I don’t think vegetarians eat meat….

I can’t quite remember how long ago I stopped eating meat, but I remember why.

I always struggled taking my well handled Angus steers to market, watching their confusion at being pushed through the sale yard. Every time my girls would calve I’d hope for a heifer, knowing I could keep her for my breeding program, yet a bull calf meant growing for market.

Mini taking a swim

Unless of course I named them, like Fabio, a handsome and huge Angus x Dexter, the first calf I bred out of Baby my lovely Angus cow. He stayed with me for 18 years until I had him PTS (because of old age ailments) in the paddock where he was born.

Fabio with his mother, and pictured with my late Father, my brother, and our dog Waddles.

At some point though I decided if I couldn’t send my own cattle off to be sold or to slaughter, then I couldn’t eat someone else’s. Basically if I couldn’t end the animals life myself, then I didn’t eat it, because I couldn’t guarantee their treatment once they left me. Although I still needed to buy meat to feed my dogs and cats, and there lay a fleeting thought about one day being able to provide for them myself.

Baby

Fast forward to now, having had many discussions as a family, and pondering things myself, we decided that we would embark on trying to provide our own meat for our family, and eventually for our dogs and cat. Breeding or even buying chickens means more cockerels than most can manage with regard to flock health and well-being, so we flagged chickens as being our starting point to harvesting our own meat, ensuring they lived a really good life, and being in control of their one bad day.

I was still unable to name the cockerels we decided to harvest, we made sure they were well handled, but I’ll admit to staying more emotionally distant from them, knowing their fate. We did lots of research on the most humane ways to end their lives, and we had many discussions as a family about how and what we would do, how we felt about it, perhaps changing our minds, doubt, fears and all the rest.

Taking their lives wasn’t easy, it was a very strange feeling taking the life of a healthy animal. I’ve had to put many animals down over the years with and without veterinary help depending on the circumstances, this was no less impacting. Our house was definitely somber, and we talked a lot about our feelings and the gravity of taking an animals life as we prepped the carcasses for meals and storage.

So now I’ve stepped over the threshold from vegetarian to omnivore, we are still a highly plant based home, but we are very much aiming to be more self sufficient in providing meat for our pets, and for ourselves – our whole aim is to reduce our impact by reducing our food km, reducing waste, using animals as part of our regeneration and soil building. I can only hope that our children will make a considered decision every time they decide to eat meat, especially about its origin, it’s life and it’s end.

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