Life and death and livestock

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I wouldn’t have remembered the year, but Google reminded me that it was in 1995 that the enviably talented Cherry Jones played Catherine Sloper in the Lincoln Center production of “The Heiress.”

The play, and Washington Square, the Henry James novel on which it’s based, are about a plain young woman who is very rich and her father, a brilliant doctor who prevents her from marrying a charming fortune hunter named Morris Townsend. Dr. Sloper, a Jamesian monster more concerned with the rightful disposition of his fortune than with his daughter’s happiness, ties up the money so that Catherine won’t get it if she marries Townsend. Townsend, predictably, heads for the hills. Catherine, who had believed in his love, is devastated.

In the book, the doctor eventually dies and leaves Catherine with an income that is adequate but not, he thinks, sufficient to entice Townsend to return. He misjudges, and Townsend does return to the now middle-aged Catherine. She no longer feels the hurt but knows herself to be broken because of it, and rebuffs Townsend because it is what has to be done. Then she goes back to her embroidery.

The Catherine of the play is a stronger, more assertive woman. When the doctor dies (this time, shortly after the broken engagement) and Townsend returns, Catherine sets him up to believe that she will marry him and that he will have the money, only to disappoint him in the same way he had disappointed her.

The novel’s Catherine is destroyed by Townsend’s betrayal, but the play’s Catherine is less fragile, more confident, and will not be destroyed. There is no “The Heiress II,” so we don’t know what happens to Catherine, but I’m pretty sure she finds happiness and lives to a ripe old age.

I wasn’t in the room sixty-five years ago, when the wife-and-husband team of Ruth and Augustus Goetz wrote the script, but I can picture it. “We have to show Catherine’s backbone early on,” Ruth says to Augustus. Or maybe Augustus says it to Ruth. Either way, they put their heads together on what kind of scene would show just how different their Catherine is from James’s Catherine.

The scene they settle on is the one in which we first meet Catherine, telling her aunt, her father’s sister, about the Hospital Committee meeting she attended earlier in the day:

Catherine: Some of the women are so foolish that they are funny. They think it ill-bred to know anything about food, so they are useless on the Committee. One girl asked me today if veal was the front or hind part of the cow.

Mrs. Penniman: What did you tell her?

Catherine: Well, Aunt, I told her the truth. I said it was a nursing calf, and just when it was most adorable, most touching … we eat it!

That’s the official script and, although I’m reluctant to trust my memory of a play I saw almost twenty years ago, I could swear that, in that version, Catherine said, “We kill it and eat it.” And she said it with some relish.

The fact that I remember the scene is a testament to its effectiveness. There’s nothing like a willingness to be matter-of-fact about killing adorable creatures to establish strength and substance.

Pigs, I’m here to tell you, are adorable creatures.

As of two days ago, we have three: one for us and two for friends. They are, all three, adorable. We are going to raise them until they’re something north of 200 pounds, and then we are going to kill them and eat them.

I’ve been warned not to name them. I’ve been warned to keep it always in mind that we’re raising them for food. I’ve been warned to not become too attached to them. And I think these warnings, clearly well-intentioned, are misguided – for two reasons.

First is what we owe the pigs, which are smart, social animals. They thrive on the company of each other, and of the people who keep them. I’ve been a pig owner for less than 48 hours, so I can’t vouch for this, but I’m given to understand that a pig’s relationship with people is much like a dog’s. Withholding affection does a disservice to an animal connected to us, and withholding it in the hope that it will help us weather the day that the animal dies is, I think, selfish.

My great-uncle Frank, on whose farm my mother spent childhood summers, believed that loving an animal was part of a farmer’s duty, and that hardening yourself to your livestock was a failure of stewardship. Part of giving an animal the best life you can is allowing your emotions to be invested in its well-being.

Hardening is also a slippery slope. It can start with refusing to name your pigs, or to feed them treats by hand, or to spend time in the pen with them. It can end with factory farms and gestation crates.

But this isn’t just about what we owe the pigs. It’s about the kind of people we want to be. Hardening doesn’t hurt only the hardenee; it also hurts the hardener. Withholding love from something in the hopes that its death will hurt less doesn’t seem like a strategy for a rich, fulfilling life. You risk becoming the kind of person who uses gestation crates.

I know, going in, that the day we kill these pigs will be very hard. I will be sad and I will cry. But the prospect of steeling myself against their piggy charm every day between now and then is intolerable. I will names these pigs, I will feed them treats by hand, I will spend time in the pen with them.  I will love them, and then I will kill them and eat them.

There are people who believe that eating meat but being unwilling to kill is hypocritical, and I don’t think that’s right. Although I have killed some of my own meat, I don’t believe it’s necessary for moral consistency. You can believe that meat-eating is moral but prefer someone else to do the killing, assuming that someone is willing to oblige.

But there’s something you can’t do. You can’t look away. You can’t be squishy or squeamish about the adorable creatures that are killed for your consumption, and then consume them. You can be sad. You can cry. But you can’t say, “Awww, they’re so cute!” and then close your eyes until someone else makes the problem go away. Ethical meat eating begins with an open-eyed acknowledgement of what we do to turn animals into dinner, and I’m finding out just how much fortitude that takes when you’re nose-to-snout with an adorable creature.

I don’t know whether Ruth and Augustus Goetz ever raised pigs, but they certainly understood the problem. Of all the issues under the sun, they chose this one to establish their Catherine Sloper as a woman of strength and substance.

I think I would have liked her.

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Comments

  1. Excellent post, Tamar. Well-written and thoughtful.
    Nothing makes it any easier and nothing should, but I will say this: Trust me, those pigs will be a hell of a lot less lovable at 200lbs.

    • Ken,

      It depends on what you mean by “lovable”. Most of the hogs my Dad raised were a lot less cute by the time they reached 150 pounds, at least in the sense of baby pig cuteness. But those that interacted with us more were smart, respectable creatures. I was never much for affection with the livestock, beyond an empathy for understanding what might bother them, or might be a problem. My neighbor let his kid make a pet of one, a pet that followed all around the farm outside of the pens, and up to the house and houseyard. I never knew if the pig followed into the house; this was long before pot bellied pigs, and the pig was a Duroc/Hampshire cross.

      We didn’t name many of our livestock animals (well, there was the sheep, Hazel, but that is another story). But we got to know individuals, some of them fairly well. Some we would be wary of, some we regarded affectionately, pigs, cows, sheep.

      I find no reason to believe any given five-six month old pig will be unlovable. Cute isn’t even on the list of requirements for being lovable, even for livestock.

      • We didn’t name many of our livestock animals (well, there was the sheep, Hazel, but that is another story).

        I’m sure it was because she was an exceptional sheep! Smart, witty, caring, good sense of humour…

        • Back then the TV show Hazel was on; I always thought that the Hazel of the maid, interfering and nosy, was the namesake.

          Hazel (the sheep) got out, regularly. One tactic was to slip her nose underneath the fence — then follow. She stripped the wool off her back, giving herself a ‘flat top’ appearance/. Mom would open the bathroom window, stick her head out, and shout, “hay, ZUHLL!”, and the sheep would sometimes scamper back under the fence and into the orchard. Mom’s shout embarrassed my sister and me, but Mom thought it great fun.

  2. We name our pigs, and spend time with them when they’re smaller. They’re not quite as cute once they’re 200 plus lbs, though. :) We aim, with all of our meat animals, to give them the best possible life while we have them. If that means treats and names, then so be it. At least we know that they enjoyed clean food and water, affection, sunshine, and room to roam while they were with us. Enjoy your pig experience!

  3. We raised pigs as a kid growing up. My dad would bring home big bags of day old donuts to feed them. We had one in particular that my sister named Melody Oink Oink. We would both get in and ride on her back, and how she loved a good scratch.She was the sweetest most delicious pig I ever had. Her pork chops were as big as ham steaks!!

  4. Brooke S. says:

    I have had the luck of watching the movie, but not the play. Nor have I read the book. But I always liked the movie. This post is profound, and I wholeheartedly agree with it. I think one of the biggest problems our society faces is detachment. We fail one another, and ourselves by keeping things at arms length.

    We have 7 chickens (two them will be butchered when they reach a good weight), and three turkeys (two for us, and one for the man who built our coop). The turkeys will be on our table this year. I find they are hilarious, attention seeking, and intelligent. They follow me around the yard, hang out on the patio when I study, and stand under me when they are scared. The youngest two are ecstatic to see me after a long day at school, and have provided me with stress relief I couldn’t have imagined. I check on them at night before I go to bed, and they are all over me. It makes me smile.

    During the hardest semester I will have, they relax me, and I in turn love on them.

    But I still think to myself they will taste mighty good brined and roasted. Mighty good.

    Great insight, Tamar. Good read.

  5. I have always thought the “No Name” thing was pointless. My chickens do not have names, mainly because I do not feel like devoting time to naming critters that do not come when called (my cat’s name is KitKat because of this policy). However, that does not stop the girls from being engaging, endearing and just general fun. Animals do not need names to have indvidual personalities; they come with their individuality factory installed. How we treat them determines how much each animal can behave like an individual.

    On the flip side, if you honor the animal as an individual and give it as much care and quality of life as you can, I believe the sadness at the end is easier to deal with because, while it was a short life, the animal was as happy as you could make it. Naming the animal is just part of honoring it.

    No one gets out of this life alive, so when you kill an animal, you are not taking away immortality, you are just shortening an already finite life. I think that some of the people who are concerned about killing animals may understand this intellectually, but on the emotional level, they believe that if we stop eating chickens and pigs and cows, then these animals will be taken to Valhalla to quaff mead with the Vikings. The reality is that if we all stopped eating meat today, these animals would, at best, be slaughtered and wasted, and, at worst, be abandoned and allowed to starve or die from accidents or disease.

  6. Very touching and so well put together, your post hits right at the heart of what we are dealing with, as well. Thank you.

  7. My husband’s father grew up on a tobacco farm in Maryland. When his father got old, he ‘retired’ and one of Steve’s uncles took over the farm. But his grandfather quickly got bored, so the uncle brought home a shoat for him to raise. Grandpa would feed the pig, and scratch it, and spent a lot of time talking to this pig because no one else was around; his wife was dead and his sons and daughters were all over the world, save one who was in the field. When the time came for the pig to be slaughtered, Gramps couldn’t do it.

    They wound up trading the pig for a dog, knowing full well what would happen to it after the trade. It just wasn’t going to happen on his farm.

    I hope to raise rabbits for meat someday, but plan to grow ugly ones – the Florida White is a homely breed. Not sure what I’d do if I had to off something cute. Lamb comes to mind.

    I probably wouldn’t have much trouble if I were hungry though.

  8. Very well said, Tamar. Hardening is indeed a slippery slope. And it’s true: The one thing you can’t do is look away.

  9. Kristin says:

    I just finished a book yesterday in which one of the characters couldn’t help but ‘love’ the two pigs her family raised every year on their small farm, so she gave the names ‘Martha’ and ‘Mary’ to each new pair of piglets, whatever sexes they happened to be.

  10. When we raised pigs, we also found them to be personable and very interesting. They ran loose in the orchard, and when my husband was out there working I could always find him by seeing where the pigs were! They followed him like puppies. Yes, we named them and they answered to their names. (Pork Chop, Hambone etc….. yeah, I know but it worked) We both got our fill of home butchering when much younger, it is now the job of the friendly neighborhood mobile butcher. Only once could we not watch; that was when we had a beloved milk goat killed. She totally refused to be confined by any fence we could devise and we figured table meat was better than her being killed on the highway. SO, we put her in an individual pen and tied her there and left home when the butcher came. And yes, she was a little hard to eat. We figure our animals have the best possible life, are lovingly cared for and have a quick and merciful end, and are enjoyed on our plates.

  11. I will never ever be able to keep pigs because I read Charlotte’s Web as a child. My hat’s off to you and your “radiant” “humble” pigs.

    Stock up on valium and prepare to cry.

    I’m going back to my embriodery now.

  12. Anneliese says:

    This is a perspective I hadn’t heard before and I am glad you shared it. Agreed. Thank you.

  13. I must say that this is one of your best posts yet!

  14. It’s happened often here that I post something I’ve “discovered” about having animals (or growing plants, or hunting, or fishing, or doing anything else I’m new to) and I find that the people who have much more experience at it “discovered” it a long time ago.

    I’m not sure whether that’s because it’s a very common discovery, or because the people who come here are like-minded (that is, naturally, intelligent, thoughtful, and perceptive!). Or maybe a little of both.

    I very much appreciate hearing from those of you who have struggled, or are struggling, with some of the same issues. (And I thank those of you who say nice things about what I write — I’m trying to not let it go to my head.) I also appreciate that no one has come here to call me Evil Incarnate because I’m not vegan (I posted a version of this on the Huffington Post [ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tamar-haspel/raising-pigs-for-meat-lov_b_1574861.html ], and that’s what always happens over there.

    We haven’t decided on names yet, but I think we might have to call one of the pigs Hazel.

    • Accidental Mick says:

      Tamr,
      I read the post you put on Huffington Post (because I always want ot read your work, even when it is a rehash) and I read the comments.

      I really despair when I read of or meet people who are happiest when they can rant off half understood and never thought through biases and prejudices.

      My father was a very tolerant man – he cared about a lot of topics, he just didn’t need to make others agree with him. We didn’t have a car in those days so we walked nearly everywhere and had to pass the house of a bigot. This person would often emerge when we passed to rant at my father – usually about something nothing to do with either of them. My father would listen politely say goodbye and walk on. As we walked he would look at me, smile and wink and say “we deperately need more padded cells”.

  15. It is odd that vegetarians/vegans can be some of the least tolerant people. Maybe it is some mental flaw with me, but I always expect vegans to be accepting of other lifestyles, and am surprised when they are so combative in their contempt for other people’s choices.

    Tamar, you are a brilliant writer, and I greatly admire your ability to winnow out the chaff to find the nuggets of truth. Keep it up! And, not to worry, if your head does get swelled by the praise, all of us loyal readers can club together to buy you a wheelbarrow to move it around so that you can keep writing! ;)

  16. In keeping with your approach to raising animals for food I was interested to read this account in a Q&A, April 24, 2012, with a large scale cattle rancher, as documented by his wife on The Pioneer Woman blog.

    http://thepioneerwoman.com/

    Q. I’m curious, I ask this with all respect, how you all reconcile everything above with the miserable end those animals meet.

    A. We raise and grow cattle for the production of meat. I know that we do everything we can to take as good of care of them as we can while they are here in our care, from feeding them in storms, doctoring them when they are sick, or helping deliver calves. Our job is to take care of them. I know a lot of people in this industry and I can’t think of one person who doesn’t understand that the better job we do of taking care of the animals that are in our care, the better those animals will do.

  17. James would appreciate the irony. NYC sophisticates become farmers. It’s like James in reverse. Of course, the loose metaphor of the playwrights would never do for James; killing a pig, or better, an ox, James would know, is the work of Chinese peasants, who are so philosophical: The Good Earth giveth and the Good Earth taketh. Wang Lung could not kill his ox, but O-lan slit its throat and wasted not a dop of blood. James’s work is about reflection. His world, like the world of Henry Adams. was a chaos; an urban, metro anc cosmo politan world full of sounds and furies nostalgiac for certainties and groping toward pragmatism. Killing pigs is relatively painless.

  18. That was a beautifully crafted piece, Tamar. Your humanity blends seamlessly with your commitment to the “Starving Off the Land” philosophy. Really well done!

  19. The good news is they become less cute and more tasty as they get bigger. See Goose’s sentiments on this:

    http://sugarmtnfarm.com/cute-pet-pigs/

    I love an 800 lb sow and drool over 1,000 lb, and north, boar.

    By the way, Archimedes, the boar who was Goose’s pet pig, topped out at about 1,157 lbs.

    http://sugarmtnfarm.com/speckles-rooster/

    Have fun with your piglets and enjoy them both as they grow and after when you eat them. Pigs and chickens are a wonderful foundation pair of animals for any homestead.

  20. I appreciate your post about the ethical and moral dilemma of eating pets and especially reading everyone’s comments. I’m glad people give it deserving thoughtfulness.
    I gave up eating meat shortly after getting back yard laying hens. That was three years ago. I didn’t expect that would happen; I merely lost the taste for it after learning about their ways.

    I don’t judge others who reject factory farm meat for humanely raised pastured pastured meat. What I do wonder is if someone can raise a pig or a goat or a chicken and come to love it’s ways and be sad to witness its slaughter, why don’t they eat their cats and dogs and parrots when they die? The other thing I wonder about, in light of all the research about how growing and feeding livestock animals contributes to a deterioration of our planet is, do our taste buds trump science? Is eating meat an addiction like cigarette smoking? Like…We know its bad but we don’t or can’t stop? Just wondering about it all…..and learning about perspectives. with appreciation for sharing and learning, Cathy in Asheville, NC

  21. @ Cathy,

    A couple of thoughts. “why don’t they eat their cats and dogs and parrots when they die?”

    The first part of this, is that you prefer to eat good quality food. Eating turnips after they go to seed and your aged pet after it passes is the same thing — the quality is gone. Many pets die of disease, or injury, or the ravages of time, none of which make them preferred sources of food.

    The other thought is a response to both my first part, and “do our taste buds trump science?”

    That is, our taste buds are trained to cultural norms. Commercial advertising and merchandising focus on meat sales that make money for the agribusiness industry — mostly chicken, beef, pork, with a bit of turkey and various others. Culturally, we have chosen to denigrate eating horses, donkey, mules, dogs, cats, parrots, and gold fish. We know that other cultures enjoy some of these — and that all are prey to predators that happily attack pork, beef, chickens, turkey, etc.

    Look at MatronOfHusbandry at http://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/the-skinny-on-jane/, and her chronicles of Jane, the family milch cow, from her birth and the loss of her mother, to breeding, calving, and coming into her first milk. Tell me that Jane isn’t as well known and admired as any other work partner — not a pet, a work partner has a place, a responsibility, and performs as required for all to flourish. How is this any different than a horse that might or might not be admired, when it comes time to slaughter? Oxen, steers trained to draught work, are still in use in the US, how do they differ from horses, when we get ready to evaluate which animals to slaughter, which to sell, and which to train for more work?

    I understand that facing that great divide — learning that meat doesn’t come from the grocer shelf or freezer — can be traumatic. The marketing message that chicken come from Tyson, that beef comes from IBP (Iowa Beef Processors, Inc.) (Sorry, that is now Tyson Fresh Meats), that pork comes from Jimmy Dean (The Big Bad John song guy) — it is all lies. And lies diminish all of us.

    Culture, what our family before us ate and what our community eats, plays a large part of what we choose to eat. We may crave a particular lamb dish because we are enamored of a particular mint sauce recipe, not the lamb itself because it is lamb. For the most part, the taste bud reacts more to the preparation of a dish, than to the basic food components.

    Various communities used to eat squirrel and opossum as a matter of course; some still do. You should know that some people only eat nuts and berries, because they learned that plants have fear, and pain, and react to classical music.

    It is important to adjust our lives to what we learn, as we come to know the truth of things. This is something you did, as you lost your taste for chicken.

    I think it is also important to accept that we must be good husbandmen and -women, nurturing the livestock, people, plants, and communities that come into our lives, and must also respect the gifts we receive of the livestock and produce we harvest. Which gifts we harvest, and how we live our respect for those gifts are mostly a matter of conscience and culture, and choice.

  22. Cathy — Thanks for visiting, and for commenting. I think your questions are good ones.

    On why we don’t eat dogs, cats, and parrots, I think Brad hit on the key reason — it’s cultural. As a culture, we develop eating some animals and keeping others for pets, and we have a deep, visceral sense of disgust when we think about eating the pets. In other places in the world, people don’t think twice about eating those animals, and if any of us had grown up there, we wouldn’t either.

    The way I see the moral issue, if it’s OK to kill and eat an animal, it’s OK to kill and eat any animal (issues of sustaining populations aside). What isn’t OK is to mistreat an animal. And, although it’s counterintuitive, killing isn’t the worst thing you can do to an animal. Far from it. Since it doesn’t understand its life is being taken, the only suffering involved is the pain of the death — which is why we make our animals’ deaths as painless as we can.

    Your other question, about the world’s resources, is also important. I think that we humans should eat less meat, for the reason you cite, and some others as well. But animals are key to sustainable agriculture. They’re important to soil fertility, insect control, and pasture management. And the data we see about how many people can be fed by the plants that are fed to animals are generally based on corn, which is one of the highest calories-per-acre crop (potatoes, too). If you look at the acreage it takes to grow a high-protein crop like soybeans, you’ll see the numbers are a lot closer.

    Are we addicted? I don’t think so. Most human populations evolved eating meat, and a diet that includes meat (or, at least, animal products) is the easiest way to get the complement of macro- and micronutrients we need.

    I think humans would benefit, animals would benefit, and agriculture would benefit if we all ate less meat, but I think a completely meatless world would be sub-optimal for all three (livestock wouldn’t have lives at all, and if you’ve ever seen a happy chicken or pig, you know there’s value there).

    Again, thank you for opening up the discussion. I hope you’ll continue reading and commenting.

    Brad — Thanks for addressing Cathy’s questions. Your ideas about it are pretty close to mine. So, naturally, I hope that you, too, will continue reading and commenting!

  23. There is another reason not to bother eating cats and dogs – they’re not an efficient way to produce meat. Same reason I would rather eat beef than horses.

    Pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks, beef all grow a lot faster and larger on minimal resources. I can easily raise all of those on pasture with no purchased feeds. In six months a pig goes from a couple of pounds at birth to 250 lbs. No cat or dog comes close to that growth rate or feed efficiency.

    This makes pigs a far better meat producing animal than dogs or cats.

    Dogs and cats are very handy on the farm, for managing the other livestock and controlling vermin.

  24. Katherine says:

    I just discovered your series via WP and had a few questions about the actual slaughter of the pigs. In one of your responses to a reader’s comment on WP, you said you are “hiring a professional to come and do the job on-site.” Can you expand on this (maybe you have in another post, I have read many of them but not all yet)? What kind of professional? Someone who works in a slaughter house and kills pigs on a regular basis? Someone from the farm you bought the pigs from? A butcher? Also, what method will they use to end the pigs’ lives? A bolt gun? Furthermore, why aren’t you going to be the one killing the pigs? Why not have the professional train you?

    Also, I know it’s months afterward, but I wanted to respond to Laura who said, “It is odd that vegetarians/vegans can be some of the least tolerant people. Maybe it is some mental flaw with me, but I always expect vegans to be accepting of other lifestyles, and am surprised when they are so combative in their contempt for other people’s choices.”

    People’s choices [to eat meat] inhibit other beings’ desire and will to continue living. No animal is going to willingly lay down to be killed so a human can eat his/her body; if grabbed at or chased after with a knife, he or she willl run the other way. For people who say “Eating meat is my personal choice,” what about the animal that person is eating? Was he/she allowed a choice? I think that’s why many vegans aren’t “tolerant” of a meat-eating lifestyle. Similar to how slavery abolitionists may not have been tolerant towards or accepting the lifestyle of those who wanted to continue keeping slaves.

    • Katherine — I will be writing in detail about the slaughter down the line. Promise.

      Because I think animals and people are different, and should be treated differently and accorded different rights, I can’t agree with your analogy. I understand that your convictions are heartfelt, but I simply don’t share them.

  25. Katherine says:

    I actually don’t know that all animals will run away if “chased after with a knife” (but I hope my general point still comes across). After reading about your turkeys it sounded like only one ran from you, after she saw the others taken away. I wonder if the pigs will do the same, like if the first one comes easily but the other 2 sense that something is up (smell, sight or sound) and are more difficult.

  26. Katherine,

    I get that all living things are driven to stay alive. I also know that everything will die at some point. My chickens can feed me or feed the grave worms, but something is going to eat them. We do not live in a Disney cartoon where Bambi’s mom doesn’t due, she just can’t be with him anymore. Out there in the world millions of Bambi’s lose their Mom’s, sometimes to hunters, but more often to predators and accidents. This is the way the world works.

    Regard domestic species, these animals have entered into a bargain with nature and humanity. The species thrives in exchange for individuals feeding humans. If the day comes when humans no longer eat these animals, then the species will become extinct. Nature cares about species and ecological niches, not individuals.

  27. Katherine says:

    I’m still interested in your answers to the questions I posted. Thanks!

    • Katherine says:

      Oops, I accidentally read Laura’s response thinking it was from Tamar. Sorry about that! Now I see Tamar has responded above. I’m sure I sounded like an impatient foot stamper :) Thanks for bearing with me.

      • Katherine you are totally off base to equate humans as being the same as domestic animals we have bred for millennia to be raised for food. A pig is not worth a human. That you would think such a thing shows a total lack of either personal integrity or sensibility. It is hard to tell. We are part of the natural world. We are predators. Predators eat prey. Just as herbivores eat plants. I guess that makes you a Kingdomist since you some how feel you are better than a plant but all animals are equal. Sick.

        • Katherine says:

          In terms of equality, I think all sentient beings deserve equal compassion and ethical consideration from humans, regardless of their inequality to humans in areas like intelligence, physical capabilities, etc. Especially if we’re responsible for bringing them into this world by breeding them. But I also know humans can live healthy, fulfilling lives without the use of animals. There are plenty of other things to eat.

          • Katherine, to quote Terry Pratchett:

            ‘All right,’ said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

            “REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE”

            ‘Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little- ”

            “YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES”

            ‘So we can believe the big ones?”

            “YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING”

            ‘They’re not the same at all!”

            “YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET– ” Death waved a hand. “AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME… SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED”

            ‘Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

            “MY POINT EXACTLY”

            It is just a matter of which little and big lies we choose to believe. You choose to believe that compassion and ethical consideration means not killing animals, while others choose to believe that keeping animals humanely and taking all care that the killing is respectful and as painless as possible is compassionate and ethical. But understand, we live on a world spinning through a universe that is totally indifferent to both arguments. And you will never, ever argue another person into believing as you do. It has been tried ever since mankind developed language, and in all that time it has never worked. But good luck on trying!

          • Jeanie in NH says:

            Oh, Katherine, you are so cute in your city liberal sort of way. Unrealistic, out of touch with reality, but very cute. Try getting away from the plastic city world. You, of course, do realize that billions of animals are killed in the process of raising the vegetables and fruits you eat. Even more in the mining and drilling for the petroleum you depend on. You’re a hypocrite. But cute. Keep on being deluded.

  28. Adam Mortson says:

    Katherine you are totally out of touch with the real world. A mosquito does not deserve compassion. You can not live without animals. You fancy yourself as compassionate but you just have a disease of hyper empathy that deludes you. You are the classic vegan evangelist. The interesting thing is it is a phase that you will grow out of. Start now, moving beyond it and grow up.

    • Adam,

      I didn’t see that Katherine stated that animals and people should be equal in rights and choices, just a question about how others addressed that question.

      And her other questions were about the visiting butcher — with the tools and equipment to efficiently harvest the animal and make best use of the carcass in a timely manner.

  29. Wendy Mac Farland says:

    You are so smitten with your pigs. They are very intelligent, sentient beings. You owe them a fast humane death. Have you investigated this? Will they be slaughtered one at a time? It seems to me that they should all have separate slaughter dates. How will they be slaughtered? With a captive bolt gun? Co2 gas? Seems to me you should be looking into this now. They are good animals and deserve the best of treatment on their final day. The photos show them to be like giant dogs. My guess is you will go with turkeys and chickens “next time”

    • I think, Wendy, that you can rest easy. Surprising as it seems, we *have* thought about how to slaughter them, and I promise to write about it when the time comes.

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