Friday, June 4, 2010

Why I Choose to Eat Meat

Back when I was a kid (we'll say 20 to 30 years ago), vegetarians were few and far between and were often thought of as a little strange. Now, it seems, being a vegetarian or vegan is the "stylish" thing to do. More and more people of all ages are making the choice not to eat meat for reasons that make sense to them.

The majority of the population continues to eat meat because that's what they have always done, as their parents did before them. As our ancestors figured out, eating meat is an easy way to get protein, and most of it just tastes good.

I put myself in a different meat-eating category. I have a made a very conscious decision, and I "choose" to eat meat. I know it comes from animals, and I realize those animals' lives were cut short for my sustenance. This is something I think about each time I sit down to a meal, and I am grateful.

As a true lover of animals, I will admit that going meatless crossed my mind a couple times. I am the kind of person who never kills a spider, carefully removes creepy-crawlies from my home, and stops traffic to see a turtle or family of ducks safely cross the road. My taste buds and feeling of hunger satisfaction, however, quickly transformed me back into the omnivore that I am.

Now, one could ask how I can eat meat when animals are being mistreated (recent Conklin Dairy video would be a good example) or are forced to live in confined conditions. In my good opinion, acts of such mistreatment are few and far between, and I believe that anyone who abuses animals in this way should be punished as if they had assaulted a fellow human. Confinement, or as I like to think of it has a more controlled habitat, has become a necessary practice to meet demand. There are more people, less farmers and less land to produce these animals.

Do the animals like their confined conditions? Would they rather be running free? While I don't have cows or chickens at the moment, I do have horses. It has been 90 degrees or higher the last several days. They have free run of the barn and a five acre pasture with lots of shade trees. I CANNOT MAKE them leave the confinement of their stalls. Why? The barn has a large fan and is generally free of all the blood-sucking bugs. They also know that I come to feed them twice a day.

I also have to think about the many times I have watched the animal shows on TV. Prey animals are free game for the not-so-nice hunting practices of their predators. I have seen animals being eaten while they are still alive. If I were the prey, I'd say "sign me up for farm life any day!" And on the flip side, I wonder if animal activists want to tell lions, tigers, eagles, crocodiles, sharks, etc. that they should not eat other animals because it's not the "nice" thing to do.

And when I hear, "I don't want to eat anything with a face," or even most recently, "I don't like to eat things with eyelashes" (you've got to be kidding me), it saddens me. WARNING, I'M GOING INTO PHILOSOPHER MODE - Who is to say the cow with long eyelashes and a calf by her side is any more important than the clam that quietly crawls across the ocean floor, or the tomato plant. I don't think of even myself as more worthy of a life on earth than any other living creature, be it plant, animal or fungus. We all WANT to survive.

The fact is, if one organism eats, another organism is sacrificed for its survival. What we can do as humans is to provide the animals we consume with the utmost respect that we can. I truly believe that most all livestock farmers are doing this today. They have to... it is their livelihood.

While I think the ideal situation - the most natural situation for which we were born to do - would be for us to produce, raise or hunt for our own food, those days are long gone. A lot of us are more worried about getting to our air-conditioned home to view the latest episode of "Glee" while tweeting our tweeps and planning our island vacations. Therefore, I place the care of my food, be animal or vegetable, in the hands of our farmers. The farmers that produce with compassion and heart are my heroes. The animals that give their lives so that I can be a part of this world are my saviors.

My omnivore diet provides me and my family the nutrients we need without having to load up on supplements or come up with creative diet plans. As long as I recognize the fact that hamburgers don’t magically appear in the meat case, and our farmers are taking good, responsible care of their animals, I will continue to “choose” to eat meat.


  1. Well said! I hope everyone reads this post. Nicely done! ~TheFarmgirl

  2. You put in words what I struggle to! Thanks for writing it down and sharing!

  3. Well done! Thanks for putting things in perspective. I will be passing this post on.

  4. Awesome post!! As a beef producer that takes the responsiblity of caring for animals very seriously I thank you!

  5. Our Hats are off to you. Wish more folks could see farmin' an' ranchin' this way.

  6. What a great post! Thank you for your support of American farmers and ranchers and choosing to keep meat in the healthy diet of your family.

  7. I think it's ethical to eat meat, as long as you give the animals a life worth living and a painless and stress-free death. The problem is that there are real animal welfare issues in the industry. These issues I refer to are ones Temple Grandin talks about in her book Animals Make Us Human (which I recommend to all those who haven't read it). For example, click on this link,

    Then click where it says Page 210. Start reading where it says Three Problems: Handling, Industry Practices, and Genetics.

    There's also the issue of gestation crates (sow stalls). Temple Grandin said: "Sow stalls we need to get rid of, plain and simple. Putting a sow in a box where she can't turn around for most of her life, that's absolutely not acceptable." "I think gestation crates for pigs are a real problem ... I mean basically you’re asking a sow to live in an airline seat."

    More info about Grandin's views:

    See a pen system in action:

    And just to make it clear, farrowing crates are okay, because they do protect the piglets. The issue is gestation crates.

  8. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for believing in us! You can come to Kansas and visit our farm/ranch anytime!

  9. To quote a dear friend of mine, "Even on nice family farms, meat eating involves death 100% of the time and there is not an animal in the world who will die willingly. I see people hide behind "free range" and "pasture-fed" as reasons why it's OK to eat meat when if they had to slaughter the animal or hack up it's body themselves, they would never in a million years be able to eat it. But meat comes to us all cut up and clean and neat and it's easy to forget the horrific fear, attempt to escape, knife, chains and violence that came a few days before."

  10. Christy, I appreciate your comments, but eating plants also involves death 100% of the time. And I'm not talking about the plants. Animals are killed in the preparing of crop and vegetable land either by tilling, destruction of their habitat, or the removal of pests (insect and mammal). Nothing wants to die willingly.

  11. Why do you stop for turtles in the road? Why not hop out, grab it, and make some turtle stew later? Why not eat that spider? Protein! Not appetizing? Doesn't taste good? Oh, so they're safe. Tasting good is not an excuse to eat meat. It's a reason. And if you want to eat meat, by all means, go ahead. But if you have to defend yourself in the process, I wonder who you're trying to convince.

    Flawed logic:
    We're not lions. Also: a lion doesn't torture her prey by breeding them to feed her family (and other lions for profit). Only humans are intelligent enough to be that cruel. But like every animal, they have survival instincts. When you see an animal being eaten alive on Animal Planet, you are seeing the same thing you would see if you saw someone being stabbed to death. You know what that person/animal is thinking? "I want to get out of this alive." Pain is rarely involved until after the incident is over, and for a lion's meal, that's long before the adrenaline wears off. For factory farm animals, nature provides no escape, for the act of torturing an animal is a crime against nature that even wild beasts don't commit. Nope - we're not like lions at all.

  12. Well put, Mandy!

    This entire blog just feels like propaganda to me.

  13. THANK YOU so much for this post! Really appreciate it! We'll keep working hard to make your food!

  14. That has got to be some of the dumbest crap I have ever read!!! Why didn't you just say that you love animals grilled, roasted, broiled, boiled, steamed, raw, medium raw, well done, burned etc. but you do not love animals in any way that respects life but your own.

  15. Any person interested in the truth could see that factory farming results in almost unending torture and horrific deaths for those animals. If you're going to "choose meat" please have the decency to at least visit the farms where your meat comes from to see that the animals are living in air conditioned mini-mansions and killed willingly in their sleep before you eat them.

  16. Please read the book Eating Animals written by someone who actually investigated these farms. It will change your mind!

    But my main question for you is ... if you can say this:

    Who is to say the cow with long eyelashes and a calf by her side is any more important than the clam that quietly crawls across the ocean floor, or the tomato plant.

    how can you say that your horse is more deserving of life than a cow? What if I wanted to buy your horse to eat? You'd flip out. They are all the same ... sentient beings.

    And your comment to Christy is nonsensical. Plants don't have the complex neurological systems to even comprehend that they are alive, suffering, or dying. They don't feel pain when the bees sting them.

    I don't care that you are eating meat. By all means do, if you really care about the flavor. But to put even more inaccurate information out there ... that is just wrong.

  17. Please read The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. I am not one to convert but I do believe that everyone has a right to know the truth. If you still want to eat meat - that's your decision but I don't want you to be naive about it.

    No animal wants to die. To think that living a cruelty-free life and being killed in humane practices is okay is fooling your self. Think about if you have to put your dog down - they flip out. Because animals know when they are going to be killed. They can spell the fear of other animals.

    Also, most farms are not cruelty-free and they are certainly not organic.

    Again, it is your decision but please be informed before you post things like this because most of what you said is not fact.

  18. Your blog is wonderful! I really appreciate you comments and that you are opening up the lines of communication!

    I've sent so many people to your blog - can't wait for more!

  19. Jennifer! Thanks for posting this.
    As a farmer who feeds the world and cares about the world I can assure you that I take the very best care of my animals. Any of you all are more than welcome to come look at my farm and see just how good the aniamls have it. Thats my question to you all who do not eat meat.
    Have you ever been to a farm?
    Have you ever been to a harvesting facility?
    Do you really know the entire process? Or have you just heard about it. Get the facts than make your decisions. Go out and experience what life on a farm is liek adn what farm families are like.
    One fact for you is that Beef has the most readily available source of iron and being female I know the importance of Iron in my diet and I want whats best for my body and my family. So I'll contuine to do whats best for my body by eating meat!

  20. Yes, I've been to family farms. I used to live near them. I used to go to sleep at night hearing the cows MOO in the distance. In my area, there are TONS of them. But they are not providing all of the food for all of the country. I also said that I read a book by someone who DID visit and investigate the farms and slaughterhouses that supply the majority of food to our stores and restaurants.

    I don't eat meat because I went to a farm and was licked by a cow. Just like my cats lick me. I couldn't think of that sweet face and still eat the flesh of a cow. It's taking a sentient life. Just for me. No reason for an animal to die to feed me, there are tasty vegetables and other plants for me to eat.

    As far as iron goes, plants provide enough. I have been vegetarian for six years, and have never been anemic in that time. However, 20 years ago, I would regularly get turned down for donating blood because my iron was low. And I was eating meat. Every day, every meal.

    I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally since giving up eating animals.

  21. You ask how humans should judge the importance of different plant and animal species. Several philosophers and scholars have ways of answering this question. First, we should dispense with the argument about plant pain. Although many plants have evolved complex chemical processes, there’s no evidence that plants experience pain or have desires of their own (since they lack a nervous system or anything resembles a nervous system).

    Clams are animals, and they do show a pain response. But like all bivalves, they have such a rudimentary nervous system that it’s unlikely they can suffer or have desires. Bivalves do perform vital functions in marine ecosystems, so we shouldn’t over harvest them. When raised sustainably, including by farming, the ethical concerns of eating oysters, clams, and other bivalves are minimal.

    Cows, like many mammals, have complex brains. Cows have well-developed memory systems; they can learn where good foods are located, which foods to avoid, etc. They can experience pain. This isn’t sentimentality; it’s based on biology — cows have pain receptors in their peripheral nervous system and have the necessary structures in their brain to process these pain signals. They can form associative memories — they can learn to associate certain experiences and stimuli with physical pain. They form familial bonds and show signs of stress (increased heart rate and stress hormone levels in their blood) when separated from offspring or parents. All of these abilities increase the ethical considerations involved with raising and killing cows.

    Humans can eat a healthy diet without killing sentient animals. A variety of affordable, readily available cuisines have excellent vegetarian dishes (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Indian, to name a few).

  22. Bravo! Great post. Its funny how the vegan trend has really taken off. Its a personal decision that we all have the right to make. Unfortunately there's a large group of people who can not accept that it is your choice, and that it is not their place to decide for you. There was a point people stopped forcing religion upon one another, in this country vegans for the most part have become vigilant about forcing their opinions upon you.

    They know best, and our opinions are not worth spit. I'm all about the better treatment of animals. *pigs should be pigs* I really dislike when people try to force their values on others, no matter what the subject is. This is America, we DO have the right to decide what we eat... for now.

  23. I'm a little behind in reading this blog post, but I find it appropriate since I just recently made the decision to stop eating meat. I don't find it wrong to eat meat by any means, but I think that people should make the educated decision to do so. You have a unique perspective because you have seen first hand exactly where food (specifically meat) comes from. Most people don't have that luxury, and I think that if they had to see animals be slaughtered or do it themselves their view would be altered if not changed completely. I believe everyone should educate themselves on agricultural practices and proper nutrition, and make an educated decision on what they feed their family. The term "conscious eating" was in a book I recently read, and i've adapted that attitude in my nutrition.

    My decision to stop eating meat was a complex one, dealing with both health/nutrition and animal welfare issues. While I don't see anything wrong with eating meat, I always felt uneasy about eating something that was once alive. Again, that is a personal issue that I have, and I by no means expect anyone else to see it that way. There are health benefits one can gain from cutting animal products out of their diet, and I decided to experiment with that and see how it effected me. So far i've seen positive changes so I will stick with it for now. But my main goal is to fully educate myself on all aspects of nutrition and where food comes from, and that includes information from both sides. You blog is definately helping me do that, so I thank you. :-)

  24. As a dairy farmers wife...I thank you very much for this blog post.

    We also sold produce for 14 years...I'm sorry vegans and vegetarians...But plants get sick and die too. The slightest frost takes care of them in the fall.

    I personally think that a well balanced diet that includes all aspects of food is what a person needs. God placed the animals that roam the land, the fruit in the trees, the grains that grow, the seeds that grow vegetables for a reason. We are the most complex species that roams this earth and we need these things in a balanced form. We also need to take care of all living things whether its plant form or animal.

    We also need legislation to eliminate factory farms. Not far from us is a 8,000 cow dairy on 20 acres...that is not right. They get grants from the state because they are creating jobs but at what expense?

    My husband and I have come to the conclusion that we will grow and harvest our own food. Seeing factory farms makes me sick.

  25. Pain does not require a brain to be felt. The definition of pain from Merriam Webster's website is: the physical suffering caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body. The medical definition from the same website: a state of physical, emotional, or mental lack of well-being or physical, emotional, or mental uneasiness that ranges from mild discomfort or dull distress to acute often unbearable agony, may be generalized or localized, and is the consequence of being injured or hurt physically. Plants can have a physical lack of well-being that is a consequence of being injured. Studies have been done that do show plants experience pain. Quit deriding this poor woman based upon your own false presumptions!

    As a side note, there are plenty of ANIMALS that do NOT have brains that feel pain as well. The starfish comes first to mind. Or is that not alive enough for you?


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