Sunday, October 23, 2011

Slaughtered with dignity. Consumed with gratitude.

The animals grazed placidly, majestically, almost pre-historically…
The more an author rhapsodizes over a grazing animal, the more certain you can be the author will soon be eating that animal for dinner.

This author is describing a buffalo hunt he witnessed.  Like many compassionate carnivores, he takes great pride in his willingness to “see where his meat came from.”  He records the “harvesting” of the buffalo with a weeping pen.  He talks about the other buffalo bowing their heads in grief.
I felt the ache of witnessing death.  I wasn’t alone in my sadness.  As the rancher knelt over the buffalo and hoisted it by chains with the bucket of a loader, the rest of the herd drew in close and lowered their heads. The sight of animals mourning … humbled me to my carnivorous core.
Does "the ache of witnessing death" inspire the author to consider giving up meat?  No, it inspires him to get out his thesaurus and use up every word listed under honor and dignity.

“I slit the animals’s throat because I was fucking craving a big juicy steak” sounds way too profane, so the compassionate carnivore dresses things up with the noblest human impulses.

In Michael Pollan’s 36-hour dinner party “Mike wants to ‘honor the goat’ by wasting as little of it as possible."

Then there’s Katherine Friend’s letter to the lamb.
Tomorrow morning when we load you onto the trailer for your trip to the abattoir, we will be thinking about the life you’ve lived on this farm – running around the pasture at dusk, sleeping in the sun and grazing enthusiastically for the tenderest bit of grass.  We will say aloud, "thank you."
 The compassionate carnivores are always thanking and praising and honoring the animals they kill, as if the animal knew how hungry they were and, in a moment of selflessness, decided to offer up its flesh. 

By making the act of slaughter more than mere slaughter, by transforming it into something ceremonial, the compassionate carnivore is able to convince himself that subjecting animals to the most gruesome fate imaginable is a morally praiseworthy act.