Saturday, February 23, 2008

Meat is...?

I will start off by saying that I like a good steak. And a good cheeseburger. And hot links, bacon, grilled chicken, and grilled salmon. But more and more I wonder if eating meat is the ethical choice.

Greg Boyd in his blog has compiled his reasons for choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. I haven't read all of it because, quite frankly, I don't want to fully engage with the issue. But one has to wonder if our way of providing meat for our table is the best, most ethical, way.

The recent attention focused on the Hallmark/Westland slaughterhouse for their practice of mistreating sick and injured cows is sobering. If your job is to kill hundreds of cows every day, is it surprising that you might develop a cavalier attitude toward their lives?

In the past (the golden, perfect past) a farmer might raise an animal for his own table. He raised it knowing that the animal was destined to become food. When the time came, the farmer (or a neighbor) slaughtered the animal with respect for the sacrifice the animal made. The farmer would not dream of mistreating the animal.

We have an insatiable appetite for meat in this country. Many people eat meat with every meal. I generally eat meat with at least two meals every day. Where does my meat come from? The supermarket where it comes on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in clear plastic. Something died so I could buy a pound of hamburger or a tri-tip.

I tend to lose sight of the fact that hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of animals are killed every year so I can fill my belly. These animals are part of God's creation. These animals are not just raw materials for the food factory, but are living and breathing creatures.

I am not personally ready to make the leap to removing meat from my diet. I do think I could cut back my consumption of meat. I could also try to buy meat from producers who raise and slaughter the animals ethically (free-range, grass fed). It might be difficult and more expensive but it could be done.

If you are an old fan of The Smiths, like me, you 'll know the answer to the question in the title is "murder."


Judy said...

That's why I like living here. I buy beef that was raised on my friends' farm, grass fed, no hormones or antibiotics, and humanely slaughtered in a small butcher shop. Since we live so close to the source, it is sometimes cheaper than the market. The other meat we have was killed humanely by my husband, he didn't even know what hit him.

TimB said...

It's nice to have that option. I suspect we have similar options here in SoCal. I'll have to do some research.