For an animal lover and long time vegan it was hard to conceive of eating meat for myself, even if I could feed it to my family. I had long before accepted that eating eggs was a whole and healthy protein source for my diet – as long as from my own chooks that I fed, loved and nurtured. I like to know EXACTLY where my food is coming from!
I slowly added some dairy to my diet although it has never really agreed with me (perhaps subconscious memories of the sour, warm, cream rich aluminium top bottles from break-time in my primary school years – yeuch!) When the few steers went either to the sales or slaughter (Hector the Protector, Harry etc) I cried and cried. Harry fed Ben and Ged for almost 3 years. One steer, much loved, no waste.
But I tasted the lamb a few times (picking over the choicest cuts, nibbling hesitantly) and remembered that I had eaten lamb before in my early 20’s when too skinny and unhappy and my sister was worried about my weight! It was ok to eat a boy lamb who had been driving me crazy squeezing under fences to whittle away my garden. We always knew that was where the boys would end up. My precious, beautiful ewes were a source of endless joy and delight as they gradually came to love and trust me. When the wild dogs hunted them down and murdered them so cruelly I was seized with rage against a Mother Nature who was so cruel and wasteful. As I dragged their dead bodies behind the car to the animal graveyard to feed the crows, goannas, eagles and other scavengers . . . such a waste of my beautiful girls.
And I realised that at the end of any of our lives all we can hope for is that we have helped someone, served someone, been of use, of purpose. That our lives have been a waste. And these animals of ours were living blissful lives on a piece of paradise. We are all going to die. Every one of us. Some will be killed in accidents, by others, some will die at a time of their own choosing. If a live serves another or others in a useful way – is that so bad? If it has been a happy life, a rich and rewarding life, filled with love?
These are the questions I wrestled with. Questions to which there are no cut and dried answers (no matter what PETA may say!) I learned to walk a middle path, to tread the fine line between my spiritual beliefs and the base nature of the human body. Is it possible that I could be learning balance??
We had bought two pigs to grow up for slaughter. But I couldn’t bear to be parted from Saddleback Sam and Babe. So we got two more which Ben named gleefully. We took them to the abattoir ourselves and arrived just after a triple decker of glowing white pigs, blinking in the bright sunshine. They had never seen dirt or mud or sunshine before. Never rooted up pasture, digging for grubs and roots. Never wallowed in cool muddy shallows or had the hose cascading over their backs in the heat of the day. Never made a nest with weeds and grasses. Never really lived. And yet that is what most people eat. Now that is wrong.
I cried and cried over our two gloriously dirty and bristled pigs. I know why pigs eyes are always so sad – because they know that almost all pigs are slaughtered and eaten . . . at least ours got to LIVE before they died. I never thought I would be able to eat them. For a long time I resisted the wafting savoury smells of good bacon in the pan. Finally I succumbed and was floored by the rich, smoky complex flavours and the sweetness of the fat. We were like ‘Jack Spratt and his wife’ The boys would eat the meat while I would greedily suck at the fat. I realised I was fat starved after years of following a low fat diet.
Now I eat meat maybe once a week. I am a convert to the fact that the body needs a little meat. Pastured. Ethically raised and reared. No waste. Eaten with respect and honour. And that is what we provide and serve to our customers. Grown with love, served with passion, eaten with respect.