I did a home safety assessment for a patient at work today. I went with her & her husband to their rural home that includes a small herd (i.e. <25) of cows raised for meat. Having never been in this particular situation before, I was keenly interested to learn everything I could about the fate of those animals. I watched the cows innocently & peacefully grazing on grass as my patient was more than happy to answer all my questions.
By anyone’s definition, this is about as “humane” as an animal farm can get. The bulls are not castrated, so the breeding is natural. The cows have a lovely green pasture with a beautiful view of trees & mountains in a location w/ a mild climate. A mobile unit comes to the farm to slaughter the animals on site. The animals are killed when not much more than ~18 months (“so that the meat doesn’t get too tough”…and older animals are only “good” for hamburger.) The animal’s body is hauled off to a butcher shop in a nearby city for about a week of aging (she called it “hanging”) & then processing into the various meat cuts.
This will be the last herd that my patient & her husband will have because they are both elderly & it’s getting to be too much work for them. She also admitted that for health reasons everyone in her family is eating less beef so it is clearly not a necessary food source. She clearly has a certain fondness for her animals & yet her speaking tone was matter of fact and clinical.
I found the whole experience quite unsettling. Since going vegan, I have never needed confirmation, but yet being there confirmed in my mind that I am on the right track. If this little family farm is AS good as it gets, I still don’t want any part of it. I looked at the eyes of those animals. I put myself in their situation. I can only come to the conclusion that those animals don’t deserve to be suddenly killed when it is so unnecessary to kill them. It is unnecessary to eat them. And they really are babies…18 months. Cows can live to be 20 years or more if given the chance.
More Q’s I have: What happens when the mobile slaughter unit drives up? What is the process then? I didn’t have time to find out all the answers to every question that I later thought of. What happens when one cow is harmed..killed? When do the other cows know that they, too, will be harmed? I still want to know more. Nevertheless, I reflect on this interaction without tears, without anger. I am disturbed by it because it is so unfair. So unjust. But I am glad that no more animals on this particular farm will be bred just to be killed. I hope that more people will go vegan.
(Written April 5, 2012)