Is It Possible To Be An Animal Lover Yet Continue To Eat Meat?
Does this photo distress you? Have you ever given the production of meat a second thought? Do you love animals or have pets but continue to consume meat? If so does this make you a hypocrite? Well then read on my little hypocrite.
I am an omnivore. I love meat and I love catching and hunting for my own food. It must be the cavewoman in me. However, I also love animals and will go out of my way to protect them. Last year I was publically trolled by a vegan on Instagram, after posting a photo of myself next to a pig on a spit in Vanuatu.
For those of you who don’t know, a vegan is a person who chooses not to consume any animal products. This particular vegan commenter put out a public post and tagged me in it saying that I was a hypocrite and used numerous, negative descriptive words to publically humiliate me with the aim of making me feel like a horrible human.
A few months prior to this post, Lee and I were in Borneo participating in an awareness campaign about the Palm Oil Industry and the devastating effects it has on the population of orangutans. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved animals and one of my lifelong dreams was to travel to Borneo to help to save these orangutans, so one of our first projects was to do exactly that.
During the day we were helping to save the orangutans, yet each meal we consumed consisted of animal products such as fish, chicken, beef, lamb and bacon.
The vegan’s post got me thinking, am I a hypocrite? How could I say that I genuinely love animals, support the organisations that protect them, conduct my own projects to conserve them but then go home and smash a dirty steak? The vegan’s post about me was unfair, however I felt that she had a point, until I really gave it some thought and conducted my own research.
I grew up with a Dad who was a ‘semi-veggo’ and on rare occasions around the dinner table, he would say things like “oh that poor fish”, or “oh that poor cow”, which made me feel sad and did make me think about what I was eating, yet most of the time, I just ate what I was given without thinking about it. I was doing what I was programmed to do from a very young age. I know that the vast majority of people in the world, especially us meat eating Aussies, wouldn’t give a second thought to the treatment of the animals we consume on a daily basis. Eating meat is also part of our lifestyle. We love throwing a snag or chop on the barbie, knocking down a beer and doing it in the company of our mates and family. Good luck trying to take away our way of life.
The thing is that the animals we eat, the leather we wear and the milk we drink, we give no emotional attachment to it. We are not consuming it because we’re evil or self-centered, but because we’re a part of a country, society or a family that has shaped our beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviors. It’s not like we go out and mistreat and kill the lamb, or murder the chicken. We go to the supermarket and buy it without knowing anything about it. We don’t grab it off the shelf and think “hmm I wonder what this pig was like?”, or “I wonder if this chicken had a name?” We simply cook it and eat it. If we had an animal that we hand raised, looked after and ended up being friends with it, most people’s emotions wouldn’t allow them to eat that animal because it would be considered a pet, and us Aussies, we don’t eat our pets. Well I don’t anyway.
A great example of this was when I was on Survivor, day 35 and starving. There was a HUGE debate about a chicken. We had the choice of either eating it, or letting it go. None of the contestants were vegan and on numerous occasions, I would hear how much one of the guys was totally obsessed with chicken nuggets. This guy ended up giving our chicken a name, Chester (first mistake), and then became friends with it (second and final mistake). Chester became his pet. As for me, well I ignored the chicken because I knew there was a chance that I might eat it. I gave no feelings to it and every time I looked at it, I saw barbequed chicken drumsticks and delicious little wing dings that made my mouth water.
I was expecting to eat it and was willing to kill it humanly in order to feed our tribe. When it came down to making the decision, we went around in a circle and gave our opinion and voted on whether we should eat it, or let it live. I was so frustrated because 90% of the tribe said they didn’t want to eat it because it wasn’t the right thing to do, and they might be traumatized by seeing it die. Why wasn’t it the right thing to do? It felt so hypocritical because I witnessed them all eating meat previously. I thought that if they couldn’t stand watching the chicken, or any other animal being killed and produced, then perhaps they shouldn’t be eating meat at all.
It was one of the more frustrating afternoons of my time out there. I was so defeated because we were all starving and everyone was complaining about it. We had food, but no one wanted to eat it. Those wing dings were playing on my mind. Now, being in a completely different mindset to one of survival and starvation, I understand the mindsets of my fellow tribe members. We are all just products of our environments, and ignorance about the meat industry is bred into us and and causes us to not care unless we have to witness, or be a part of it.
If we take a step back and look at the consuming world, eating meat is a natural part of the circle of life. Lions eat zebras, bears eat fish, snakes eat rats, some birds eat rodents, dogs love a good bone, and the wild animals that catch their prey don’t exactly kill them in the most humane way. Humans are in this category. We are mostly omnivores, but that is not the problem. The problem is how we produce and process the animals and how we treat the animals before they die.
So where do we draw the line? The photo that started this conversation was of me sitting next to a pig on a spit that had not been cooked yet. If I put a different photo up of me with a deliciously cooked pork chop surrounded with some baked potatoes and a little side of greens, would it have the same outcome or effect on the vegan that tried to shame me? If not, then what is the difference? Or does it just look more cruel seeing the pig in this state, rather than all cooked and pretty? I believe it shouldn’t matter.
Prior to the photo being taken, I was a part of the killing process. I was in Vanuatu with my brother and Lee and before the kill we all spent time in the villages of Vanuatu. I can tell you that the pigs that grow up in these villages are happy because they grow up free range, are well fed and kids and people interact with and respect them – a totally different process to how we do it in the rest of the world.
The local people gave my brother the honor of killing the pig, and Lee and I were asked to be part of the kill ceremony. My brother was given a club and before he killed it, the Chief prayed and gave thanks for the pig’s life as we all stood around it. My brother killed it quickly and humanely and everybody started clapping and cheering for the pig that just gave us its life. It certainly wasn’t the pig’s choice to die but none the less it was a beautiful ceremony and an experience that everybody should see in order to gain some perspective to put some thought behind the meat that goes into our mouth’s.
So, how does a normal person who eats meat, put any thought behind the meat production world when they have no experience in being part of the process? The main problem is the cruel production of these animals. So what can we do in order to buy products that are cruelty free? You can start with buying meat, eggs and dairy products made by the producers you trust. These should be free range, with no added hormones, pasture raised, grain fed, organic, or with cruelty free certifications. NEVER buy caged eggs! These particular products are more expensive, but they are healthier and will expand the market for ethical products which will eventually lead to lower prices.
Creating this shift in perspective is easier said than done, but it can be done. It’s very important for meat eaters to understand the cruel production that sometimes goes on in the meat industry so that we are not buying into the mistreatment of animals.
However, it is not only the meat eaters that play a part in destroying the earth. I believe that every single human that walks this earth has a part to play in the earth going down. Vegans only eat vegetables and grains but how do people grow these things? Farmers have to destroy bush, forest and jungle land to make room to grow these foods. Farmers capture and kill the animals that lived in these areas and use pesticides and insecticides to protect them. Once the crops have been harvested, they use vehicles that use fossil fuels to transport them and plastic and foam to wrap them up. All of these things endanger and kill our environment and the animals living in it. My point is, every food, including vegetables, has blood in it and this is no exception to vegans. I believe most good humans don’t purposely want to hurt the earth or the creatures on it, we are just surviving, not by choice, a little ignorant with our set of beliefs formed from systems that aid us in choosing to eat meat. To stop our ignorance, we should be researching and purchasing ethical produce and playng our part in helping to bring awareness to the meat industry to stop cruelty towards animals.
To finish off, I still stand by my belief that loving animals and eating meat can co-exist. I also have a message for the vegan who wrote that interesting post about me. Perhaps your focus should not be on trying to convert omnivores into vegans by trolling on them on social media. That’s easy. Instead, put your money where your keyboard fingers are and create more incentive and support for uneducated meat eaters to purchase more ethical products to stop the mistreatment of animals. Humans are always going to eat meat. For me, I will continue to walk on the same journey I have been on and help to protect animal’s rights by my actions, not my words.
If you would like to change your perspective and educate yourself or your children on catching, cooking and eating your own food in a humane way, on a tropical island, our epic 10 day adventure trek in Vanuatu is a life changer and will change your perspective in many areas of your life. Enquire here