When we killed our first two pigs towards the end of last year, despite my tears at their demise, I launched myself off the vegetarian bandwagon I’ve been driving for over 20 years. Boots and all I landed firmly on the side of the carnivores as I feasted on the fat of the land – literally. While the boys were savouring the meat of the bacon, I was supping on the fat. We were like that old childhood rhyme – ‘Jack Spratt could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean. Between them both, they licked the platter clean.’
Even while my tongue and tastebuds were revelling in the taste and sensations in my mouth, and my belly was full at last, my mind and soul were wrestling with the implications of my newly formed enthusiasm for flesh.
I read ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ and more as I tried to make sense of this physical need to be satiated with the flesh of another, while the soul abhors the loss of life integral to the process from paddock to plate.
On the farm, life and death is often very arbitrary – just like human life. Animals can be here one day and gone the next – flood, snake bite, wild dogs, weakness, paralysis tick etc. Witnessing the cruelty of nature made me think that our considered culling was pretty tame by comparison, notwithstanding the fear the animals feel as they load and leave this land that they have always known and loved as home. As they leave their families and friends to destinations unknown and uncertain.
I love these animals, each and every one, and their grief is heartbreaking as they go. Yes, they have had wonderful peaceful, joyous lives, foraging as nature intended and they wouldn’t have been born and had the experience if it weren’t for the human need and love of meat.
I’m not condemning anyone else’s choices. We will still be raising animals for sale, slaughter and feeding my two carnivorous boys.
But maybe the wholesale slaughter of my beautiful sheep by the wild dogs, or tempting the pigs into the trailer for their final journey to the abattoir, or the freezers full to the brim of dead pig at the moment, or looking at this year’s crop of calves and how beautiful and full of life they are, has turned me from my thirst for flesh, back to the the peaceful serenity of veg.
Maybe I’m just sick to my stomach of the swathe of deaths we’ve witnessed over the last few months. Never say never, I might be tempted by the smell of bacon in the future, but for now I am clambering wearily back onto the vegetarian bandwagon.
These animals are my friends, and I don’t want to eat my friends . . .