I never had a problem with killing animals for food. In theory, it is part of nature. Animals kill other animals all the time for food. As humans, we are just really good at it. Unfortunately, what I have come to realize is that the majority of the killing that happens to the animals that we eat is cruel and unusual punishment.
Having recently read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer I can not help but be compelled to change the way I think about animal protein in my diet. The book is an eye opener. Current factory farming and slaughterhouse practices are appalling to say the least. Some of the passages I read could have come from a horror movie. I will not go into detail about the inhumane treatment of the animals we eat but I will tell you that this cruel treatment is the norm, not the exception. Even our attempts to make ethical choices in the meat that we eat may not really be making that much of a difference in the lives of these poor animals.
I have tried to talk to a few people about my new view on meat and most respond in one of two ways. Either they think it is our right as humans to kill for food or they just "don't want to know". I used to be in the second category. I didn't know the gory details and I didn't want to know. But, by nature I am a curious person and after several discussions with a good friend about slaughterhouses (we have such appropriate lunchtime conversations) I had to know the truth. I had to know more. And now I do know more and it is overwhelming. I can not even begin to imagine the terrible existence most factory farm animals have. I was almost brought to tears several times while reading the book.
Today, at the farmers market, I saw some cows in the field next door. I walked over to take a look. Thankfully these cows were in a field, eating grass and playing. Not locked in a factory farm feed lot. But, they were beautiful, and playful, and alive. And standing there with my mother, watching them I could not imagine what terrible end they may encounter.
I don't want to be a vegetarian but I might have to be. Can I really justify this cruelty towards animals just because I like the taste of a bacon cheeseburger? Is that fair? I know the vegetarianism is not for everyone and I have no intention of converting anyone. But I do beg you to read this book. I don't think anyone can read this book and not be affected to make some change in their approach to the eating of meat.
Do you practice ethical eating?