Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do you eat dog?



Well why not? In many cultures it's totally acceptable. A family story, which I remember quite indistinctly, goes something like this. Our family was living in Austria (I think, maybe it was Finland, it's hard to remember when you are a childhood jet setter), and my mother was purchasing some kind of ground meat. This went on for some time, all of us eating it without complaint, maybe even with some gusto. Finally, the shopkeeper or butcher exclaimed to my mom that she never expected that Americans would eat horse! I can't see that happening here in the U.S.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately on urban farming, stories of people like you and me (well, at least like me), who have the hankering to get back to the land. My grandparents farmed, my parents are now farmers, it's in my blood. My dream, however, is to grow grapes and make wine, not muck out stalls.

In many of these stories, these novice farmers decide to raise animals for  meat, typically starting with chickens or rabbits, moving on to pigs and maybe even cows. They do this to: 1. get the experience, 2. follow the path of the animal from birth to their ultimate demise, and/or 3. be responsible for killing the animal, as an ethical and moral act.

I've always had a vegan bent, having practiced the religion in college and on and off for man years. The combination of these urban farm tales coupled with my childrens' seeming inability to connect the plastic-wrapped chunks of protein to living animals has me in a bit more of a quandary than usual.

If I could do it, I'd become vegan in a heartbeat. Easier said than done. When you share a house with 5 others, a certain amount of compromise is necessary, especially since Laima does the lion's (lioness') share of the shopping and cooking. Plus, dangle a good breakfast sausage or perfectly cooked bacon and I'm just as eager as the next person. I haven't eaten beef consistently for probably 6 or more months and, honestly, I don't miss it.

I don't think I could kill an animal and then eat it. Hunting holds no interest for me. Generally, I feel like a total hypocrite not being able to accomplish either of those, yet continuing to eat animals.

How much of this should I share with my kids? I try to explain where meat comes from and how a chicken tender and real live poultry are connected. But is that enough? Do they get it? What about a trip to the slaughterhouse? Too gruesome? How about raising an animal and then killing it for a meal or meals?

What does it mean that our culture is so removed from animal husbandry and the killing of animals for meat? Everything? Nothing? What do you tell your kids when they ask about meat? Do they even ask? Would you or do you kill animals for food?

21 comments:

  1. This just came up the other day. Thing 2 goes to an after-school program that requires her to eat the hot lunch they provide unless she has a dr's note for an allergy. She's become MUCH more adventurous with food, most recently extolling her delight in some Asian chicken. Then she paused and said "wait, is chicken, like REAL chicken?" So no, was not making the connection.
    I would not kill animals for food and find myself quite happy as a vegetarian when the Caveman is away.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never though about it in this sense before. I went vegetarian earlier this year after reading The China Study and watching documentaries like Earthlings. No idea how to inform kids without scaring them off so they can still make their own decisions.

    Boy, childhood as a jetsetter must have been rough ;) what did your parents do that required traveling? Or are you royalty?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd much rather hunt PETA members than animals. Nothing equates "jackass" with "vegetarian" better than those fools. Which is too bad.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Marcia - Munchkin, our 3rd, is especially confused as he eats both veggie chik'n and actual chicken tenders. He is actually almost vegetarian without any input from us.

    Lindsay, my dad was a Fullbright professor (much better than being a Fuller Brush salesman), so we got to live in Europe several times when he taught over there. I was spoiled rotten as a child.

    Patrick, I agree that some of PETA's actions are somewhat inane, but I have to support that they are trying, usually in a well-meaning fashion. I prefer personal action to public action myself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting post. Kids (and adults for that matter) not knowing where their food comes from makes me sad. It just doesn't seem right to me for us to have such a huge disconnect. The impacts of our modern ways of food production on our own health, the treatment of animals, and the environment are massive. No judgement to anyone, none of this stuff is easy, but I'm glad we all seem to be paying more attention and trying to do better.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It took a few years before my children made the connection. My son is basically a vegetarian - his one meat exception is pepperoni on his pizza but other than that he can't seem to manage the texture of meat.

    I don't think I could kill my own food. I don't even kill ants or spiders.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Living in the midwest, born to a hunter/fisherman, married to a hunter/fisherman, mother to hunters/fishermen - meat has and will likely always be a part of our diet. That said, my children (7 and 10) are keenly aware of where the meat on our table comes from. They see the cows on their great-uncle's farm, helped butcher/package hogs every January and my son has killed two of the last 3 deer that have graced our freezer (and has processed them with his dad - not just dropped the animal at a butcher). He's also shot doves, squirrels and tried for a rabbit. While he was stoked to put his first buck rack on the wall, he clearly understood that there is so much more to the harvest. Both my kids have caught and helped clean fish that we've eaten as well. We have taught our children gun safety and wildlife conservation along with other life values that we pass on to them. We have also discussed that venison is a lean protein high in iron and nutrients. Meanhwhile, over the last few summers, my husband has worked with the children to plant a very small hill of cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, etc. They love picking and eating their produce. So it isn't all about the meat, but it is a part of our lifestyle.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I spent summers at my Grandparent's farm and several different animals were raised for eggs, milk and meat. The pigs and the cows were trucked down the road to be butchered properly by someone who knew what he was doing. The other smaller animals Grandma would just grab, slice the head off and get busy with a filet knife.

    That being said, it's a good debate and where does the "education" about meat begin. Is it merely about the connection or do we take it further back and talk about the role of meat in the evolution of humans? Do we speak of cultures who reverently thanked the animal for its sacrifice? And so on.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm veg, my husband is not. one of the bigger debates we;ve had is if our kids will eat meat (we don't have kiddos at this point). For me, it was a personal decision, but I fully plan on equating the animal to its version of "food" on the plate to my kid. I don't plan on lying in any way, but I don't plan on bullying them one way or the other. They'll eventually want to know why mom doesn't eat certain things, and I am going to be very honest about it. And it actually makes me super sad to think of my kiddos eating meat, but I would prefer they come to that decision on their own. i just hope my honesty with them helps in that journey!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do eat meat, although not daily, but I buy from local farmers with free-range and pastured animals. We purchase beef, chicken and eggs this way. Being in rural Tennessee has many benefits and aids in making food choices that I feel good about.

    I think the idea extends beyond meat but to produce as well. While I've taken steps to self-sufficiency and community supported agriculture, I've got a long way to go. However, I'm probably better than most people I know. A percentage of that may be due to geography as I mentioned. I can walk a mile down the road and buy eggs from my neighbor from her free-range, organically fed happy chickens for $2.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Afraid to tell you what's for dinner tonight...:)

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is such a tough topic to take on. I too, could easily give up the meat. I don't eat pork, rarely eat beef, and can live w/o chicken, turkey, etc. But I will say that my hubs and son love meat. There's no way to force vegetarianism on Mr. Z especially. So--my middle of the road is to follow Michael Pollen and look for meat suppliers who raise and treat animals ethically. Again, not easy, but where I go. Now as to educating the kids on where their food comes from--that's another tough one! When you come up with a good solution, let me know.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have a bit of a different outlook on food. I realize that to survive we eat LIFE and to me, all life is sacred, animal and plant alike. Plants do not have pretty eyes to look at, they do not cry out when one chops them and that makes it so easy for us to kill them.
    Having realized that I embraced the fact that there is no escape from killing in order for me to survive. I do make all possible effort to eat meat raised by local farmers who treat their animals as humanely as possible.
    I also make an effort to buy produce from organic growers as I see this as a humane way to grow plants.
    But this is just me. I would not want to impose my views on anyone else. (OK, I would want to impose my views on Monsanto but that is another story).

    ReplyDelete
  14. You hit it when you referred to veganism as a religion. It's much more than just consuming animal as food. You also avoid all leather products, which can be tricky. Heck, you can't even eat a lot of conventional breads because they contain whey. And, just in case people think vegans are necessarily healthier than meat- and cheese- and milk-eaters, remember that Oreos, Twinkies and any other completely processed "food" is vegan!

    ReplyDelete
  15. the answer the the main question
    no I dont wat dog. I have one. I could not imagine. I dont eat meat. I would not kill any animal for food. My kids do not make the connections...chicken they eat and little chickens at the farm are like apples and oranges to them

    ReplyDelete
  16. Interesting post and comments.

    We're big meat eaters. I could eat way less meat, but this household would revolt. I've always been up front with my kids about what the meat is, that it's an animal, and they've never worried too much about it. My niece was a vegetarian when she lived with us, and I worked around that with our meals, but it typically meant her eating somethign slightly different in place of the meat.

    I try to grow a decent portion of our vegetables (total failure this year), and I'd like to get to a point where the meat we're buying is more of the grass-fed variety than big farm machine produced, but we aren't there yet.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "If we weren't meant to eat cows they wouldn't be made of steak."

    In all seriousness, I'd try to eat almost anything but doubt I could eat an animal that I gave a name to.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "If we weren't meant to eat cows they wouldn't be made of steak."

    In all seriousness, I'd try to eat almost anything but doubt I could eat an animal that I gave a name to.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't have kids and since I can't seem to convince my dogs about the veggie thing we are a meat eating household for sure.I am pretty sure If I had to raise and slaughter my own food that I would be OK with that, I would give thanks for the lives taken to keep my whole and move on.I try and buy local meat at the farmers market and have gotten to know the farmers and how they treat the animals. It works for me.

    ReplyDelete
  20. honestly it was never discussed because it never came up. my boys have always eaten everything that was put in front of them. i've never forced my eating habits on either one of them.
    but to answer your question about killing animals for food. i couldn't unless it was a life or death situation. trust me, if it was a matter of staying alive there would be no question.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Yes, interesting post. I along with most of the others that have commented, I could do without meat. But I don't live alone, so an all inclusive diet goes on at our house.

    I think it's important to have those conversations with kids. They should be aware of where our food comes from, just like they should know that money doesn't just magically appear out of an ATM machine at any given time of day.

    ReplyDelete

Leave a comment, tell me what you are thinking!

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women