Do you have a pet that you adore? Is there a story as to how they came into your life? Were they adopted or a stray that wandered into your living room?
When my boyfriend, Shaun, was 10 his parents allowed him to adopt a little golden puppy. Part golden retriever part who the fuck knows, she was the apple of his eye. He talks about the day she was adopted with such adoration and even boldly declared a few weeks ago that he loved his dog as much as he loves me (que insecurity). However, sadly, on saturday just past Shaun and his family made the heart wrenching decision to put the dog down at the ripe old age of 15. She could not have lived a better life, nor could she have had more doting and loving owners.
Shaun was so upset by having to lay her to rest that he took Friday off work and decided to spend the weekend at home instead of coming to London to visit me (we life about 1.5 hours away from eachother and take turns commuting on the weekends to visit). His mum cried and apparantly didn’t even want to discuss the event. His dad cried too. They buried her in the backyard and then spent the rest of their weekend remembering their beautiful dog and how having her as part of their family had enriched their lives.
Then, something occurred to me: if Shaun’s parents had so much love for a dog, how were they then able to justify serving up the muscle of a cow for their dinner the very same night they had cried over a dogs death?
I was, and still am, a little perplexed by this complete and utter divorce in reactions. I’ve analysd, un-picked and mulled over this question for the last few days and I’ve come to my own personal conclusion that perhaps most people are able to mourn and cry over the loss of a pet but fry up a section of a pig for breakfast and feel nothing but satisfaction because of a disconnect between themselves and what is on their plate.
For example lets look at a cow. Cattle give birth on farms, in most scenarios, after 9 months of gestation, akin to that of humans. A little calf is born with gangly limbs and big brown doe eyes. The calf will feed off of it’s mothers milk and get fatter and bigger as the months go by. Just like cats and dogs cows have temprements, and as a calf starts to mature it will develop it’s own personality and habits. It might be shy, it might be outgoing. It could be spooked easily or be confident. Cows are generally also very social creatures that enjoy being with a herd.
Cows are also known to form loving relationships with humans that they have regular contact with, just like a pet would. When a cow reaches maturity it will graze on grass, laze in meadows and lap up the company of other animals around. It will live it’s life mostly in this fashion until it dies of old age around 15.
However, the cow that ends up on your plate has been lead at some point in his or her life down the garden path, so to speak, and murdered for no other reason than for food. Sometimes this is a swift, clean, fairly effecient process. But, sometimes a cow is killed in a dirty abotoir dripping with stinking sticky bloody. The cow is kicked and hit and electrocuted and has it’s throat slit slowly, bleeding to it’s death whilst being hacked away at.
Who cries for these cows? Who loves these cows? They do not get the adoration and care and dignity that a domesticated pet receives. There is no burial, no one will mourn. And the same people who eat their rotting flesh are the same people that splutter and wail over a dead dog.
But these people have not seen the cow they are eating. They have not lived with the cow, or seen it born and grow from a doe eyed calf to a strong and boisterous adult. They didn’t see the fear and distress in it’s eyes as it was lead to it’s death inside a shed.
I am not saying that everyone should give up meat. In my ideal world that would be the reality, however I relaise that it’s not possible for everyone to do this for a plethora of reasons. However, I am offering this proposition instead: if you eat meat, the next time you look down at the flesh and blood of a dead animal on your plate aknowledge it’s sacrifice for your satiation. Aknowledge that you are the reason this creature is dead. Be mindful of this creatures life and be thankful for its existence. Instead of wolfing down the meal, take a moment to do this and see how it feels. Did you feel differently about the food you were eating? Did you feel the exact same? Do you think I’m full of bullshit?