Social Question

Mat74UK's avatar

Should people that eat meat be prepared to kill for the table?

Asked by Mat74UK (4646 points ) February 16th, 2011

As a carnivore shouldn’t you be prepared to at least once in your life take another animals life and consume it’s flesh?
I do on a regular basis and I would like to find out how detached you are from your food sources.
Is it against your ethics?
Could you do it?
Would it be easier if it were a fish as opposed to a mammal or bird?
Veggies and Vegans this doesn’t concern you!

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61 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I could do that if I had to.
I have killed and eaten fish but not Ronald McDonald. ;)

Mikewlf337's avatar

I already do that. It is a good feeling that I am able to obtain food without depending on the grocery store and society. It is easy for me to hunt and kill any animal I am willing to eat for food. It is the food chain and we are part of it.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Absolutely. It’s bad faith to ignore the ethical arguments against eating meat unless you are prepared to kill.

syz's avatar

Working in the animal field as I do, I am definitely not detached from food animals. And seeing the industrial complex that is our food production system is largely the reason that I stopped eating meat (everyone really should investigate how their food is handled – it’s disgusting).

I would probably be more prone to eating meat if I raised and/or killed it myself. In that situation, I would be able to ascertain the animal’s quality of life, that it was killed as humanely as possible, and that the meat was handled in a sanitary manner.

Cruiser's avatar

I have never killed a land animal to eat but am locked, stocked and ready to go hunting anytime Jewel runs out of roast beef and chicken. Fishing….thousands of fillets under my belt.

Seelix's avatar

I’ve caught, cooked and eaten fish, but nothing else. I think that if I were required to kill my own beef, pork or chicken, I’d probably eat a lot less of it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Nah. Specialization is what makes society great. Most people haven’t the slightest idea how to make plastic but they use it every day. Most people eat food they have not grown or harvested themselves. What percentage of total annual food eaten a typical vegetarian was home grown? Unless you live in poor farming communities in India or Ethiopia it is very low. Sure, some people have big gardens but when you add up the total calories consumed you will find they hunted and gathered at the local grocery store – and have no idea how those little corn kernels got inside the cans.

We are using the internet right now not because we were prepared to wire our own PCs or make our own communication protocols. We delegated those jobs to experts.

You can still enjoy a good cheeseburger without working at diary farm and on the kill floor at a beef packing pant.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Although I have caught, killed, cleaned, cooked and eaten fish, I don’t think omnivores need to justify their (our) food choices. I think being aware of your food sources is prudent for a number of reasons (health being primary for me), but not something to be defended to anyone.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Food prices keep going up the way they are, there will be a lot more people learning to hunt. I have no problem with hunting for food. Trophy hunting is wrong though.

mattbrowne's avatar

Every human being will attempt to do this at some point, including vegetarians and vegans in a dire survival situation, like a plane crash on an isolated remote island, if there are not enough alternatives. The problems is that most of us will have to relearn the necessary skills, like how to kill without a gun, for example using a large knife or some self-made weapon.

syz's avatar

@worriedguy Ah, but plastics and PCs have no potential moral dilemmas associated with them (ok, I suppose you could argue resource management and environmental degradation, but I would argue that those are a different level of discourse).

So when you eat a cheeseburger, you have no interest in the fact that the government has regulated restaurants to cook the meat at a higher temperature to kill off the bacteria as a result of handling techniques that infuse your meat with shit? That your chicken and beef contain high levels of antibiotics and growth hormones because the animals are being raised in artificial (and filthy) environments on unnatural (but cheap) diets? You truly don’t care that the bacon you eat may have come from a pig that was inaccurately slaughtered and so was dumped in boiling water alive and screaming?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an animals rights extremist. I’m a pragmatist. But I also don’t believe that ignorance is bliss, and I do believe that as the species that benefits most from this arrangement, we lesson our own worth by treating other living beings with outright callousness and indifferent cruelty.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Good thing this is in social, so I can laugh as I consider “infuse your meat with shit”. Syz, I’ve been in a lot of slaughter houses so I know what you mean. This question is giving me a lot to think about because I’ve done a lot of killing when I was younger.

syz's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes, the Purdue chicken plant was an eye opener. I had been in small, family farm facilities before, but that was my first exposure to commercial abattoir. It wasn’t long after that I largely stopped eating meat.

markferg's avatar

As a user of flush toilets, shouldn’t you at least once in your life get down into the sewer and push shit about? No thanks, that’s what I pay my tax for. Same with meat. I pay to get it prepared and delivered to the supermarket. Eating meat is not a weird killing cult, it’s a food choice.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@syz Understood. Poultry plants are the worst.

syz's avatar

Wow. So animals have now been given equal status as plastics, computers, and shit. That’s depressing.

tinyfaery's avatar

@syz And it explains so much about our societies attitude about animal cruelty.

coffeenut's avatar

If I had to I could….But I don’t have to so I don’t do it much.

YoBob's avatar

Yes, they should.

I find it unfortunate that people have become so disconnected from the source of their food. Just because it is served to you on a nice little foam tray wrapped in plastic does not make its consumption any more moral.

As for my family, the majority of our red meat supply comes from wild harvested venison that is:

1) Totally free range and enjoy a perfectly natural existence until the moment of their harvest.
2) Artificial hormone and anti-biotic free
3) Environmentally sustainable.
4) Promote preservation and continued stewardship of a couple of hundred acres of wild green space for numerous other species to inhabit.

blueiiznh's avatar

The majority of people today are a bit removed from the farm or the little house on the prairie way of life.
I suspect that survival mode would come out if needed however, even for a vegetarian.

ucme's avatar

Well the wife murders our roast dinner every Sunday, so she’s got a head start right there.
Me, yeah i’d gut a pig if it came to that….squeal mother fucker squeal!

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’ve killed “dinner” more than enough times, thank you very much! I intend to have my dinner served to me, ready to consume, for the remainder of my life. : )

Coloma's avatar

I could, but I don’t want to.

I also eat little meat in general.

I think this is an irrevalent question, like saying anyone that drives a car ought to be able to switch out an engine. Silly, really.

wilma's avatar

Perhaps, but I’m glad I don’t have to kill my own meat.
I have and I would again if I was hungry enough, or to feed my family, but I’m grateful that I’m not the one who regularly has to do the job.
Most of the red meat that I eat is venison killed by someone that I know. Like @YoBob it is harvested in my own local area.
If I had to kill all of the meat I eat, then I’m sure that I would eat les of it.

YoBob's avatar

Several bring up the excellent point that one of the benefits of society is that we do not have to personally attend to all of our needs. However, one potential side effect of this is that individuals rapidly loose the ability to tend to those needs.

Does one need to know how to build an engine in order to drive a car? Of course not. However, it’s a pretty darned good idea to know how to check your oil or change a fan belt.

By the same token, IMHO everyone should know the basics of how to raise a vegetable garden and if they are omnivorous should at minimum not try to convince themselves that it is somehow more morally acceptable to consume flesh as long as somebody else does the dirty work.

thorninmud's avatar

At a minimum, people have a moral obligation to actually look at the consequences of their choices. To enjoy the end product of a process while maintaining a cognitive distance from the process itself is irresponsible. I’d say any meat eater who wouldn’t be willing to personally observe the whole process that brings the meat to their table is being morally evasive. There has to be a recognition of exactly what the individual’s purchasing decisions are supporting. I wouldn’t go so far as to make them slice the throat, but they should at least be willing to watch it happen and acknowledge that their eating habits are the reason for this.

Why do meat processors so rigorously hide the process from the public view? What does that say when an industry is so concerned that if its consumers see how things happen, it would be bad for business? What would happen if meat processors were required to install webcams on the killing floor, or in the hen batteries or the veal pens?

It’s not just a meat industry problem, of course. Consumers in the west have a moral obligation to pay attention to how all their lifestyle choices play out globally. We’ve become alarmingly adroit at camouflaging the unseemly fallout of our choices.

Baddreamer27's avatar

I’ve been hunting with my mother since I was 12. We go during bow season in Ohio. I havent gone since I have been in the Navy, but last time I was home I helped her track her catch and bring it home. We gut and clean our own, and take the meat to someone else to be cut up. My mom’s husband does taxidermy, so for us it is not unusual to walk into the kitchen and see a deer head or some other type of animal on ice in a cooler. My fiance and his family have thier own deer processing business, so its no biggie to him either…My favorites? Deer Jerky, Squirrel, Rabbit, Wild turkey and other fowel game. Also, We have raised pigs, goats, chickens and cows that we have killed and had butchered. I dont like killing the chickens however, it can get a little “too hands on”. We usually just keep a few hens for the eggs.

DominicX's avatar

I have absolutely nothing against hunting. My boyfriend’s been hunting before; maybe I’ll accompany him some day. As it is, I’ve never even handled a gun before, so I am not prepared…

Also, I’m not sure if I’d call myself a “carnivore”; it’s my understanding that that terms seems to refer to specific animals that exclusively eat meat.

downtide's avatar

I would have the stomach for it and it’s certainly not against my ethics, although I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it unless I’d been taught how to kill humanely and gut the carcass safely. Although in practise, I was a vegetarian for many years and I don’t consider myself to be a dedicated carnivore. I like meat, sometimes, but I still prefer the veggies.

YARNLADY's avatar

Been there, done that. However, it’s nothing like the mass slaughter houses our meat really comes from. That is an experience all meat eaters should have. I love meat.

@mattbrowne I think the situation you describe would lead people to become vegetarian rather than the other way around. Meat eaters would have a hard time recognizing that they can actually live on plants if necessary.

Leanne1986's avatar

I wouldn’t want to do that and if I had to kill something myself then I would probably think twice about eating it I don’t each much meat anyway due to worrying about where it’s come from, how it lived before it died etc and I certainly don’t think that I, or anyone else who doesn’t want to kill should have to in this day and age. That may be hypocritical of me but there are people that are paid to put, what little meat I consume, on my table and I am happy for it to stay this way. My responsibility is to make sure I get my meat from a humane, reliable source and if I can’t do that then I don’t make the purchase.

12Oaks's avatar

Of course not. I also buy gasoline but have no desire to work, at any stage, of its production or distribution. Same for television, as I like to watch TV, but have no desire to star in, act in, direct, or otherwise work on some Hollywood set in any capacity.

tinyfaery's avatar

Now animals are the same as TV’s, cars and gasoline. Nice~

Mikewlf337's avatar

@psychocandy Don’t take what 12Oaks said out of context. Food is a product. Just like everything else that is purchased.

mrrich724's avatar

If I had the knowledge how to utilize the meat to its fullest, yea, I’d do it no problem. I do believe in the circle of life, and I don’t feel guilty about eating meat at all.

I might eat less of it though, just due to the lack of convenience.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Mikewlf337 Uh, no. Animals are sentient beings capable of feeling pain. Meat isn’t just any other purchased product.

12Oaks's avatar

For the record, I do hunt and fish and have a vegatable garden. Gotta eat, nothing you could do about that.

YoBob's avatar

@psychocandy Of course animals are sentient beings capable of feeling pain. However, that doesn’t alter the food chain nor the fact that nature made some herbivores, some carnivores, and some omnivores.

Do you believe that carnivores and omnivores are somehow less noble or have less of a right to consume their natural diet than herbivores?

Mikewlf337's avatar

@psychocandy uh, yes it is. Meat is just any other purchased product. The world isn’t all fluffy bunnies, cinnamon buns, lolly pops, and little girls smiling. Organisms feed off other organisms. That is the food chain.

Baddreamer27's avatar

@psychocandy Do you think that early man cared at all how the meal was killed? I don’t agree with abusing an animal it’s entire life to simply knock it off, cut it up and eat it, but really…Whats your beef with beef?

DancingMind's avatar

@YoBob, @Mikewlf337

Food chain? How is any of what we do a part of the food chain?

The food chain a natural process of survival of the fittest: every creature has the chance to fight for their life, and the deaths are usually quick and swift blows to key points, like the neck.

What we do is shove helpless animals through a factory in an endless and often cruel “chain”—it’s a chain of some sort…—of mass slaughter. That’s after having them locked up in (often very) inhumane conditions. We’ve completely side-stepped the food chain.

You’re right, we have turned it into nothing more than another production line. We’ve turned lives into product. But that has nothing to do with the food chain, and everything to do with our desire for a quick easy buck over compassion. How can we justify that except in the most cold, heartless way? Except in separating it from our sight so we don’t have to think about it?

(And we don’t consume our “natural” diet in any stretch of the word anymore.)

@Baddreamer27, I think her “beef” is that she doesn’t “agree with abusing an animal it’s entire life to simply knock it off, cut it up and eat it”, either

Mikewlf337's avatar

@DancingMind. Slaughterhouses are humane. They are quickly killed, I have seen the process many times and the killing is very quick. I have seen it with my own eyes. My cousin raises beef and they do not have it bad at all on the farm. They are taken to the slaughterhouse where they are humanely slaughtered.

incendiary_dan's avatar

I think we should at least be realistic and take responsibility for what dies to feed us. Maybe not necessarily kill it ourselves (I hunt) but at least take part in some sort of respectful meat-eating traditions, like helping hunters or people who raise animals.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Lots of talk here about factory farming, but I’ve noticed through various other threads that a great many Jellies are conscious of what it takes to be rational and moral consumers and that they (like me) prefer their animal protein to come from more humane sources.

Baddreamer27's avatar

I dont think that the issue should lie with just the person eating the meat. This world is over-populated, 7-billion + people over populated…And not only that, but too much is being done to sustain life. I mean, if it weren’t so populated then the need to mass produce wouldn’t be an issue. Even with mass production there are still people starving….mass production is needed for our world to survive today. I dont think the US would even be able to survive without mass production…

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Baddreamer27 But mass production doesn’t actually create more food per acre. Polycropping and sustainable pastoralism actually create more food per acre, and healthier food, too.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@Baddreamer27 Some of us would survive.

Coloma's avatar

Whew!

What an ordeal, killed a handful of avacados tongiht.
Tthe baby ones are especially hard to skin.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t want to kill my meat. Neither do I want to drill the oil which makes the petrol I use in my scooter. Nor do I have the time to grow all of the vegetables I eat.

I buy free range critters who live happily and die quickly and humanely. I once spent time with a cattle farmer. One day we came upon a sick cow, she was old had gone down and couldn’t get up. The farmer took his gun, knelt beside her, patted her head and told her she was the best cow she could possibly have been and he respected her for that. Then with tears in his eyes he shot her.

As long as the animals I eat live well and die with dignity then I have no problems. That is not my job and the people who do butcher probably would not want my job so we are even.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Like @YARNLADY said: been there, done that. And I know how to do it humanely. One is all, all is one.

Mat74UK's avatar

Wow a big thank you for all you answers!
Those that compared their meat to other products (and there are a few) kind of missed the point of the question. I never asked, We all shit, should we at least once in our lives wipes our arse with a leaf? Or All users of petroleum products should you at least once in your life refine crude oil? Where’s the ethical could you kill answered there?
What I wanted to know I think I found out, some of you can and do, some of you are that far detached from nature that you couldn’t.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Mat74UK – you seem to think it is a point of honor or ethics or somehow superior to kill the food you eat. I don’t agree or really understand how you reach that position. I feel that if the animal has a good life and dies humanely there is no moral or ethical dilemma involved. It has been that way since humans evolved. It’s called the food chain.

Mat74UK's avatar

@rooeytoo – Good point but as you say it has been that way since humans evolved, so what I was after was finding out if someone could kill to eat just once in their life or are they that far removed from the food chain that they couldn’t.

mattbrowne's avatar

@YARNLADY – It depends on the circumstances and the vegetation. Not all remote island offer lush vegetation. People can’t eat grass, but some animals can.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Mat74UK – I think anyone would do most anything if they were truly starving. Remember the book “Alive.” That pretty much answers your question.

YoBob's avatar

@DancingMind

How is anything we do to provide our sustenance not part of the food chain?

Each creature in this great big beautiful world of ours has it’s own set of tools that nature gave it to survive/thrive. In the case of we frail (relatively) hairless primates, our tool is our big brain. Yes, we raise livestock on an industrial scale for animal based products just as we farm on an industrial scale to provide for our plant based needs. Using the tools nature gave us to provide for those needs does not alter our position at the apex of the chain. It simply means that we have developed a bit more efficient strategy than using claws and teeth to secure our evening repast.

DancingMind's avatar

@Mikewlf337: Okay, you’re right, all slaughterhouses aren’t horrible. Our “livestock” can have it pretty well off. But I have heard some pretty ugly things, too… so maybe some places aren’t as humane as your cousins’? I dunno for sure though..

@YoBob: Fine, too, I guess in a way we’re still sort of part of the food chain. I’m just hesitant on that kind of argument. It’s like… if we can do things simply because we’re able to, then we can’t we do anything, as long as we’re “able” to? That scares me a bit… but maybe it’s just me.

incendiary_dan's avatar

See my link above. Industrialization isn’t more efficient or productive.

anartist's avatar

I do not see the need. I have hooked my share of fish.
I suspect I would not be much of a hunter, my vision is not good enough.
Could I press the switch at a cattle slaughterhouse for the next animal? Yes if the slaughterhouse was designed by Temple Grandin. Now she is someone who has truly come to terms with this issue. She cares more for animals than for people [she’s autistic] yet has made her career of designing slaughterhouses that are less upsetting to the cattle that move through.

Coloma's avatar

One can love and care for animals in general and still eat meat once in awhile.
Saying otherwise is simply not true.
I have rescue geese and rescue cats and provide a wildlife haven on my property, but I eat Turkey at Thanksgiving, so shoot me.
It’s like saying that to truly care for poverty stricken humans one should give up all their worldly possessions and go live in a leper colony in Calcutta.

Besides, as has been mentioned, the vast majority of people are not in a living situation that would lend itself to home butchering or raising ones own meat or poultry.
Is the average apartment/condo dweller or small urban home owner supposed to rent a truck and horse trailer, drive to the country to buy a steer, butcher it on the sidewalk, buy 3 freezers to store 400 lbs. of meat, then chainsaw up the carcass and leave it bagged on the sidewalk? Or…behead live chickens in ones bathtub for dinner?

Raising and “harvesting” ones own meat these days is simply not realistic for the vast majority.

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