Animals and children

This post provides a thoughtful reflection on how adults so often teach children to love and respect animals, yet to still accept animals as food. As a child and teenager, I ate meals that contained meat, fish, and seafood, as prepared by my family. I was always crazy about animals, even as a baby.  As I grew older, I remember experiencing increasing discomfort when I ate meat or fish; I couldn’t help but think of the cow, rabbit, lamb, etc., from which that food was derived.  I did not live in a culture that would have easily accepted any deviations from the dietary norms, and I was not informed enough about plant-based diets to venture into them.  The older I grew, the more uncomfortable I felt about what I was eating and the lives that had been lost. Once I was old enough to live on my own, I transitioned into vegetarianism, and eventually, into veganism.  I was fortunate to have the support of my parents, who had witnessed my love of animals over the years; while they might have been concerned at first about the health implications of a plant-based diet, they understood and accepted my decision as a natural extension of the bond I have always had with animals.  I would hope that in Canada, at least, parents and guardians of children would be open to discussing the relationship between animals and food, and to helping any child who is uncomfortable with this relationship, to explore a plant-based diet.

Seitan goodness

Fake meats are a bête noire (if you will excuse the pun) in the vegan community, for two primary reasons:  These products are often loaded with chemicals, and also because many argue that they have no reason for wanting to eat something that mimics meat.  I am not a fan of these products, mostly because of their content; they do come in handy in social environments like picnics and barbecues, however, so I don’t take a strident view on them.  I am partial to a good seitan, however, especially since it tastes less meat-like than most of these substitutes. This page provides a recipes for making seitan.

Humane meat: Onion style

Another take on the question of humane meat, in the inimitable Onion style:

Consumers today are more conscientious than ever about the choices they make at the supermarket. They want to know that the food they put on the table for their family is all-natural, environmentally friendly, and humane. And that’s why we here at Nature’s Acres Ranch hold ourselves to a higher standard and produce only the finest grass-fed and 100 percent additive-free beef. We guarantee that our cows are ethically raised on sustainably grown pastures before we hang them upside down from a moving conveyor and slice their throats wide open.

Not-so-humane meat

The latest mantra that I hear from many meat eaters is that they eat only meat that is raised humanely, is not confined, killed humanely, and so forth.  The bottom line, however, is that regardless of whether an animal was raised humanely or in a factory farm, it will still be killed.  Humane meat is a way, perhaps, of easing one’s conscience to the fact that what sits on your plate was once a living, breathing, and sentient creature, but the animal is still dead.  This article poses some interesting questions about the oxymoron that is “humane meat, ” such as whether people would be willing to eat dogs that were raised humanely for consumption, or whether people would be willing to kill an animal humanely themselves.  I suspect that most meat eaters would respond with a resounding “no,” but in the first instance, what is the actual difference between eating a dog raised for that purpose, versus a cow, goat, lamb, and so forth?  Why is one considered barbaric or wrong, while the other dinner?  In the second instance, if you buy and consume meat, someone has killed the animal on your behalf.