I have only just begun this blog and journey to only eat ethically raised meat and while I have received some great support, I am also finding it harder than I anticipated in a variety of ways.
First, it is tough having fun playing with the piglets and then discussing their slaughter. In the perfect world, I would not eat meat and I would raise all the pigs as pets. But that is not feasible. Firstly because I am not a farmer and secondly because if I were a farmer it would be financially crushing to do so, especially if we add lambs and chicken to the farm (and I would of course need a few dogs, goats, horses, and cats, and maybe some rabbits to join the pigs on the farm…). That is simply not going to happen.
So I find that I often have to remind myself why I am doing this. Why visit these animals knowing of their impending death that will fulfill my (and lots of other humans’) desire for meat?
For starters, these animals would (most likely) not be alive if they were not going to be dinner at some point. Which begs the question, is it better to have lived than never to have lived at all? It certainly depends on which farm you are raised. If you are a cow and are given shelter as well as a large pasture to graze in where you eat grass and hay and kelp (for extra vitamins and minerals!), that is certainly better than living and eating in a feedlot. Being raised in such an ethical fashion also often takes more time for the animals to grow. So I am looking for farms whose animals live happier, and maybe even longer lives.
These animals are going to be raised one way or another. So, let’s support the farms that raise animals the better way. That’s why I do this.
But that is not the only challenge I have come across.
On my Instagram account, @ethicalmeating, a self-proclaimed vegan (according to her Instagram name) commented on a picture I posted of a dog sitting with his flock of chickens, saying, “Show us the ethical and humane slaughter pics!”
I was furious (and visibly red when I read the comment). Furious and annoyed and shocked. Firstly, this woman was clearly trying to start a fight, which I was not interested in pursuing. But secondly, she clearly did not get it. Why would someone want to ruin or taint the good work I am trying to do? I am on her side! I was a vegan too because I was appalled by the treatment of animals. However, I am also realistic. People are still going to eat meat. So I am actively going to farms and doing my part to promote and support the ethical treatment of animals being raised for meat.
I had not expected that I would at any point feel attacked during my quest. I am not trying to pick fights. I have a purely positive mission.
Finally, I am a shy person. Introverted and shy. Because this topic is so important to me, I force myself to reach out to several farms each week to see if I can visit. Before my first farm visit, my family had to psych me up because I was so nervous to go talk to this farmer I had never met before (who turned out to be great and easy to talk to and I had a wonderful experience, but that was all after the fact). So when I heard from a farm that they are “not open to the public and generally already [sell] out of all we produce, we aren’t really interested in any more publicity” and therefore would not give me a tour, I was surprised, embarrassed, confused, and annoyed. (The name of the farm has purposefully been omitted).
I had not expected to experience so many feelings. This was supposed to be simple and it has become much more convoluted (and is slowly taking more and more of my time away from my actual day job!).
However, this journey has also already been rewarding in many ways. I have found farms I trust and meat I can eat. I have started to enjoy cooking! I have successfully ventured outside of my comfort zone and entered a world I previously knew very little about. And the learning is just beginning. I have received tons of positive feedback and support from friends, family, farmers, readers of this blog, and organizations dedicated to sustainable, organic farming.
So I know that I am on the right path. I just needed to vent a little.
(An article on a new farm to come soon.)