Taking the Scenic Route

Tuesday July 19, 2005

19th July 2005

Tuesday July 19, 2005

posted in Uncategorized |

In one of those great xanga-chains, I read an article linked on MelissaTulips blog (given to her by Peacefulmama) called Meat Comes from Animals: Deal with It, or Eat Vegetables by Tigers and Strawberries (a new blog to me).

Great essay!  It really does matter what environment you were raised in as to how you view eating meat and death.

My spin-off:  Some of my observations of life and death in small rural communities vs. suburbia.

I was a farm girl.  My folks stopped raising livestock when I was around 4.5 because a tornado destroyed all the outbuildings on the farm and there wasn’t a place to keep the animals any more.  (I think my mom said that none of the animals actually died though…a miracle).  The animals went to other family members if I recall correctly.  (I am sure my mom will write in the comment section if I have any of this wrong…I was only a little thing, and I don’t really trust my memory on this one)

Even though I don’t have any first-hand memories of slaughtering animals (other than fish), I grew up with stories of it, especially when I got interested in the Little House books and started asking about butchering days and such.  It was just after 31 before I even started understanding what PETA was so upset about.  All the meat animals I had seen had better lives than many humans I know.  Lots of fresh air, acres of green grass, ponds (ok, well the chickens I knew didn’t have ponds, but they had everything else and could roam between the chicken house and the outside pens freely), trees, good feed, good health care.  They died much more humanly than most humans do too.  When I was a bit over 30, I lived in Larned, KS and saw my first feedlot.  Thousands, if not millions of cows knee-deep in their own shit, so crowded they could only stand.  Then I got it.  Until then, I really didn’t understand why people were so upset. 

When you live rurally, even without livestock, you are still much more exposed to the life and death cycle than you are if you grow up in suburbia (or urban areas, for that matter.  In urban areas you might be familiar with people dying, but probably more familiar with deaths from violence, not the natural life cycle) 

First of all, you probably grew up having animals dying, both pets and wild animals.  You are likely to have lived with a shotgun someplace in the house to protect you from rabid animals and predatory creatures.  You didn’t take pets to the vet to be ‘put to sleep’, you did it yourself.  (ok, well as a kid you didn’t, but your parents did).  If you had cats or dogs around (and most farms do), you had them leave ‘gifts’ on your doorstep on a regular basis.  It was not unusual to run across dead animals when out playing or working.  It was normal, for better or worse, normal.

Second, you were more familiar with the life cycle of humans.  As opposed to suburban neighborhoods, where people tend to live with the majority of neighbors in a similar life stage, rural communities tend to have a much more realistic mix of people.  Older people are not just people who ‘don’t know how to use their accelerator’, they are people you have coffee with, wash dishes next to after an event, or bring you their extra cucumbers and tomatoes from their gardens.  You grow up going to the nursing homes (the PC name slips me right now) and reading to them and singing Christmas Carols in the halls.  You sit next to them at church.  You help set up the chairs and tables at their funerals.  People talk about death with much more ease than they do outside rural communities.  (it might also have made a difference that the community I grew up in is deeply Christian, and mostly Mennonite).  Death is not taken lightly, by any means, but I think life is seen as precious, treasured and more fleeting, but with the promise of a different life after our earthly death.  Just another stage, not to be feared, but to be recognized so that we live in a way we don’t have the regrets many have. 

On a lighter note, I have always had some problems eating meat that has no resemblance to it’s natural state.  Meat isn’t exactly the height of health food to start with, but when it doesn’t even look like the real thing any more, you know it has been screwed with too much.  lol.  So, the people described in the blog would probably not like to eat at my place very much.  Sausage and pepperoni type things is the farthest away I really deal with, but even then, I prefer the raw sausage the has the intestines used as the tubes to the formed breakfast links you buy in the store.  Of course, some of my preference comes from my allergies to onions…if it is breaded, it is more likely that it has onion than not, and I had enough bologna as a child to last me a lifetime.  lol.

I also have two amusing stories.  First, the guy I met when I visited New York who thought milk was made in a factory and couldn’t understand what farmers actually did, even after I explained it to him.  He just kept going on and on about how horrible it was that they got government subsidies for doing ‘nothing’.    

Second, was some people we helped move from one apartment to another when we lived in LaJolla.  While we were moving, we got on the topic of food animals (when they found out I was from a farm) and they talked excessively about how they would never consider eating meat and it was morally wrong, and on and on, ad nauseam.  After we got their stuff to the new place, they were going to ’pay us’ for helping by buying us food.  They chose the restaurant, a sub shop.  One of them ordered an Italian sub (with pepperoni, salami, and proscuitto (Italian ham) ), the other ordered some gourmet thing with…get this…veal and mushrooms sauce.  Yes, veal.    While they are eating these sandwiches, they are still going on and on about their ethical food choices and glad to see we were also choosing to not eat animals (we both had the Italian subs) after talking to us, and how much more ‘evolved’ we were.  (frankly, they seemed pretty proud of themselves that they had ’converted’ us)   I really had to work to keep from choking from laughter at them.  It was clear they did not realize that they not only had meat, but pork (which was one of their major themes) and I don’t know what they thought veal was, but clearly they did not realize it was baby cow.  (and one of the main things animal activists fight against since they are often kept in close cages their whole lives to keep them from moving around)  I won’t eat veal unless I know the cow had free range, and I don’t have a problem with eating meat. lol.  I couldn’t think of a polite way to correct them, especially since they were probably 20 years older than we were, but I could not believe how uneducated they were about a subject they felt so passionately about.



This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2005 at 4:48 PM and is filed under Uncategorized. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There is currently one response to “Tuesday July 19, 2005”

  1. 1 On July 19th, 2005, SouloG said:

    Great post!  It is true that us suburban/urban dwellers just don’t have the same view of the life/death cycle that is a healthy part of farm life.  I was a vegetarian for a number of years because I really felt that the inhumane treatment of animals intended for consumption was not only unethical but also produced an unhealthy product.  I will eat organic/free range poultry and some types of fish now, but draw the line at beef/pork/veal/by-products.  The La Jolla folks you mention are a crack up!

    Glad to hear that all is well with your baby ;).

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