To better explain myself

A few people dear to my heart have recently called and emailed me, urging me to reconsider raising meat animals. In the face of their monumental disappointment in me, I feel I should better explain my motives. Raising meat animals is not fun. Nor is it easy. It is a difficult and strenuous road that I am considering for ethical and ecological reasons. Here is what I wrote to them.

First, I must stress that raising my own animals is, and has always been, hypothetical. I do not have any animals now, and while I am experimenting with the idea of raising various species in the future, the commitment of raising livestock is not to be taken lightly. It may never happen, especially with the larger animals like goats and pigs – right now it’s looking like just chickens for eggs. If I were to raise meat animals, when the time came for harvesting, I do not know yet if I would be able to follow through. So none of this might happen at all.

And now let me explain a little of why I am thinking of taking this step towards self-sustainability at all.

I feel that if I am going to keep eating meat, I should take some responsibility for it and understand where it comes from, suffer the trials and tribulations of raising it myself, make sure that the animals have the most fulfilling lives possible, even allowing them to breed, and finally consume their meat with the utmost respect. Raising animals is not only time-consuming and expensive, but harvesting them is, I’ve been told, always extremely difficult. Of course you grow attached to them. I want to stress that raising and harvesting my own animals is NOT the easy choice. And it SHOULD be difficult – consuming the gift of another life should not be as casual as walking into a store and picking up a neatly packaged item off a shelf. Nothing strikes me as quite so hypocritical as the consumer who refuses to take the responsibility of taking an animal’s life, but is happy to consume their meat.

Here are some of the reasons why I feel that raising my own animals would be an ethically superior option to that of buying commercially-raised meat:

1) a commitment to HUMANELY raised animals, meaning well-rounded diets, caring interaction, a free-range existence, constant treats, and happy lives.
2) ORGANIC and SUSTAINABLE practices that benefit the land and the animals both, by a) rotating small scale groups (if I even had more than one), and b) the individual animal’s ability to supplement their diet with wild foraging in our woods, satisfying their natural instincts, and c) closed-cycle farming, which means that everything is incorporated back into the cycle of life; waste goes back to nurture the soil that nurtures the animals. No huge dumpsters taking piles of poop out to be dumped in the ocean.
3) eating LOCAL in order to prevent unecessary carbon footprints caused by shipping meat, and the environmental degradation caused by large-scale farms. You can’t get any more local than your back yard.
4) RESPECT for the gift of these animal’s lives, in ensuring them a pain-and-terror-free death and a careful husbandry of everything they have provided. No part of an animal that I have raised would go to waste.
5) a SELF-SUFFICIENCY that depends on no outside commercial source in order to sustain the continuance of the circle of life.

Compare that to store-bought meat – from sad, terrified animals kept in cages little bigger than their bodies, force-fed through tubes to make them as fat as possible. If I am going to eat meat either way, is that the better choice? As I do not have the money to buy organic free-range meat, and am not going to go vegetarian with Josh and a growing baby around, my only other two options are to supplement the inhumane practices, ecologically detrimental runoffs, and large carbon footprints of the farm industry, OR to raise animals myself with ecologically sound practices and at least be able to ensure that they lead happy lives and are not killed needlessly or wasted.

I highly value your esteem, and am sorry that you’re disappointed in me. I cannot stress enough that I am thinking of doing this for ecological and humane reasons, and I am disappointed that you do not see it as the better option, and understand how difficult it is. I hope I have explained myself somewhat.

2 Responses to “To better explain myself”

  1. Aaron M Says:

    Liberal guilt is one of the great luxuries of the western world.

  2. debbie swickard Says:

    You ROCK!!!!!

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