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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

World Farm Animals Day: Some Thoughts

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

World Farm Animals Day: Some Thoughts

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dont eat the animals
Last Friday was World Farm Animals Day, so I'm a bit late but wanted to post about it and some of my more recent mental meanderings on the subject of using animals for food.

First of all, I have 16 years of cred as a vegetarian. Furthermore, I was once a card-carrying member of the radical animal rights movement. (Indeed, I am ashamed to admit that I was a PETA member for one year when I was 12 years old. After which they slaughtered dozens of innocent trees to send me the same stupid "survey"-cum-plea-for-donations every few months for the next 10 years.) No, I never broke into any labs or "liberated" any animals or even wrote any threatening letters, but I certainly understood the sentiment behind those acts, even if my belief in pacifism also forbade me from engaging in them. These days, I have mitigated my views a bit. I remain a vegetarian, but an uneasy one. I'm not sure that what I'm doing is really doing a whole lot more good than if I followed Bobby's path of flexitarianism with an eye to sustainability. It is just the emotionally easier choice for me.

So I don't come to my feelings about groups like PETA and events like World Farm Animals Day with any notion of preserving my own comfort as a meat-eater; indeed, it would be much more comfortable if I could believe that what they say is true. The problem is that I don't. Not anymore.

I do share one fundamental belief that is supposedly the goal of WFAD: opposition to factory farming. Aside from its blatant cruelty, factory farming is wrecking our environment and bolstering a massive agribusiness that is perpetuating nothing short of criminal acts against people, animals, and the planet. If WFAD drew the line there, you'd see a very different post from me about it. As it is, though, the line about "memorializing the more than 58 billion cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, and other land animals who needlessly suffer and die every year in the world's factory farms and slaughterhouses" has a more insidious agenda. Because who isn't against factory farms? Most people are, to an extent at least. That's why "supermarket pastoral"--the butter tubs with the happy cows grazing in front of a red barn, egg cartons with a hen snuggled atop a nest--sells so well.

But then you click on the About WFAD link, and here is what it says:

World Farm Animals Day is dedicated to exposing, mourning, and memorializing the needless suffering and death of cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, and other innocent, sentient animals raised and slaughtered for food.


Whoa. We're beyond factory farming now, folks. A bit further down the page, we hear about their yearly agenda, "[i]n addition to promoting a vegan lifestyle ..." Now we're waaaay beyond simple and reasonable opposition to factory farming.

So there you have it. WFAD isn't about factory farming. It is about raising animals for food. All kinds of food, including dairy, eggs, and yes, even honey. The two are very different issues with vastly different implications.

First of all, there is a fallacy in the "vegamentalist" movement that automatically equates raising animals for food with factory farming. This couldn't be further from the truth. Factory farming is a relatively new manifestation driven by an abundance of cheap corn. People have been eating animals and animal products for millennia without factory farming. Or, I have five pullets in my backyard who will soon provide all of the eggs Bobby and I can eat, and then some. That falls under the umbrella of "raising animals for food." It most certainly does not fall under the umbrella of factory farming. Our chickens probably receive better care than many children in this country.

An opposition to factory farming is an opposition to a cruel, wasteful, and destructive system that is not good for anything but lining the pockets of Big Agriculture and producing lots of cheap food. (It's not even remotely profitable for the majority of farmers who practice it; I point no fingers at them.) An opposition to raising animals for food is a whole different ball of wax, and while I hesitate to go into monster-shouting mode and say that it could lead to as much environmental destruction as factory farming, it definitely could have deleterious consequences for the environment, no matter what the vegamentalists bleat about how going vegan will save the world.

I've written about the sustainability issues that vegetarianism/veganism present before. My belief is that the notion that going vegan will save the planet (and feed the hungry and allow you to live longer and have better sex and ...) derives from a fundamental disconnect with how the world--and by that, I mean Nature-with-a-capital-N--works. (Incidentally and ironically, Big Agriculture arises from the same disconnect.)

Vegamentalists and radical animal rights activists/liberationists believe that it is wrong for human beings to have any sort of relationship with animals beyond admiration. To do so constitutes "exploitation" and "slavery"--loaded, hurtful words that we generally only apply to the worst abuses of humans by humans. For a human to kill an animal is "murder." If you keep bees for honey or chickens for eggs--mind, things that the produce whether or not humans consume them--then you're exploiting them. If you spread manure on your garden from your pet goat, that is likewise exploitation. Consider this quote from A Call to Vegetarians on Care2Causes:

What makes veganism even more empowering is that it goes far beyond diet, and eliminates one’s contribution to the entire animal use paradigm.


In biology class, when we studied mutually beneficial relationships between two nonhuman organisms, we called it symbiosis. It's everywhere. Everything is connected. 90% of trees rely on mycorrhizal fungi in their root systems to help them take in water and nutrients. Ants literally farm aphids, protecting them in exchange for the sugar-rich honeydew that aphids produce. Nothing occurs alone or independent from the organisms around it. Including us.

Now, when we talk about human relationships with other organisms, we speak of domestication, a word with ugly connotations. Sometimes, those connotations are justified; we have certainly, in some instances, taken much more than we've given back. Factory farming is a glaring example of that. But, fundamentally, domestication is not an evil thing, and it certainly is not without benefits for the animal partners in it. In exchange for lives that are usually short, brutal, and uncertain, animals have the most essential tasks performed for them by humans. We assure them regular meals, comfort and care, and protect them from predators. Anyone who's ever slogged through the snow or rain to take care of an animal, sitting fat and happy in its cozy shelter, might question who really ends up with the short end of the domestication stick. In exchange for this, animals provide us with food, fiber, manure, companionship, labor, and other uses. Backyard chickens, for example, can live as long as ten years. In the wild, they likely would not have such long lives, or such pleasant ones. It shows our connectedness to the world around us to honor that relationship with nonhuman species.

If you've ever talked to an animal rights activist or vegamentalist, you've probably heard the term "speciesism": the belief that humans are superior to other animals. That we use animals for food (among other things) supposedly illustrates our "speciesism" because using animals for food is predicated by our belief that animals are there for us to use.

Well, here is where I see speciesism. I see speciesism in assuming that humans are apart from other animals. That we don't need each other. That we didn't evolve with a codependency on each other for survival. That humans can effectively remove themselves from the processes that drive all other life on Earth. It need not apply to us because we're separate, because we're above and beyond that. Every other organism on Earth forms varying relationships with others, ranging from mutualism to parasitism to predation. Not us, though; we are apart from that primitive, barbaric "animal instinct."

In her book The Vegetarian Myth, former vegan Lierre Keith speaks of the motives behind veganism:

I know the reasons that compelled me to embrace an extreme diet and they are honorable, ennobling even. Reasons like justice, compassion, a desperate and all-encompassing longing to set the world right. To save the planet--the last trees bearing witness to ages, the scraps of wilderness still nurturing fading species, silent in their fur and features. To protect the vulnerable, the voiceless. To feed the hungry. At the very least to refrain from participating in the horror of factory farming. These political passions are born of a hunger so deep that it touches on the spiritual.


I understand this too, for these were also my motives. I often say that I feel like I was born with a place inside of myself clawed red and raw, and each pain to which I bear witness sets its fingers anew in the wound. I once wrote in a poem:

I cannot sleep, for comfort.
I cannot rest with the sheets light upon me,
  the rain muttering,
  the wind-chimes tolling an arpeggio,
  the drowsy body of my mate beside me,
  my skin knowing
Only comfort.
I cannot rest for a hurting world.
. . .
As I lie here, knowing--
  how can I sleep?
  How can I rest?


So believe me when I say that I know and understand what motivates the extremity of veganism and the animal rights movement generally. But I don't believe the removing oneself from the circle of life, to invoke that cliche, is the answer either. That loss of connection that we have allowed to happen is often the reason for the horrors in the first place.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/255702.html
  • Here, here! Well put! Here is something else for these crazy cats to put in their pipe and smoke. Studies performed by researchers at Michigan State University discovered that plants have a rudimentary nerve structure, which allows them to feel pain. According to the peer-reviewed scientific journal Plant Physiology, plants are capable of identifying danger, communicating with other plants to signal that danger, and marshaling defenses against perceived threats. According to botanist Bill Williams of the Helvetica Institute, "plants not only seem to be aware and to feel pain, they can even communicate."

    Here is where it gets good. In response to this research the Swiss government, I kid you not, passed a Plant Bill of Rights that is supposed to protect these living organisms against "moral harm." This is perhaps one of the most absurd things I have ever heard, but it highlights the slippery slope and logical dead end that this sort of asinine thinking can lead to. Are the vegans going to give up their arugula and parsnips? I highly doubt it, except for the real nut jobs that forgo any sort of sustenance. Yet, in light of this new research, to claim that eating animals is morally unjust while neglecting the rights and feelings of your backyard tomato and carrot is just as "speciest" is it not?

    While we can all agree that industrial agriculture is the enemy, lumping all animal agriculture under this umbrella is counter-factual and, I think, a fundamentalist way of intentionally misleading. The Christian Right loves to use these types of tactics, shock and awe so to speak. Factory farming is bad so Joe the Free Range farmer must be bad too right? Wrong.

    The fact of the matter is that I care as much about farm animals as these morons, and that is why I choose to eat only locally produced, free-ranged sustainable meat. I know that my fried chicken lead a good life, out pasturing and eating grass as nature intended, helps build an agricultural-based ecosystem that is beneficial to the environment, and builds a local economy and community between individuals. At the end of the day though, I would dare say that the chicken's ultimate goal is to be eaten because as anyone who has ever taken a basic Biology class can tell you, a chicken is a producer, plain and simple. That is what nature intended for it, and the cow, and the goat, and the bison, and the carrot, and the pepper, and the tomato.

    Perhaps the biggest logical flaw that these folks entertain is their insistence that they can somehow learn how to operate outside of the blueprint as dictated by nature and centuries of evolution. That is a very foolish assumption and one that appears to be the pinnacle to their precious "speciesism."
    • According to botanist Bill Williams of the Helvetica Institute, "plants not only seem to be aware and to feel pain, they can even communicate."

      You're getting into the stuff covered in The Secret Life of Plants (which I will hopefully get to finally read just as soon as I'm done this next round of schoolbooks!). I haven't reviewed the research, personally, but there certainly seems to be a continuum of sensation and perception among living organisms. I agree with you that it becomes a slippery slope very quickly, and this is how you end up with your fruitarians and breatharians.

      Are the vegans going to give up their arugula and parsnips?

      It will be interesting to see how the vegamentalist community would respond, should this sort of research become more widely known and accepted.

      a fundamentalist way of intentionally misleading

      That's exactly it. It is ultimately a fundamentalist view of the world, predicated on a deliberate ignorance of how the world works. It's like "pro-lifers" who are anti-birth control. Supporting farming methods and food production processes that destroy ecosystems results in no fewer animal deaths than the deliberate killing of sustainably raised livestock. However, it lets the fundies have their badge of honor and ability to say that they are "doing something," while sweeping the harm they're truly doing under the rug.

      Perhaps the biggest logical flaw that these folks entertain is their insistence that they can somehow learn how to operate outside of the blueprint as dictated by nature and centuries of evolution.

      Exactly. I personally believe that it's the product of a warped and disconnected view of how humans fit into the world at large. Religion and culture teaches that people are above and apart; it is no surprise when the results are factory farming and veganism.
  • I'm a happy omnivore. :-)

    I'm sorry, but these various radical vegamentalists and animal rights folks just have to learn to accept that nothing lives without eating something else that is alive. It seems that only life can support life. Every one of the plants and animals they adore eat something that was alive, or make use of stuff in the soil that wouldn't be there without the residue of something else that's alive.

    I can hardly afford to get the regular (evil) foods available in the grocery stores so there is no way I can be eating all the nicely raised stuff - esp. the meats. At one time in our marriage we lived where we had farmers for friends and got small farm raised meat and milk at fair prices. But now, we'd be paying (as the saying goes) a cow and a calf for the organic, friendly raised stuff - and we just can't afford it.

    Also, because we are in city limits of our small town, we couldn't raise our own chickens either. We could garden, but I hate the heat of summer and would find it horrible to have to work a garden.

    So . . .

    I guess I'm just going to have to remain part of the evil system. :-(

    I do wish we, and other countries, hadn't started the mega factory farms but I'm not sure how we can go back to the "old ways" now. The factory farms hurt the farmers, the animals, and the crops but I hate to think of what our food would cost otherwise. If the cost of the small farm grown produce and meats is any indication, we'd have a lot more hungry people in the US. :-(
    • I'm sorry, but these various radical vegamentalists and animal rights folks just have to learn to accept that nothing lives without eating something else that is alive. It seems that only life can support life.

      Well said! In the book I quoted, The Vegetarian Myth, the author was once a radical vegan. However, she (correctly) realized that her diet was not environmentally sustainable and decided to start an organic vegetable garden. She ran into the problem, however, of how to feed that garden; she couldn't use conventional petrochemical fertilizers in an organic system, but most of the organic options were animal-based in some way. Even using manure was out; that was exploitation. This was the point where she realized that everything is connected, often through death. It doesn't fit with our culture's Disneyfied version of nature, but that's the way it works. Poop and death. :)

      If the cost of the small farm grown produce and meats is any indication, we'd have a lot more hungry people in the US. :-(

      I totally hear what you're saying about the cost of food. The only reason Bobby and I can afford it is because we've cut in other areas and directed that income toward food. That is a luxury that we have: We don't have kids, and we've been working for the past few years to minimize or eliminate most of our bills. It's not something most people can do, however.

      In the U.S., we pay the least amount of our income for food as any developed nation. However, those numbers are misleading. We pay it--we just pay it in different ways. We pay it through our taxes, which subsidize Big Agriculture. Corn in the U.S., for example, currently sells for less than the cost of production. The U.S. government makes up the rest in the form of subsidies. We pay in terms of our astronomically priced health care system. 1 in 3 low-income children in urban environments has Type II diabetes, for example, because of poor diet. We all pay for that too.

      In order to make it work, we'd have to redirect those subsidies currently going to industrial/processed food into healthy, sustainable food. I don't know if you've seen the documentary Food Inc. (if not, it is an excellent primer for food issues), but there is a telling segment where a low-income family has $10 to spend to feed four people. At the grocery store, the youngest daughter immediately hones in on the apples. She wants one. They're $2 a pound; they can't afford them. They can afford chips and soda, at roughly $1 each. They end up spending their $10 at Burger King because, from the dollar menu, they can buy enough for everyone to have something to eat.

      That's sad, when it's cheaper to buy a hamburger and soda than an apple. Priorities are completely backward. I do believe that many--if not most--people would choose differently, if given the choice. The problem is that they're not given a choice.
  • I always enjoy reading your balanced view on the issue of animal welfare, and I love the Green Knight's manifesto! We of the plant and animal phyla descended from a common ancestor, and thus we have fundamental relatedness. Therefore I have always wondered why killing a plant for food is more acceptable than killing an animal. What matters is stewardship of the creatures and plants we eat. Joe the Free Range Farmer exemplifies the kind of farming I grew up with.

    ETA (besides correcting typos) that Pearl raises an excellent point. As much as I embrace the idea of locavorism (and can afford to engage in it fairly often), it's not accessible to a large swath of the population. Big Agribusiness would appear to have grown to where it is to meet a demand. So can locavorism support our population? Or does something ickily Malthusian need to happen first?

    Speaking of chickens, there's an odd article in today's Salon in which the author describes taking one of their suburban chickens to the vet. It's bothersome (to me) for several reasons, not least of which is the writer's tone of "madcap absurdity" over the bird's illness. Anyhoos, I emailed the link to you.

    Edited at 2010-10-07 07:04 pm (UTC)
    • What matters is stewardship of the creatures and plants we eat.

      I agree. Even in my radical youth, I didn't believe that killing animals was wrong. Even at age 12, I knew what a dangerous slippery slope that was, and also that death is not an evil thing but a natural and necessary thing. (All of these things are now percolating into my fiction, too, i.e. "Reembodied"! :) Even Peter Singer, the father of modern AR philosophy, does not condemn killing animals but causing suffering. I try to minimize the latter, but I also have to acknowledge that suffering is also a fact of life, so I'll never be rid of it completely, and it's fruitless to try. I've seen ants eat fallen nestlings alive. Nature ain't always the pretty, Walt Disney version that vegans want to embrace.

      So can locavorism support our population? Or does something ickily Malthusian need to happen first?

      I commented to Pearl that I think we'd have to redirect our resources to make it work. We currently spend the least out-of-pocket for food of any developed nation, but those costs still exist, just in less obvious form, primarily through massive government subsidies to Big Ag (which We the People pay for from our taxes) and inflated health care costs. Why not subsidize healthy, sustainable food? Aside from pressure from the multi-billion-dollar conventional ag industry with its big mouth and well-heeled lobbyists, it'd be more logical to subsidize broccoli farmers over corn farmers manufacturing nothing more than the raw materials for high fructose corn syrup and Big Macs.

      As for whether sustainable agriculture can support a large population, here is an interesting article from a Berkeley researcher suggesting that it can. If I'm remembering correctly (it's been a while since I read it), the gist is that conventional ag performs much better at first, but organic eventually catches up, because conventional deteriorates the land while organic sustains and even rebuilds it.

      At the harvest festival we went to weekend-before-last, the keynote speaker was Mike Tidwell, the director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. He pointed to an interesting case study inadvertently undertaken in Cuba; the dissolution of the USSR forced Cuba into an almost fully organic system after they lost access to cheap petrochemical fertilizer imports from the USSR. The transition was apparently rocky, but they produce more food now than they did. I haven't read about this myself, so I need to do my own scrutiny of the situation and evidence, but it certainly raises an interesting possibility.
  • Seconding what GK said about the misleading, emotionally-based tactics of fundamentalists. Not to mention the damaging effects and sheer hypocrisy of many PETA forms of "protest".

    Interesting point: organically raised products (both animal and plant) produce 25% more greenhouse gas emissions than their industrial counterpart. Similarly, cows fed only on grass produce more methane and other emissions that those supplemented with a grain concentrate.

    Interesting point two: recent study (on cows, if I recall correctly) indicates that the level of stress an animal experiences right before slaughter, as measured by stress hormones, is not raised significantly. Which implies that the idea that the animal is aware of its impending death is...at the least, possibly outdated, if not unfounded.

    And Pearl also raises the valid point that sometimes it just isn't financially feasible to avoid industrialized agricultural products.
    • Not to mention the damaging effects and sheer hypocrisy of many PETA forms of "protest".

      *snerk* So true. They exploit women, lesbians, and people who don't meet a certain thinness/beauty ideal so that they can ... protest the exploitation of animals? *brainhurt*

      I've also maintained even since I was a kid and really into the AR movement that the kinds of look-at-me! protests that PETA is famous for only makes them look like fringe radicals, and idiotic ones at that. Educating people who want to learn is much more effective, imo.

      Interesting point: organically raised products (both animal and plant) produce 25% more greenhouse gas emissions than their industrial counterpart.

      I'd be curious to see the study on this. Are they taking into account the fertilizers used to produce the animals' feed or the veggies themselves? Since they are derived through a process that burns immense amounts of fossil fuels, I find that hard to believe--not impossible, but just hard. :)

      Interesting point two: recent study (on cows, if I recall correctly) indicates that the level of stress an animal experiences right before slaughter, as measured by stress hormones, is not raised significantly.

      I've always felt like there is some anthropomorphism at work in the horror people suppose animals feel. I've seen vegamentalists wringing their hands over the cruelty of slaughter where animals are "made" to watch other animals being killed. Animals just don't think that way. If you put a wounded chicken in with her sisters, they will respond by ... eating her. Alive. Yum.

      And Pearl also raises the valid point that sometimes it just isn't financially feasible to avoid industrialized agricultural products.

      I agree! We would need to shift our priorities in terms of subsidies. Massive subsidies make industrially produced food so cheap; if we put those subsidies into organic ag, it too would drop in cost. But, yeah, I'm probably whistling Dixie if I hope to ever see that in my lifetime. ;)
      • Yeah, not to mention poisoning ponds where fishing contests are planned to be held, and sending body bags to unsuspecting puppy buyers and, and, and... I had the pleasure of encountering some PETA protesters at a dog show once...Let's just leave it at *headdesk*.

        I'd be curious to see the study on this. Are they taking into account the fertilizers used to produce the animals' feed or the veggies themselves?

        Believe me there is one. Actually, probably several. The paper I saw was about a centimeter thick. I don't remember whether they meant "organic animals and plant crops only" or "organic animals, plant crops, and their feeds and fertilizers". (I knew five days ago... ;) One of the general gists was that per unit of cow or crop, more greenhouse gases are emitted by an organic unit because said unit spends on average more days on earth. Of course there was much more to it than that, but it's a simple place to start.

        If you put a wounded chicken in with her sisters, they will respond by ... eating her. Alive. Yum.

        Things taste better when they're rrrraaaaww and wwrrriiigggling! ;)

        The other thing I saw recently was a lay-article about the local abattoir, saying, in short: "omg like the horses are led to their deaths by a cold-hearted person who is calm as can be!!!1!" Which...as anyone who really understands animals, especially prey animals like horses, knows, this is the best thing. I'm sure if I walked you along chatting amicably about writing and then shot you right between the eyes, you'd be pretty happy up to the point of death. But if I walked along saying, "Now, it's ok, you have nothing to worry about, it's going to be just fine..." well, you'd probably be quite suspicious!

        We would need to shift our priorities in terms of subsidies. Massive subsidies make industrially produced food so cheap; if we put those subsidies into organic ag, it too would drop in cost.

        I'm not sure subsidizing organic is the way to go; I'm fairly convinced that sustainable and ethical agriculture is possible without being "organic" and adhering to Teh Rules & Regulations of organic classification. However, subsidizing Good Agricultural Practice could be a step in the right direction.

        Interesting thing about subsidies and global welfare! Many activists believe that the removal or substantial lowering of import tariffs on agricultural products for developing nations, such as those in Africa, could greatly improve these countries' economies. As it is now, with the government subsidizing US agriculture, market entry for these poorer nations is impossible. The idea behind removing tariffs would be to give those economies a sort of jump start, like a dead car battery. You don't keep the cables attached to both cars once the engine's running, but the initial jolt got you going without really doing significant damage to the working car. (My research in this area is limited though, as my seminar on the subject was 3 years ago now. I can't be sure what the current philosophy is exactly.)

        Of course, it's all well and good to view it in segments, but put it all together and it really is a massive clusterf*ck!
  • Well said, Dawn!

    This reminds me of why I eat kosher. I know, many people consider kosher slaughtering practices are inhumane, but there is a spirituality about the reason for those laws that honors a lot of what you're talking about here. The recognition that animals are creatures whose pain is worth noting. The prohibition against boiling mother and calf into the same dish. Just in general the restraint on human gluttony... The basic idea flowing through all of that is the idea, that here is a fellow creature worthy of condition, that we trample over at our own risk.

    FWIW, I think that good people can disagree over how to live out these ideals. I don't think Bobby's flexitarianism is any more (or less) right than your own. I think the important thing is to start with that respect and to work from there, to live out those basic principles as much as circumstance allows....
    • Thank you, Marta. :) I had to do some reading up on kosher slaughtering practices; I had always heard of them as the more humane way, so I was surprised to see you refer an opposite perspective! Which made me realize that I knew very little about them at all. Based on what I know of conventional slaughter, shechita doesn't sound any worse. The very fact that it is done with care and consideration (versus trying to keep up with a conveyor belt whipping animals past, which is the usual scenario in conventional slaughterhouses) makes me more confident in it than conventional methods.

      Anyway--tangent! Sorry! :)

      FWIW, I think that good people can disagree over how to live out these ideals.

      Absolutely. I think that's what made me realize at a young age that I wasn't fit for the radical AR movement. Most of the people I knew ate meat. They weren't bad people. They just had different perspectives from me. In truth, I am much more comfortable with Bobby's flexitarianism than I am with my own vegetarianism. I even envy him a little--not because I have a massive craving for a steak but because, at this point in my life, I don't know that I could emotionally handle going back to omnivory, despite my belief that it is the more sustainable choice. I feel like eating meat would still require me to engage in willful ignorance; I simply cannot ponder slaughtering an animal, beyond the intellectual/imaginative experience, and I feel like I have to come to terms with slaughter before I could eat meat in a way that I found honest and respectful. (I say this after spending the last 15 minutes reading about shechita. ;) So I will probably be on the fence for the rest of my life about it and trying to reconcile as best I can my competing impulses.
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