Ethical Farming, What’s your perspective?

“Is vegetarianism and veganism about animal welfare or moral superiority?”

I woke up this morning to a feed of articles on GOOGLE and I found this one quite interesting and had to ask myself this question.  It is an opinion article about Animal Rights by Leslie Cannold which should make a vegetarian or vegan ask themselves, what are you fighting for and why. I think only we, ourselves, can answer this question and the response will vary in degree on how we feel about animal rights and a no-kill philosophy.  I think this is a good question to ask ourselves, from time to time, as we journey on this lifestyle path.  Why are you motivated to eat and live this life?  Why am I motivated to eat and live this life?

For myself, I love animals (with the exception of a few insects and reptiles) but I would never intentionally inflict a cruel, torturous harm or death on them.  Nor would I want to eat them because I feel Karma can be a bitch that comes back to bite you later.

I did not grow up vegetarian or vegan. We raised our animals as pets, and when they passed away, we buried them or cremated them in the yard.  The only exception was for our chickens and ducks, we did eat their eggs.  Our home was unofficially known as the animal dumping ground. People would drive by at night and leave a box full or package full of puppies and kittens and we would raise them. I remember going to check the mail on afternoon and finding a lonely baby kitten in the mailbox.  Now that is cruel! We lived along a riverbed and when there was a flash flood, my dad would go down to the river to save animals that got washed down in the flood waters.

Most of our chickens and ducks came to be our pets after a flooding episode.  We never ate these animals, we raised them, fed them and they were loyal to us and vice versa.  So, for me, becoming a vegetarian might have been in the stars, I just never knew it.  My heart broke every time we lost one of them to illness, accident or the attack by another animal coming into our property.

We had a mountain pig as a pet, named Susie.  She was spoiled and grew to about 300 lbs, eating fresh pineapple bran (my dad worked for the Del Monte’s pineapple processing plant) and oatmeal that my dad cooked, yes cooked, for her every morning.  I did say she was spoiled. How many pigs get a hot meal at 5 a.m. in the morning – EVERYDAY?  Susie lived a long healthy and I’d like to think happy life. She slept with the ducks, chickens and even the cats. The dogs stayed away because when she was angry, she would hurt them, nothing mortally wounding but enough to send them yelping in the other direction.  She hated the mongoose that would come into our yard because they would steal chicken and duck eggs and kill the baby chicks.  A few times we found them dead in her pig pen, which I suspect they were trying to get into her food bowl and that was not happening as far as Susie was concerned.

We had a bull, not a cow, so no milk.  He was a runt and my dad brought him home from a friend who was going to put him down.  We raised him, Bully, on pineapple bran and fresh-cut buffalo grass.  He grew into a BIG BOY, he was not a runt anymore.  He lived under our home, which was a 2 story home with an unfinished, dirt & grass, basement area. On the weekends, my dad would walk him over to the neighboring pasture to graze from Friday night to Sunday night.  Until one weekend morning, my dad went over to the pasture and found he had broken both his legs on some rocks, that were hidden by tall buffalo grass, and Bully was not in good shape.  He had been out all night, wounded and in pain, and did not look good at all.  We did the humane thing and put him out of his misery, we cremated his body on the spot. A sad day for a 12-year-old girl would hand feed her bull, everyday from bottle feeding him milk as a calf to fresh vegetables, fruit, and grass for three years.

So you see for me, becoming a vegetarian starts with early beginnings of my life as a child, not killing animals.  If my dad raised them to be consumed, maybe my thoughts would be different towards ethical farming practices. I would not say we had a farm, but to our neighbors we did.  To me we had a place of refuge for animals that needed some TLC, to live their life in a non-threatening environment (from humans at least) and as a kid I got to watch, experience and enjoy it all.

We did eat meat, store bought, which I think is where I draw the line for my meat eating ways.  The animals that are commercially farmed do not have any quality of life or death. They may not even realize it if they are born into that system.  How can you miss something you never had, right?  Nonetheless the process in which they are raised/kept/farmed is not humane, it is not healthy, it is not environmentally sustainable, it is far from ethical. Prisoners on death row get better treatment than these animals. Now if farming practices changed would I go back to eating meat? NO.

I have vivid memories growing up, the pets we had and I just couldn’t go back to eating meat. We have two hens, raised for eggs only, Ms. Salt & Ms. Brown Sugar. We had three but one passed away from uterine cancer last year.  We buried her, Ms. Pepper, in the back yard, under the avocado tree that she used to sleep under on hot days.  We have a memorial sign in her name on the hen house and she will forever be in our hearts.  My soft spot for animals is part of my DNA and I can’t go against what I know to be right in my heart.  Ethically farmed or not, my meat eating days are over.

What’s your story?  What’s your perspective?  Search your soul and do what you believe to be right.

From my hear to your …
-Tracy-