The sentiments expressed in today’s letters responding to last week’s piece on the importance some chefs place on animal slaughter aren’t surprising. (I had a similar discussion with a reader in the comments section.) The meat-eating debate often seems to be the gastronomic equivalent of the abortion debate: both sides so entrenched — and not even arguing over the same basic points — that there is no way to reach a middle ground.
Anti-meat-eating letter writer Kathryn Dalenberg is right: “Killing innocent life is killing is killing is killing.”
But so is pro-meat-eating Mary Hammett: “If you can not look a Mediterranean daurade in the eye, you have no right to eat it!”
The problem is that often we have a hard time understanding how someone can both respect an animal and kill (and eat) it. Doug Havel has been butchering for over two decades, beginning on disassembly line and now in his own small abattoir (and I’m glad that Heritage Food USA partner Sarah Obraitis points out that small slaughterers are the vital connection between family farms and consumers). The first pig he ever slaughtered his dad’s pet Fred: “Then he was Dead Fred.”
It is possible to respect animals and still kill and eat them. But yes, it is still killing. And killing is killing is killing, no matter how humanely or carefully or respectfully it is done.