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Killing is Killing

By Linden Mackey, Guest Contributor

Animal products that are humanely raised are more available today – expanded offerings in traditional grocery stores, specialty butchers able to tell you what local farm raised the cow or pig you will be eating, food cooperatives that source humanely-raised chickens and eggs are almost commonplace.

Eatwell Farm in Dixon, CA recently publicized their change in flock to Black Austrolorps, a heritage breed producing both good laying hens and roosters who can be raised for food instead of being destroyed as newly-hatched chicks. Lorraine & Nigel Walker comment, “We will have even better eggs and ethically produced meat for those who want it.”

Of course it’s better to raise animals more humanely than not, but doesn’t it raise another aspect of conscience?

The current factory system of producing animals relies on humans desensitizing themselves to the fact that animals are living beings with just as many rights – by pretending that animals are lesser than us.

But if you rightly treat animals as beings deserving the same rights as humans – expending the time and resources treating them as such, allowing freedom for their natural instinctive behaviors, not confining or mutilating them, feeding them their proper diet – if you raise animals humanely, recognizing that they are more like us than not, how do you then bring yourself to kill them?

I recently saw a really skewed ad for Good Eggs, whose mission is “to grow and sustain local food systems worldwide.” Standing in a grassy meadow before a sprawling ranch house, a man stands with an avuncular hand resting on a steer’s head. “Eat with us” he invites, as though the cow will be joining us at the dinner table, rather than being eaten off of it. This is supposed to make people feel better, that the animals they will be eating have, at least, led good lives up until the moment of slaughter.


A disconnect of consciousness remains, one that Frank Reese speaks to, although he has raised turkeys in the most humane manner for 30 years:

In the fall, while other people are giving thanks, I find myself apologizing. I hate seeing [the turkeys] on the truck, waiting to be taken to slaughter. They’re looking back at me, saying ‘Get me off of here’ … Sometimes I justify it in my mind that I can at least make it as good as possible for the animals in my custody… I tell them, ‘Please forgive me.’ I can’t help it. I personalize it… These turkeys are used to me, they know me, and [when I] open the gate… they’ll come in. But at the same time, I put thousands on trucks and send them off to slaughter. – Eating Animals

It’s just not good enough. Treating animals well in life doesn’t make it acceptable to eat them at some later point. No one would think it acceptable to eat Grandma, who has reached her prime, and after all, has already had a good life.

Photo credit: Linden Mackey