Circle of Life

Some time ago, I mentioned that our vegetarian family was making some big decisions about eating more sustainably and providing for ourselves in an effort to reduce our dependency on the grocery store.  Our goal is to become self-sufficient, and let’s face it: eating grocery store food is not self-sufficient. It’s not Earth-friendly, it’s not wallet-friendly, and it’s not sustainable in the long term.

So we had to make some choices. Remain vegetarian and rely on the grocery store when the garden is out of season, or eat some of our birds & locally-caught fish and put a huge dent in the number of grocery trips we need to make.

We went with the latter.

Jae and I had many reasons for being vegetarian and raising vegetarian children, including a concern for the welfare of farm animals. We weren’t interested in sending our birds to the local abattoir, knowing that they’d be stressed out the entire drive there, stressed out moments before death, and killed by a stranger.  The only way to ensure that our birds were treated with respect and given a stress-free death was to do the killing here at home.

And so, with a sharpened ax and a friend to lend a hand, Jae slaughtered several of our birds.  He feathered them, gutted them, and put them in the freezer.  The kids and I said words of gratitude and respect to the birds, talked about the Circle of Life, and had a very lengthy discussion about why we had chosen to kill & eat some of our chickens.  Each time we have a chicken dinner, we say a few words of thanks for the life that was given to sustain our own lives.  We eat with consciousness and awareness.  We take nothing for granted.

I don’t really know what to say when people ask me why we’ve started eating our birds – the answer is too complex and emotional to sum up in a short conversation.  Our reasons for NOT eating meat were very long, and our reasons for eating our birds are just as many.  There are the issues of food security, animal rights, environmental degradation, industrial agriculture, economic freedom, health and well-being… and how each of those things ties into the next. The world we live in is so complicated and corrupted, and we’re trying to do the best we can for our family and our planet. A few years ago I wouldn’t have thought that would mean eating meat, but now I’m in a place where it just makes sense to do so. Life is funny like that – nothing is absolute, nothing is certain.

It was not easy to make the choice. It wasn’t easy to confront death, to become the bringers of death.  But once we made the leap, we knew we had made the right choice for our family.  In every ecosystem, there is a predator.  Our farm is an ecosystem in itself, and we are at the top of the chain.  That’s just life – everything in balance, everything a circle of birth and death.  The great Circle moves us all.

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2 thoughts on “Circle of Life

  1. I never really understood the argument that animal life was more precious than plant life – but I guess it is because animals more closely resemble us and so we don’t attribute the same feelings of stress to those plants that are being ‘farmed’ the same as the animals are being farmed. Based on research I’ve done I’m inclined to think that the grocery store veggies have had similar experiences as the grocery store meat. Here is a link to an interesting study that added audio to the galvanic skin response of plants – you can hear them sigh when stroked and cry when hurt.

    http://journal.borderlands.com/2000/plants-as-sensitive-agents/

    Levels of activity we can’t usually perceive and so act as though they don’t exist.
    When I watched our organic farmer slaughter a chicken the chicken was certainly stressed, squawking and trying to escape, granted it was only a few short minutes rather than the long drawn out ride to an abbatoir. Would it be any less stressful to be killed by a loved one than a stranger – who knows but perhaps a study could measure the difference in stress.
    I’d like to see a return to local ethical food production. Profit has too long been our model at the expense of health, logic and decency. And I couldn’t agree more with your comment: “Life is funny like that – nothing is absolute, nothing is certain.” So long as we’re open to new thoughts and new knowledge we can continue to grow and expand…
    The circle of life = a mysterious ride!

    • Interesting that the chicken you saw slaughtered was stressed and squawking – that hasn’t been the experience here. Our birds seemed to have no idea what was coming and were mostly calm and relaxed. Perhaps it’s because they are used to being handled, having been held by the kids often. Perhaps because it happened so quickly there wasn’t time to be afraid.

      I’m really interested in plant consciousness and can’t wait to check out the site you linked to – thanks!

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