Should humans eat animals? Warning reality check ahead

This excellent post Communicating Matters of Life and Death by Judy Kennedy resonated with me this morningreality-check

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I grew up on a cropping, sheep and cattle farm in Central NSW. I raised every motherless lamb I found. My father too was a home butcher but I couldn’t go anywhere near our ‘home abattoir”.  As I get older the death of animals in my care affects me more and more emotionally. I cried for a week when the fox killed my chooks. Such a waste of life he only took 3 of the 30 he killed.

I know I over sensitised my son to death. He was even discouraged from keeping lizards as pets as I didn’t believe we had the necessary expertise to ensure their well being.

On the dairy farm I have seen both Michael and Nick shed tears when an animal they were attached to died.  We got the vet in to euthanize animals that we could not save and ensured that everyone who was hired knew that a respect for our cows and animal wellbeing was their first priority.

Running the Young Farming Champions program where agriculture’s wonderful young ambassadors who are excited about sharing their journey with people who aren’t lucky enough to have been surrounded by agriculture growing also too find sharing the farm cycle of life story with non-farmers daunting and are very committed to doing it well Our champions take their stories into the community and take the community on the journey of modern and innovative farming practices and show that we too have strong emotional values that underpin the way we do business. These relationships create accessibility to an agricultural industry that is open, transparent and available to consumers.

Pivotally our Young Champions are lucky enough to have access to the brilliant technical specialists Ann Burbrook and Greg Mills who can smooth the path for them and give them the skills to do this in a way they are comfortable with. NIDA trained actor/director.

Ann is a vegetarian and provides a great insight into why she made this choice. Ann like all of us is a consumer and understands that 99% of the cow is used by humans in some form of another and she respects that. She wears leather shoes and carries a leather handbag She has no problem with people who choose to eat meat. It’s just her personal choice not to.

I admit I am far too oversensitive to death and empathise with some animal liberationists and like Milk Maid Marian I am a proud animal activist myself. But it  is very important to put humane human consumption of animals as an energy source into perspective. Whilst I do my very best to block out the fact that something else died so I could live I am comfortable that it is the cycle of life and its common sense. Ecosystem

It’s at the heart of a balanced ecosystem. Less than 6% of this wonderful country is suitable for growing crops and our sheep and cattle are stewards of the landscape not covered by native vegetation. I respect people’s right to have access to nutritious affordable and safe food whether they choose to eat animals or not.

But let’s not kid ourselves if we all became vegetarians, humans will compete for the same food animals do and animals will be smart enough to know when its a matter of life and death they will be eating us

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Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

4 thoughts on “Should humans eat animals? Warning reality check ahead”

  1. I go around and around in circles on this, in my own head. I eat meat and I don’t feel bad about it but I don’t take it for granted either.
    We butcher our own meat on farm and I’m there when it happens, helping… and then I eat it. It’s interesting that you try to block out the fact that something died so you could live – I don’t try to do that at all and in fact I feel like I’d be doing a disservice or injustice to the animal to do that. A common thing I say is, “It is raised with dignity, killed with respect and eaten with thanks.” To me, that is enough to rationalise it within myself.
    I also believe eating animals is a part of a natural ecosystem and life cycle that has gone on since humans became humans, 40,000 years ago. Yes, we’ve changed the system a bit by developing agriculture and acquiring a taste for certain types of animals, but we must remember humans are actually animals too. We are part of the ecosystem.
    Death doesn’t always equal animal cruelty and nothing can ever justify cruelty to an animal, even if it raised for the purpose of eventually being eaten.

    1. Wonderfully put Bessie. My oversensitive moral conscience is age related. I didn’t always spend so much time trying not to think about where my meat comes from. I was comfortable enough eating meat we had raised when I was young but found in the last ten years that i cant do it so hence I am now a great supporter of commercial butchers. Hopefully when you get to my age you will remain as pragmatic as you are today

      1. Hi Lynne,
        Yes I meant to add something in there about how I wonder if my opinion will change with age, or when I have children. But then I think, that really doesn’t matter, that doesn’t make my thoughts/feelings/opinions now any less relevant. I could die tomorrow and then what I feel/think today will still be as true as ever.

        That reminds me of something else I meant to say, re the blog you linked to, “Communicating Matters of Life and Death”… I enjoyed Judy’s description of all the things she used to do growing up in western QLD, and having read other similar things previously it makes me wonder, does the reader only feel those things are OK because the writer is reminiscing about them in the past?

        The truth is all those things and more are still true for many reaches of Australia today, where we can’t easily get our food from a supermarket or butcher and we’re tasked with looking after vast amounts of environment. Environmentalism can often mean some animals lives are worth less than others… feral pigs, cats, foxes, rabbits… these animals are killed to protect the lives of native animals and improve management of ecosystems. Although I believe it’s the right thing, to look after the environment, I find the reasons they are killed as even harder to reconcile than an animal being killed to feed humans.

        But then, I live in a world where I see foxes stalking and killing lambs and rabbits, pigs attacking and eating live sheep, eagles dropping their live prey from great heights, goannas stalking birds… it really is a dog eat dog world!
        As I said, I can go around and around on this topic forever.

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