Animals, food, cruelty and us.
I have been watching a programme called' Kill it Cook it Eat' it every evening this week on BBC 3. ( I know I blogged about it before too) This Programme, for anyone who had not heard of it, shows the progression of the animals in question, from breeder to yard to abattoir to plate and includes a live studio audience who get to watch the slaughter and preparation of said animal. And also, should they wish, they get to taste the end result.
"The programme asks how these animals are raised, where they come from, and how they're killed and gutted. Should taste take priority over the welfare of the animal? And, ultimately, how young is too young when it comes to eating baby animals?"
On Monday it was piglets, to be made into suckling pig. Last night it was kid goats.
Now it is seriously disturbing viewing. You can see the little wee things being herded into the slaughter yard, gamboling and nervy, then they are stunned one by one with a bolt gun, then, still kicking, they are hoisted on to a chain and their throats are slit. As the blood gushed and splatters the walls, they kick their last.
It is gruesome and hard to watch.
But I believe if you are a meat eater-and I am- then you should watch, you should know from whence your food comes. You should know that when you sit down to a Sunday roast that what you are about to pour gravy over was one a young creature who had a mother and siblings and a life of its own, and that its life was cut short so that we might eat it.
I don't, I have to say, have a problem with watching slaughter, I'm from farming stock and I'm a meat eater, although I did feel bad for the age of the kids last night, it does seem awful because they are so young and so gosh darned cute. But mature goat meat is rather like mature sheep or mutton, vile. It is only when the animal is below a certain age that it is tasty to most palates.
It was however a pleasure to watch how these particular animals were raised. Not in the dark, not in tiny suffocating pens and not in pain or discomfort.
And this, not their deaths, is the point of my post today.
Jamie Oliver is hosting a show on Friday night on the wretched channel 4 which will highlight the condition in which chickens are kept and slaughtered. Expect footage of chickens being electrocuted and unwanted male chicks being suffocated.
The sequence is part of the TV chef's crusade to highlight the cruelty of battery farming, the show Jamie's Fowl Dinners, urges consumers and retailers to switch to birds reared under better welfare conditions.
Now top blogger and waiting supremeo Manuel has a link over on his site where you can register in an effort to improve the plight of our most eaten bird. If you have any interest in the welfare of our animals and food source it might be an idea to pop on over and sign.
As a meat eater I understand there is a level of cruelty involved the preparation of my dinner. Death is always ugly, and while most slaughter men do a quick and efficient job, there are some who do not. There is no need for any cruelty in the life of my dinner pre-slaughter house. The idea of animals packed tightly into cages, unable to turn, to sit, or to sleep disturbs me. The fact that some chickens from the moment they are born are kept in total darkness to keep them quiet is bothersome.
Eating an animal that has not had the chance to mature is against my better nature too. Yes there is a food chain, but where I stand on that chain is up to me.
Certainly over the last year or so my red meat intake has gone way down. I won't eat lamb or kid for that matter any longer, I no longer eat pork-except for rashers, which might also get the chop. I still like a good steak, but if I never ate one again I don't think I would weep. But chicken is a staple part of my diet-as is fish. However I now see clearly I have a very definite choice when it comes to what type of chicken I eat. And I will from now on be putting my money where my gob is. I will be seeking out only Irish bred chicken, nothing from Thailand or Asia where the standards of living for the birds is terrible, I will seek out free range birds where ever possible, and I will be taking more care and paying more attention to what and how my dinner was raised.
I will still eat chicken, unless that goes by the wayside too, and god knows anything is possible, but I will endeavour to remove my link from the chain of suffering some of these creature are subjected to.
I am not against using animals for food, but I am firmly against making them suffer before hand.
Labels: Death is always ugly.