Friday, 28 October 2011

Eating your own

James McWilliams believes that the locavore's mistake is to advocate home slaughter. (No gory pics in this one) Needless to say I have some sympathy with that idea. I'm no fan of people killing chickens in their back yard. Where I part company with McWilliams is on how to approach this. He worries about the psychological effects in a neighbourhood where such things are normal, and aregues that killing should be kept at a 'graceful distance' in an automated slaughterhouse. Uh, no. I can tell you that having a chicken 'factory' in the neighbourhood isn't a brilliant thing either.

What's my take on this? I'm no fan of killing any animal anywhere. You may have guessed that. But remember what I said about nose-to-tail eating? It involved a lot of rather big ifs, and this is the same. IF people are going to eat meat, then maybe they should get up close and personal with where it comes from. IF people want to take the animal welfare line then maybe they should own the process from start to finish. IF people choose locavore over vegan when they want to eat in an eco-friendly way, maybe it's best that they don't get to sugar-coat the process and pretend that slaughter is anything other than bloody and nasty. And the botched kills? Believe me, they happen in the industrial killing process too. And many of the people responsible find it funny. So yes, IF chickens are going to die for people to eat them, bringing it closer to home could be a good thing.

But as I said before, those are big IFs. My view is that if people experience the slightest unease at the prospect of killing an animal, maybe they should think twice about doing it. And if you can't wield the knife yourself or watch your friend or family member do it, then you should have a big old think about whether you should be eating animals at all.

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