Thursday, 24 March 2016

A matter of life and death

Hello. Just something I think about at this time of year. Spring conjures up idyllic scenes of rolling green fields full of mummy sheep and gambolling lambs. A lovely sight to see when I am walking through the countryside. 
In my neck of the woods we have small farms and country estates, advertising a series of open weekends for families to go along and see close up the cute lambs, with the possibility of seeing one actually being born. How exciting is that. A real treat and an opportunity to introduce small children to love animals.

Come Sunday lunch time when the meat and two veg is served up, I don't suspect for one minute that the kiddywinks associate the slices of roasted flesh on their plate, with the fluffy lambs they saw in the field. It seems hypocritical to me that on one hand we are encouraged to go oooh, and aaah when we see fluffy baby animals that we want to take home with us, and on the other hand we are not encouraged to visit slaughter houses where all the blood and guts are laid bare.

The pieces of flesh bought ready packaged on a neat polystyrene tray from a supermarket bare no resemblance to an animal chewing the cud in a field. I want to see slaughter houses have open days where the actual killing of the animal is on view to the public. We can see them at the beginning of their lives, why not the end? If people can stomach that, then they are entitled to eat meat. If the thought of viewing the moment of death sickens them then they shouldn't be eating meat. You can guess what I am going to say next. I couldn't watch an animal being slaughtered.

Change of topic for today, keep it fresh. Your thoughts are welcome, but no preaching, we are all different and have our own opinions. This is mine, you do what you like.

Thanks for popping in. We'll catch up soon. Toodle pip.
 

50 comments:

  1. Yes it's right about the hypocrisy. I haven't eaten meat since last year but my family are all carnivores so I'm guilty of buying and cooking it. I make them eat less of it but buy free range/organic when I shop. I suppose this lightens my conscience if I feel the animals were raised in a kinder way.

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  2. The thing is many people would go to a slaughter house and watch rather than give up eating meat. People are very capable of cutting off emotional responses - if they even have any. They would prefer not to but many people could do it and would rather than giving up meat. I have people in my family who profess to love animals (lots of sentiment about them) but they still eat them because they don't like to engage with thinking too much about the issue. Some people would view slaughter houses open to the public as a spectator sport.

    I think that choosing not to eat meat is often not an emotive response, as most people cut this off as they don't want to give up something they enjoy. So, it's lets look at the cute lambs and then go home to a roast lamb dinner. When people do stop eating meat, it is more an intellectual choice. Most people don't like thinking about things which involve unpleasant thoughts, so they never come close to giving up meat.

    When people do, it is usually because they have thought it out for themselves or they see non judgemental examples to follow with people who share nice food with them and they realise it is possible without any hardship at all. People are very defensive when hearing any well put arguments about it, because that is what we are all like - reactively oppositional.

    As to the no preaching. Not sure if I manage that in my comment and yours too. I think it goes with the territory that people will see it that way.

    I do however, see it as important and I do care about the choices others make. It is though, not for me to decide for them and in real life I don't mention it unless asked. Vegetarians come in for a lot of ridicule and bullying in life. Never mind. This is one area in my life where I know I have made a positive difference. Every chicken I have not eaten is a life. A chicken is a small animal and people kill and eat hundreds of them. I am glad not to be responsible. I have not eaten literally hundreds of animals. The reason for me at heart is quite basic. I don't need to so I don't. The ending of a life for a few hours of my own bodily sustenance when I don't need to makes no sense to me. If I lived in the artic where the only food is seals then that would be different.

    I have more respect for those who eat rabbits that were living free and happy lives before the hunter ended it, than those who condone battery conditions and pass on the responsibility to others. It is actually farming that I am so against.

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  3. Yet you feed this same flesh to your animals? Not quiet getting that? Kind regards, carol

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    1. There is no choice BUT to feed meat to cats, they have to have meat in their diets to survive healthily. Dogs can manage on a vegetarian lifestyle very well but they prefer not to. At least the meat that ends up in the petfood cans is what is left over from that of human consumption and I doubt humans will never comp;letely give up on their dead flesh eating. This from a non meat eating person with a cat and three dogs!!

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    2. As Sue says. The parts of the animal that go into pet food is generally the part which humans don't eat. I don't expect my pets to be vegetarian, they don't understand what that is.

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    3. There IS a choice Sue, see my comment below.

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  4. I agree 100%. I eat less and less meat these days and have for several periods in my life been vegetarian. If I had to kill an animal to have meat I would definitely be vegetarian, so what is it that by letting someone else do the killing, it is okay to eat it?
    Like you I feel it's up to others to decide what is right for them, but perhaps a visit to a slaughterhouse, would make them reconsider what they ate.

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  5. Glorious photo Ilona. This is quite a deep and tricky topic: two sides to every story. On the one hand livestock farming has been a 'tradition' for millennia and harsh as though it sounds, employs thousands of people with all the associated industries. On the other hand, the justification of eating flesh can be hard to support as eating a vegetarian diet is not deemed harmful (could be argued quite the opposite) and has the emotional element attached of ingesting animals reared for market. As you say, Ilona, it is the individual's choice but I do hope that intensively-reared animals and battery farming is stopped forthwith. A final point, I very much doubt the abattoirs would be warmly welcoming coach loads of the public to witness the 'final act' of the animals' demise; too gruesome. Amanda

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  6. Here here, I don't eat meat either but my husband does. I have just this moment come off the phone after complaining to a local meat company that one of their pork pies is called a "SQUEALER", I pointed out that this is in very poor taste as those intelligent , lovely animals squeal for their lives whilst waiting to be slaughtered! They smell the fear and the blood and it's a horrible sound!

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    1. Hi Christine. When I was a teenager I worked at a sausage factory which was just behind our house. The pigs came in on a lorry on a Sunday night, the squealing was awful, it upset me. I had to leave the job.

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  7. I have been a vegetarian since a little girl. Natalie

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  8. I grew up in a family of hunters, fishermen, and gardeners with BIG gardens. I am not against people eating meat. It does bother me to see people WASTE meat. Scraping food off your plate and into the trash, or allowing meat to "go off" to me is inexcusable. If an animal gave it's life so that you can have food to eat, you don't waste it. We like to be as self-sufficient as possible and there's no way we could grow enough food to feed our families with just a garden. For us, hunting and fishing is a necessity. BUT, I do see your point of view and respect it. And I agree that if more people were forced to "see where food comes from", there would probably be a lot more vegetarians out there.

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  9. I think we live in a very 'white washed' world where anything to do with death is not talked about and hushed up. Children need to be educated about where ALL their food comes from. Sadly few non-rural children know that vegetables grow in the earth and that spaghetti doesn't grow on trees, it really is THAT bad.

    I don't eat meat and haven't for about seven years now, chicken was the last thing I gave up not surprisingly enough after getting chickens of our own. Once you see chickens living their happy lives, forming friendships with each other and being inconsolable at the natural death of one of their close friends you quickly lose the urge to have one of them on your plate, let alone in your mouth.

    My Lovely Hubby has no such qualms and had to put up with me saying 'he's some slices of Betty' (our first slaughtered pig) every time I made him a bacon butty. He says I'm not to name the pigs we will be getting in the near future .... but I think I will. While they are with us they will be having the best that life can give them, and that includes a much longer life than any mass produced meat animal AND a name.

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  10. Ilona, just wanted to tell you...a while ago I said I was wanting to reduce the amount of meat we eat and I have to say we (as a family) have transitioned into vegetarianism effortlessly and do not miss it at all. I certainly feel healthier as a result and our food costs have gone down.

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    1. Well done, Deborah. That's good to hear.

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  11. You've opened a can of worms here Ilona.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Yes, I do from time to time. Keeps you on your toes ;o)

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  12. The only animal I've personally killed is a fish. As a three year old I sat by my grandmother and helped her pluck the chicken she'd just killed. I've spent my life eating animals I've helped to rear. I'm a farmer's daughter. My children also ate animals they grew up playing with. My grandsons haven't yet had that opportunity but they both eat meat. Are we bad people? I don't think so. We farmed organically, we left our young animals with their mother and siblings until the time came for them to travel to the small, local abbatoir whose owner was a friend of my uncle's. We husband the land and offer the opportunity to share its peace with others from the cities. I respect those who choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and will always cook accordingly if they visit. I have spent my life supporting and campaigning for those who found it difficult to negotiate services on their own. We use all our meat, we value it, as our ancestors did before us. We are all different with different ethoses and ethics and all should be respected.

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    1. Hi Sarah - I am staying well out of this topic, but want to thank you for posting about your own experience with a respectful way to raise animals and steward the land.

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  13. Hear, hear, Ilona. People should have the right to see how the product they are eating was produced, killed, etc. I haven't eaten meat since the age of 13 as I used to 'befriend' the cows in the field behind a relative's house. One week they weren't there and it did reasonate with me when I was called in for Sunday lunch what was on my plate. Couldn't eat it then. I respect people like Gordon Ramsey who raised there own livestock to eat. Not that I could but at least they know and accept what they are eating.

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  14. From Margie in Toronto - While I am a meat eater (although a lot less these days) I do respect others point of view. My father taught us that if you hunted or fished then all of the animal should be put to use - wasting food was a sin and an insult to the animal.
    A few years ago I went to the Royal Agricultural Fair here in Toronto - its a large "country" fair held each year here in the city - the schools take thousands of kids each year and I had volunteered to help a teacher friend with her class. I was assigned 5 kids, 3 boys & 2 girls all around 8 or 9 years old. It was a fun day but also enlightening - one of them asked me why one of the big supermarkets was sponsoring one of the beef cattle we were looking at and I explained that this would be their dinner in a few weeks - cries of horror all round - they truly had no idea. A bit later we were watching a sheep being sheared - there were cries of "that sheep's naked"! Children really do need to be educated - most of them make no connection between the food on their plate and the animals in the field - which is wrong! If you are going to eat meat then you should truly understand where that food is coming from.

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  15. Stopped eating meat 5 weeks ago. I couldn't continue eating animals, it was like taking the red pill in the matrix, the only thing I feel bad about is not becoming vegetarian years ago. I so totally agree that if people saw the truth of intensive farming and the realities of the slaughterhouse there would be an outcry and a lot more vegetarians. Bless you for bringing this to attention - Tam

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  16. Excellent post...I agree the huge disconnect between what is sold in stores and where it comes from. I think the discussion is important. I eat less and less animal based food, because I am one of those hypocrites - I would have a very tough time killing a lamb, chicken or pig, but do enjoy eating them. At least recently there is now certified humane chicken and pork available - makes you wonder about the alternative. It is some movement in the right direction.

    Many species and breeds of domestic livestock would cease to exist if they did not provide utility (a source of food) to man. Also prey species have evolved to be eaten, the food chain is meant to be that way. Certain animals are meant to be the food source for higher level consumers. Cats are obligate carnivores through evolution, and need to eat other animals to survive.

    I'm teaching a younger adult friend to grow vegetables - she thought cucumbers grew under the ground, like potatoes or carrots!!!

    I think greater awareness and respect for our food sources are important.

    Cheers,
    Jake

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  17. Hell Ilona. I'm a vegetarian as are all of my family. In the past we were meat eaters and ate our own animals that we had raised on our small farm. The day that we could no longer face killing the animals here was when we became vegetarian. Health wise I don't think it has had much of an impact on us as we didn't eat a lot of meat before but it has been so nice to have the sheep and cattle and poultry here and know that they are not destined for that fate.
    I really do agree that if you eat meat you should be able to face the reality of where it comes from and the processes involved. I can't ever see a slaughter house having an open day though. It would be a hygiene and safety issue I suppose. The 'River Cottage' programs have showed a small slaughterhouse in operation which is 'good' to see and then there is Food Inc. which has some horrible large scale abattoirs which is really unpleasant.
    Thanks for your post.

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    1. Hi Tracy. I remember getting two cockerel chicks off the rag and bone man when we were small. We reared them as pets (Pinky and Perky), in the back garden. One day mum sent us out to play when one was killed for dinner. I remember seeing it hanging up being plucked, next thing it was on our dinner plates. We were in tears. Mum said we had to eat it, but I couldn't.

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  18. I've been a vegetarian for 35 years. It's wrong to say that cats can't be vegetarian - I've fed my dogs and cats a vegetarian diet for over 30 years. They have all lived a long and healthy life, right now I've got 5 dogs and 4 cats, my oldest dog is 16 and my oldest cat is 19, both still very active and healthy.

    Cats do need Vitamin A and taurine, there are supplements specially developed for cats to provide this. There are also supplements for dogs if needed.

    A good website with information about cats and dogs being vegetarian is Peta.org

    Regarding the comment above saying that dogs prefer to eat meat, this again isn't true, when on holiday with friends who fed their dogs meat we fed them all at the same time, our dogs sniffed at the other food then turned away from it and ate their own vegetarian meals!

    Much of the dog and cat food commercially available is made from animal parts that are deemed to be unfit for human consumption, from diseased animals.

    By the way - how many people who are vegetarian own leather bags and wear leather shoes? People can be hypocrites without realising it.


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    1. There is also the issue of drinking cow's milk that needs to be taken into consideration if you are vegetarian.
      Arilx

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    2. I am trying to cut down. I don't drink cows milk any more, but I do have yogurt and cheese, and yes, I do feel guilty.

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    3. I wouldn't call the people who own leather bags and shoes, hypocrites. The cow has already been killed to make these items. If people stopped putting meat into their mouths there would be no leather. People are not suddenly going to turn into vegans overnight, it's a gradual process which first has to start with researching where their meat is reared and killed.

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    4. I agree about the leather issues, its iffy if you are claiming to a vegetarian because you love/respect animals and are walking round covered in their dead skin.
      A genuine vegetarian you would think would be repelled.
      The egg milk cheese issues take a little longer to sink in especially as the animals are left alive for a while.
      I don't want to profit from an creature that lives a short exploited life and dies in terror pain and confusion.
      I don't wear wool anymore either for this reason.
      Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, not religious btw but it's a great quote.
      I found the film Ganhdi and his life story really inspirational. I'm trying to live the rest of my live by causing a little damage as I can and continuing to help my animal charity's.
      Animals are not ours.






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  19. Ilona, I wonder how you view the eating of fish given your views on eating meat? I noticed in your archives you said you ate fish.

    Have a lovely Easter, the forecast says fine tomorrow but rain on Saturday.

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    1. Hi Peggy. If you look back into the archives you will see that I did eat fish. I only ever ate a little, salmon and tuna, but now I don't. I stopped over two years ago.

      Lovely start to Good Friday, the sun is out.

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  20. I eat meat.
    Will not feel guilty about it.
    Only reason lambs are in the fields are they are food, not pets.
    Humans are omnivores eat animals and plants.
    You eat eggs which are potential baby chickens
    Cottage cheese and yogurt means confining and milking cows you have no problem with that!. Research that!. Cruel milking circles.
    Cows tied up in a circle never seeing light of day walking in a circle all their life to produce milk.
    Lambs have a more free life, OK shorter.

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    1. Hi Kirrie. I do have a problem with that, I feel guilty. One day I will make the change to non dairy.

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    2. Hi again, have you tried almond milk Ilona? You can buy it everywhere these days but it's really easy to make yourself and then the pulp from the almonds can be used too so no waste.

      It's not as easy to be a vegan as it is to be vegetarian but there are lots of non dairy alternatives around these days. But you do have to be more careful about nutrients too.

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  21. hi, ilona, my comments do not relate to the topic of vegetarianism 1'm afraid. I cant seem to contact you any other way and something has been playing on my mind. recently I found your blog and began reading- loving it! I am a 32 year old mother of 2 girls and a boy and I live in Australia, my eldest girl is 12 now and hates everything about herself, so when I read your posts about hating your face I was surprised ( because I think you are gorgeous and I really like you face!) but then I was able to relate my child's feelings to your words and feelings and it has helped us become closer some how, so after all that long- winded waffle I just wanted to say thanks, so thanks! :)tegan

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    1. Hello. I'm glad my posts have been helpful to you. If you want to tell me more about your daughter you can email me the address is on the side bar, disguised to deter spammers.

      ilona dot meanqueen at gmail dot com. Close gaps, insert . and @

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  22. I've enjoyed reading this post and comments. Here's a story about a vegan who married a cattle rancher: http://news.therawfoodworld.com/vegan-transformations/

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    1. Love this article, thanks Lilly's Mom.

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  23. Hi There I read your blog every day have done for the last two years you speak so much sense and yet again your are 100% right with your view on eating meat Lins

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  24. A very thought provoking post. I have a great respect for your ideals and the way you put them across. I am very concerned about the way the animals are slaughtered but even more concerned about the Halal method which of course is worse but cannot be mentioned due to PC. That's a whole other can of worms.

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  25. Interesting post and comments. I always think about these as first world issues. I grew up in in the other one in a place with 6 months of winter and salaries about $30 dollars a months. Vegetarianism was not a concept i new. We eat food and were greatful for it. The main fat available was lard, meat was prescious. We all had some sort of backyard 'farm'. I new how to slaughter chickens, ducks and so on by the age of 12. I did not enjoy it but that was it. There was no Tesco to get your tofu or chickpeas or ,ha ha, quorn, or other interesting pulses to suplement your vegetarian diet. And of course no fancy vitamins or suplements. Dogs and cats were fed leftovers and meat from special butchers that sold meat not fit for human consumption. Though some people eat it because they could not afford the normal one. And of course there was no such a thing as year round fresh fruit and veg! I do not believe vegetrianism is the right way for everybody or even sensible because i am always mindful of the people in real poverty who need to rely on what they can produce localy. Local food, people connected with food production whether it is an apple or a lamb, as we would not need such over production of food if we eat all that we produce or bring home.

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  26. I've seen lots of great comments and just want to weigh in...while I myself am a plant-based eater (due to some health issues) my husband and kids are not and we don't make a big deal out of it. The way I see it, humans have been eating meat and dairy for millennium but the real health problems associated with these food choices only seem to arise after World War 2. This is when companies took over food production and began mass producing food and adding all kinds of chemicals for preservatives. People also began eating meat and dairy at every meal instead of in small portions and sporadically. I think the problem isn't the food itself but the way it is raised/made/consumed. We shouldn't feel guilty about food itself but maybe we should take a harder look at our choices and our consumption habits and see if what we eat really matches up with our values and our desire for the future of our planet.

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    1. We should feel guilty,
      People had other people for slaves for hundreds of years that does not mean they should have just gone on having human slaves because it was a long tradition and it was convenient to one party.

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  27. Good thoughts about the slaughter house tours. I may offend some here, but I agree with you, Ilona, and I am a meat eater. We have raised chickens and rabbits for years (for our own consumption) in our back yard, and done our own slaughtering and packaging. We have also bought live pigs, and cows and done our own slaughtering and butchering there as well. In addition, we have occasionally bagged a moose or deer, during hunting season (with the appropriate licenses and tags). All to provide our own meat over the last nearly 40 years. No one in my family takes any delight in the slaughter, and we actually approach that part of the meat processing with respect for the animal, and reverence for the gift that is life. My point is though, that many have criticised us for raising and eating our own animals, having either superior attitudes or selective squeamishness, but then go out and will eat fast food meats or deli delights without batting an eye. They are very disconnected from their food sources, and what must be accomplished or sacrificed to bring them their dinner. I respect those who choose not to eat meat after seeing the process of how that protein would end up on their plate. I also believe that those who hunt or raise their own meat, and then slaughter and butcher it for themselves, have a deep respect and regard for the animals and the circle of life. Nothing is wasted in our family nor in the families of others we know who do the same. We never kill and animal that we then do not eat, except in self defence (we live in the wilder part of northern Canada. That is bear country). It is all too easy to become sanitized or complacent about our food, and where it all comes from. Thanks for the post. Mary Jane in Canada.

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  28. Ive always been honest with my daughter about where meat comes from and will be the same with the youngest as she gets older. The eldest knows that animals die to give us meat, no point in pussyfooting around it in my opinion. Saying that, we don't eat a huge amount of meat in this house. We just can't afford it! The eldest is autistic and struggles with food a lot so turkey and chicken are the meats we have most often, but even then not a lot. If I make something with minced beef it is usually bulked out with a bag of quorn mince (or shop equivalent), or lentils and chickpeas. We almost never have beef (like roast beef) or lamb, I can't actually remember the last time I bought lamb!

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