Archive for February 2013

kebab-on-skewers

Just a couple of the questions discussed in The Mindful Carnivore by Tovar Cerulli, a hunter–turned vegan–turned hunter again. Mr. Cerulli, after having been raised around hunting and fishing, decided in his early adulthood that he had had enough killing, and became a strict vegan. After some time he felt that consuming meat would benefit his health and began hunting again. His personal journey is interesting and raises some important issues and questions about the nature of our food and how we come by it. After all, we live in a drive-through, microwavable, shrink-wrapped society, and many of us, even those of us who are vegetarian or vegan, are fairly far removed from the production of the food that sustains us. We consume food items without knowing the amount of work (and sadly, suffering) required to produce it. The vast majority of meat-eaters would unlikely be willing to do the hands on killing necessary for that steak or barbequed chicken. Many of us are blissfully unaware of the enormous impact of our daily choices on the lives of animals, the water supply, the environment, and the global economy. I am a long-time vegetarian, and even though it was not one of the reasons compelling me to that choice years ago, my refusal to kill an animal in order to eat it certainly would deter me from consuming meat again, even if I wanted to (which I do not). There are many issues worth considering in any diet – animal suffering, environmental damage and pollution, health effects, cost, sustainability, and personal ethics. We may make different choices about what we eat, but all of us should make those choices after thoughtful deliberation and serious soul searching. By the way, this book was a gift to me from my brother, who is a food hunter, and while I could never hunt myself, I would prefer that those who wish to enjoy meat have the complete awareness of the creature they are about to consume as sustenance. At least hunters are willing to look their food in the eye first.

So—-what’s for dinner at your house?

photo by Petr Kratochvil via publicdomainpictures.net

A very sad story out of North Stonington, Connecticut. Two cows on a family farm were shot, the suspects being three youths known to law enforcement in the area. After being shot and left for dead, one of the poor creatures had a jaw so mangled that euthanasia was necessary. Charges, including animal cruelty charges, are being prepared and arrests are expected soon. The investigation is being handled by the Connecticut State Police.

While I am disgusted at the wanton cruelty inflicted by these individuals and encouraged by the inclusion of animal cruelty charges, I can’t help but wonder about the status of cows in general. Cows are considered farm animals, and farm animals, much like laboratory animals, are treated with different guidelines than our companion animals. In other words, if someone did to a neighborhood dog the kinds of things that happen in slaughterhouses all over the country, they would no doubt be charged with animal cruelty, possibly as a felony (and I am NOT suggesting they shouldn’t). So these cows, while on the farm, are protected, but once they are on the way to being killed (I believe the industry term is “processed”), they are under less protection. Of course even farmed animals are supposed to be killed by humane methods of slaughter, but one only needs to do a quick internet search to discover that significant numbers of animals are subjected to horrifying torture to their physical bodies while they often remain conscious. Some even survive parts of the slaughter process. So for me, this begs the following questions: What defines the cruelty? Is it the intent of the killer, or the outcome for the victim? Is it governed by the location of the one killed (e.g., slaughterhouse vs. farm vs. back yard)? And what about the above mentioned fact regarding the horrors that routinely occur in slaughterhouses? One could (quite easily, in my view) argue that since the meat production industry fails regularly to provide humane deaths, that the entire industry is inherently cruel. Why are killers of cows shot on the farm charged with animal cruelty while the industry that stuns, bleeds, skins, and dismembers billions of land animals each year in the United States is left to continue on its way unimpeded?