Last summer, I did a cooking demo at which I read some scenes of livestock death. I wrote about it here. Yesterday, from visitor Artfulhome, came this comment:
Big of you to want to have a connection to the poor animal who died painfully and fearfully for your “fatty, juicy and delicious” dinner. I hope it was worth it. Anthony Bourdain has disgusted me with his macho bullshit where he seems to think that watching an animal’s brutal, violent killing somehow elevates him, and the pleasure he takes in eating its remains. It is a radical idea in this country, that perhaps we should be more advanced than to torture and kill to live well, when we really don’t have to. I love eating and cooking too, but am this close to becoming a raving vegan. The meat counter at my local supermarket has begun to smell like death to me, no matter that they sell free range, organic meat; that the animal had perhaps a slightly healthier, more pleasant life than most in its place is scant comfort. Maybe it’s getting older and having a closer relationship to my own mortality, maybe it’s looking in my terrier’s eyes and realizing that she is sentient, and that she, but for a slight accident of birth, could have been your panicked, scared, tortured pork chop.
I have a few points.
First: It should come as not surprise that the meat counter smells of death. It is death. The problem is meat eaters for whom it does not have any meaning of death. My point is that understanding, as a meat eater, the meat-is-death connection is valuable and important. Recognizing the sacrifice (of both human and animal) can encourage more care and less waste.
Second: Torture is a tricky word to use when talking about the meat we eat, especially when talking about all meat.The amount to which an animal knows it is going to die when it goes to the slaughterhouse can be debated, but I caution against the over anthropomorphizing of livestock.
Third: I, too, look at my dog and think about the similarities — I’m fascinated by how pigs can seem so dog-like when given the chance to run around and play. It doesn’t stop me from eating meat, but it does make me care about who is raising my meat.
Fourth: There is something macho about publicizing your willingness to watch of animals die. I’m no Anthony Bourdain apologist, but if a reader learns a little more about the violence involved, I think it has a value.