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.