I'm noticing that a goodly number of new "back to the farm" types are saying that they are vegetarians.
I got to wondering about the unusually high percentage of non-meat eaters among this group. I happen to correspond with several, so I asked some questions. While two cited "healthier life choice", most said that they couldn't eat an animal now that they've gotten to know them.
So I find that it's a good question to ask a wannabe.......could you eat meat from an animal you raised? It's really a critical consideration, especially since most people go into "grow your own" ventures with the intent of actually living off what they raise.
Slaughtering an animal is an unpleasant experience for most farmers that I've talked to. It's a necessary job. But for a novice farmer, it can be horrifying or repulsive. I'm seeing that many newcomers cannot bring themselves to kill an animal, even if done humanely. My suggestion........hire someone else to do the slaughtering (and perhaps even the butchering) for you. Several livestock people in my own area don't do their own slaughtering and butchering. Either the animal is dropped off with a friend/neighbor who does the job in exchange for some of the meat, or taken to the local slaughterhouse. Either way, the meat comes back not looking like the creature it came from. An easy denial system to get around the dilemma.
One of my friends cannot do the slaughtering but wants to butcher his own. So he has his neighbor stun and bleed the animal, skin and gut it. Then he takes over. This system works for him. The neighbor gets some free meat.
I've talked with other people in my area about this sticky issue. Can you eat something you've seen as a live animal? Surprisingly, most could not. Buying packaged meat is the grand solution. Not only haven't you seen the animal or butchered it, in your mind you can even deny it came from an animal in the first place. It's beef , not a cow. It's pork, not a pig. That another sort of denial that goes on too.
I had several people say the supermarket meat is safer, more sanitary that home raised/home butchered. They also believe it is more nutritious because professional farmers (the experts, I was told) would know to feed the animals vitamins and better feed. Hum, I don't necessarily agree with this reasoning. But it does bring up done good points. Home butchering poorly done could result in contaminated meat. And animals poorly fed could be less nutritious. But I would think that most people would take care to do things well knowing that they themselves would be eating the meat.
Many people said that they could no more eat an animal that they have seen face to face than they could eat their pet cat or dog. I offered a solution to these people -- swap their animal with their neighbor, but send the neighbor's animal directly to a slaughterhouse. That way you would not have seen it. Funny thing, most people still said no. I guess it's supermarket meat in their house. Just the thought of it having been a warm breathing animal in their vicinity was too much.
Personally I have no problem with slaughtering and butchering my own. In fact, I prefer it to supporting the supermarket meat industry. My own animals live a good life compared to meat market livestock. I was taught how to humanely dispatch an animal and how to butcher them. I strongly prefer home slaughter as compared to shipping the animal somewhere else for the task.
But not everyone in my household agrees. Hubby is a diehard supermarket meat person. That plastic wrapped stuff that lies on a styrofoam tray has nothing to do with some animal with eyes and legs. He is one who cannot eat an animal that he knows. That being said, we have an understanding in our house ....... a subject never to be discussed is where the meat we are eating came from. Don't ask, don't say, don't think about it. Oh well, the system works for us. I just don't tell him what kind of meat is in the soup. ;)