The ethical issues concerning animal slaughter

November 10, 2009

I have certainly been posting a good deal of articles regarding this issue and it is because I remain in limbo when it comes to eating vegetarian. Not only am I concerned with the health consequences of eating meat (hormones, GM, etc), but also because of my love for animals. Although it may seem odd or even hypocritical, for me, I don’t feel as guilty when it comes to eating chicken/turkey versus eating a pig or cow (I’ve given up pork mainly due to my awareness of their intelligence, personalities, etc). However, when I read the below article, I started to wonder about why I think this way.

This article from the NY Times describes the butchering practices and what goes into slaughtering an animal. Word of caution: It is quite graphic. What struck me the most was a comment from Jake, a student who enrolled in a butchery class, who noted that animals do not want to die, that they feel fear and pain, and the class gave him a real understanding of where meat comes from. While I am still on the fence about becoming vegetarian, I think it is important to understand fully where our food comes from including how an animal is slaughtered. Obviously, this in turn leads me to the conclusion that if an animal does give up its life to provide a meal for someone, that the animals should be treated humanely and that family farming is such an important initiative that needs support from consumers. If more of us support family farmers and purchase meat that is humanely raised and slaughtered, there will be more of a market for it. I hope to see this in the future.

Any one have thoughts on this article?

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Deb July 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

What to say to a friend whose position is that animals have such tiny brains that they don’t know they are on their way to salughter? Tried to explain that they may not know “intellectually” but instinctively they do and that people MUST be as humane as possible and, as one writer said, honor the sacrafice of a living creature in the process. Would love some practical and logical suggestions, as the friendship is dear, even if we disagree strongly on some matters.

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods July 20, 2012 at 8:17 am

It sounds like you’ve made some good points. For me, it’s about kindness over cruelty. I prefer to treat other beings with kindness. Maybe the creature will never know I was cruel. But I will know and I couldn’t live with that.

Charlotte April 2, 2011 at 5:56 am

Can someone please tell me how meat is ethically slaughtered? How is the animal killed without feeling pain? Genuinely interested here because I personally have no problem eating meat as long as it has had a happy life with fair treatment and has been killed in a kind way, as opposed to the beatings you see in the shock programmes about slaughtering. Thank you.

Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods April 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Hey, Charlotte! Thanks for your comment. You raise a very good point. I’m sure some would say it’s impossible to ethically kill an animal and there’s probably some validity to that argument. But, for others, it’s a matter of treating the animals well before slaughter (as you pointed out). Interpretation of these issues is extremely personal and even though I’ve spent years trying to learn as much as I can, I still have loads of questions. For now, I feel most comfortable avoiding meat because I don’t like the idea of slaughter, but I certainly respect people who treat animals well and honor them for their sacrifice.

Jessica November 12, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for all the great comments everyone! This is truly a topic that has everyone talking and clearly intrigues me.

pvl November 12, 2009 at 8:38 am

Reading this again, validates my initial reaction: We are omnivores, it is as simple as that. Predation is not “pretty” and it need not be. However our factories kill with no honor — and we do not really appreciate or understand or value the animal’s sacrifice — “cheap meat” is an abomination.

I don’t think I could easily participate in one of these slaughtering/butchering classes. I’m a sissy. But I do think that if I am going to eat meat, it will be meat from outside of the factory process, locally sourced, personally slaughtered and butchered and more expensive. Since I can’t afford to eat much of that kind of meat — I eat less meat, and am happy with that.

pvl November 11, 2009 at 10:41 pm

I think that we have confused “value” with “cost in money”. Combine this confusion with a belief in our right to abundance (a belief fueled by ever “cheaper” mass-produced foods) and we have a perfect storm of excess. We Americans eat way too much meat — in part, because it is so cheap.

I don’t know what the society wide fix is — but for my part I continue to eat meat it is simply becoming a smaller portion of my over-all diet, and eat sitting I consume smaller portions. So, eat it less often, less of it, and pay more for it — but I recognize the value to me, of paying more for this kind of meat, together with the value of learning how to eat more affordably, which means relying on more beans and whole grains and veggies.

Essentially, hoping not to be too repetitive — meat is cheap because of the factory farming system. So we eat it out of proportion to it’s actual cost, and have lost good sense of what it’s real value is.

Allie (Random Teaspoon) November 11, 2009 at 8:33 am

Great post! If we really knew where our food came from, we would without doubt make different choices. Everyone should watch Food, Inc too! I eat some form of meat usually about once a day (with Meatless Monday). I go to great lengths to secure meat from truly humanely raised and killed animals. Check to see if there are any farmers in your area for eggs and meat!

Jennifer November 10, 2009 at 2:26 pm

true, cost effectiveness is key, but the more consumers who demand non-factory farmed meats, the lower the cost will become. hopefully, spreading awareness about this issue will cause real change so that one day, everyone can afford the best quality foods, even if they don’t know that it’s actually good for them. imagine that!

Kelly November 10, 2009 at 1:08 pm

I think the whole topic will always come down to cost effectiveness for the general population. Many people know exactly how animals come to reach their plates – yet will still go into normal grocery store and purchase relatively cheap ground beef – beef from factory farms and they do this because they have a family to feed. The economy is still pretty tough out there for many people – too tough to buy expensive meat.

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