Should we kill animals for food?

I got a really great comment on the post I wrote yesterday, and I didn’t want it to get lost in the comments section, so I’m bringing it here.  Angelicana writes:

I wept reading this entry. I am in no way a mean spirited person. I became a vegetarian a year ago. I can not fathom raising a baby sheep from a bottle and then once it has earned my trust, shooting it while looking into it’s face. How do we justify this? Do you happen to know how smart farm animals are? Pigs have an iq comparable to dolphins. Is it really necessary to bring these helpless animals into the world so they can live alittle while and then make the choice that it’s time to take their life. Do you happen to know how much protein is in vegetables or legumes? God put them on earth to feed us. Meat only started to come into play when man became starving. When there was no other choice. You killed something you loved? How does that make any sense? Do you remember their names while eating their innards? I feel very sick to my stomach. I just wish you could realize how unnecessary it is for these animals to die for our benefit. One temporary fleeting moment of pleasure on the tongue. Beans are very cheap…

First of all, I apologize here as I apologized in the comments section for not putting up more of a warning on yesterday’s post.  I seriously considered not posting it at all, but as this is my journal (albeit a public one) in the end, I wrote what I wanted to remember.  I have since placed a warning at the top of that post.

Angelicana brings up incredibly valid points, things that I myself struggled with for a long time when we first brought our animals here.  I knew that some of them were being raised for meat, and I questioned the rightness of that.  Several months ago I wrote a blog post about it, but I felt the topic should be revisited.

The simple answer to Angelicana’s question (“how do we justify this”) is that God Himself sanctioned – even commanded – the slaughter of animals for food. For reasons I can’t begin to understand, God has set us up in a world where living things must die so that other living things can live. This fact is evidenced by the world, no matter what your religion, and even humans are not exempt from this all-encompassing rule of nature. Every living thing, at some point, becomes food for another living thing. None of us can survive, otherwise. The death of our two lambs was much less brutal than that of the zebra hunted down by the lion and yet God created the lion to hunt the zebra. If this seems cruel and wrong in my eyes, but not in God’s who made them, something is wrong with the way I’m seeing the world.

Angelicana asks if I remembered their names while my family ate their innards.  Yes, I did.  I remembered their names as I watched Jon and Patrick cut and quarter them.  I remembered their names as they washed their meat and placed it in a cooler for the family.  I remembered their names when I cut up the leftovers for the cats.  I remembered their names when I scraped their hides.  I will remember their names when we use those hides later, and I will remember their names every single time I go outside and look at the rest of my flock.  I will never forget their names.  And that is an experience of gratitude, awe, humility and love unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. The fact that I loved those two lambs makes me grateful for my food in a way that buying an all-vegetarian meal at Walmart never could.

Obviously many people feel it was wrong of us to butcher our sheep and, like Angelicana, most mention their intelligence as if it were the reason that it’s wrong.  And yet, in order to provide vegetarians with beans and rice, billions of so-called “pests” are killed every day  (even “organic” farms will use organic methods to kill what they consider pests.) Furthermore, millions of animals such as mice and birds are dying from loss of habitat to support plants and on a much more direct level of killing for human consumption, plants themselves have to die in order to feed the vegetarian, just as much as the lamb had to die in order to feed us. But in God’s eyes, is the carrot any less valued than the cow? If I could see the carrot the way God sees it, what would I see?

I listened to a beautiful recording the other day that really challenged the way I see God’s creation, and the way I naturally tend to rank the value of living beings based on my relationships with them (i.e. the dog is more valued than the cockroach [or the carrot.]) I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, so I’m grateful for the reminder to do so…

God’s Cricket Chorus

(I can’t figure out how to imbed this on the blog, so I have to link it and I hope you’ll take the time to click over and listen because it’s really incredible!)

How does God see the world?  One thing I know… He values it much, much more than I do and I pray for greater understanding, humility and love.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.

– Psalm 24:1



Related Posts:

You could never kill an animal?  You already are.
Why I’m not a vegetarian

Lambs to the slaughter

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