Learning to Kill

The New York Times posted an article today about trendy butchery classes.  Now you can pay for someone to show you how to slaughter and dress various kinds of animals.  The article does a good job of making a point I often find myself making when talking to friends about vegetarianism.  I agree that it is better to eat meat from animals that have been treated well during their lives and killed humanely rather than industrially raised and killed meat.  However–and this is the point–it is even better to not eat animals at all (or to eat less meat than you currently do).

Here is the closing paragraph of the New York Times article:

And some participants have found that the slaughter is, well, less than life affirming. Jake Lahne, a graduate student in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois, recently enrolled in a meat-production course at school to achieve “a real understanding of where meat comes from,” he wrote on a blog, the Ethicurean.

He got it. “Animals do not want to die,” he wrote. “They can feel pain and fear, and, just like us, will struggle to breathe for even one single more second. If you’re about to run 250 volts through a pig, do not look it in the eyes. It is not going to absolve you.”

“I truly believe that humane slaughter is important and possible,” he added, “but, as I have been learning, here’s the truth about any slaughter: it is both morally difficult and really gross.”

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2 Responses to “Learning to Kill”

  1. tinsmithink Says:

    The sheep graze happily on the grass every day until the Eid and then on that very day they start walking backwards. It’s the most horrifying thing to see. Luckily I always had beef while everyone enjoyed mutton 🙂 (ok, sorry)

    But I think the main focus is always on the food industry and on eating behavior. I end up comforting myself with the nature argument “I need food, therefore I eat”. So what about animals killed, driven to insanity, impregnated with strange DNA for research purposes?

  2. veryshuai Says:

    Simply put, research that causes unnecessary harm to animals is bad too! Medical research makes the the issue fuzzy, of course. The lives of humans are more important than the lives of animals, and the development of life saving drugs often involves animal experiments. On the other hand, it is also wrong to cause animals terrible suffering and pain.

    Maybe the reason that we focus on food is that the ethics involved are very simple since there are plentiful and easily accessible alternatives to meat. Medical research is more complicated.

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