pm

    I’m with you Chelle. I like my meat but don’t think I could kill it. In fact I watched a cow be slaughtered in Brazil and really don’t like to think of eating beef much any more.

    Meat consumption would go down dramatically if we had to return to what our forefathers did. Instead we’ve become soft because the stuff at the grocery doesn’t resemble the furry cow or cute pig. I know my ancestors used meat as a spice more than a main dish.

    But I do love some pernil…so I’m a big hypocrite in this aspect.

  2. August 28, 2009 2:56 pm

    Oh how I’ve struggled with these same thoughts.

    I don’t think I could kill my own chickens cuz I’d probz fall in love with them. But I know DH could do it. He grew up hunting and I can assure you that he took no pleasure in the kill. There’s an adrenaline rush in the hunt itself, but the kill is far different…at least for him.

    It would be cool to have chickens for the eggs though!

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