Daily Mail (UK)
Here’s another account of a televised brush with one’s feelings toward animals, including a step-by-step description of a lamb’s slaughter process (fair warning: I do include that description in my excerpt below). There are moments of near-revelation, which could have led to adopting a diet free of animal flesh, much less their eggs and milk, but the author (like others before) seems eager to put the experience in the past and continue eating animals once the memories fade…
It really does make me wonder why some people respond as I and others did when having similar connections to where our food really comes from, i.e., going vegan, and why others do their best to shake off the experience, as if some sort of bad dream. Plenty of opinions are expressed in the article, and they are quite common, but Tom Rawstorne actually takes the time to examine them, so I’ll refrain from dissecting them here. Suffice it to say that the arguments presented for eating animals simply cannot compare to the violence of taking another life, and come off as rather shallow and self-serving.
You would think the sheer process of analyzing these feelings and writing about it for the Daily Mail would fix the experience in one’s mind so much as to make it unforgettable, but denial is a pretty common reaction, too. I suppose I can hope that a seed has been planted, and that the author will never be able to let this go, perhaps one day actually choosing to abstain from eating other beings, as I have also seen happen.
Until he had the misfortune of meeting me, there’s no doubt Faw-Faw had a good life. Born last April, he has been running free outdoors ever since, and has eaten nothing more than his mother’s milk, grass and a handful of winter feed made from wheat and barley.
The trouble is I’m also starting to form some sort of bond with Faw-Faw. On Wednesday night I visit him at the abattoir in Sturminster Newton, where his life is going to end. He’s in a barn divided into stalls that are filled with 20-odd cattle and the same number of sheep. There’s straw on the floor, hay to eat and water to drink.
The following morning at 7.30am he’s herded the 50 yards from death row to the abattoir. It is a clinical place, where the animals are hooked up and slaughtered efficiently.
The slaughterman places a giant pair of tongs about his head, and a massive jolt of electricity renders him instantly unconscious.
He’s then hooked onto an overhead conveyor belt by his rear legs, and a single sweep of a knife severs the carotid artery in the throat. This process takes about ten seconds.
Suspended upside down, the lamb’s still-beating heart pumps a flood of blood on to the floor for about one minute. Faw-Faw is no more.
I’m doing fine so far but it’s the transition from sheep to meat that gets me. As he passes down the line his feet and head are cut off, the pelt peeled back and the guts tumbled out.
The carcass is steaming and I feel nauseous, a feeling that reaches cheek-bulging proportions when I place a hand on the pink, slightly sticky, ribcage. It’s hot and the flesh is soft, gelatinous. And yet no longer alive.
A few yards on and the bureaucracy kicks on. The carcass is weighed, visually checked for signs of disease, stamped by the inspectors and then a joint of meat cut out and handed to me. I hold it in my bare hands and feel that heat again, the muscles ticking, the flesh twitching, and enough’s enough. I’m out of there.
An hour later, I’m back at Richard’s farmhouse near Warminster, and have pulled myself together enough to place that same piece of meat in the oven, a sprinkling of dried rosemary and a bit of garlic on top.
Some 40 minutes on and out it comes. It looks and smells delicious. I try to eat a piece but twice have to spit it out. Something about it, its animal smell I think, reminds me too much of that slaughterhouse.
The third mouthful I manage to swallow – I persevere, because in a way I feel I owe it to Faw-Faw. What a waste otherwise.
It’s a good bit of eating, as Brian promised, and doubtless would have been better still had it been hung for a week or so, as is normal practice. But I can’t eat any more now anyway.
Richard says he’ll send me some other cuts, and I thank him, fairly confident that by then the memories, my senses, will have dulled enough for me to really enjoy it.
In the meantime, I reflect on the experience and am surprised how much it has affected me.
On the whole (as of this writing), the comments have not been favorable toward this “sentimental” view of animals, so you may want to chime in with your thoughts. You can also email the editor, but don’t forget to include your full name and contact information to be considered for publication.