Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Gul_Dekar

Animals, Cruelty, and Eating

Recommended Posts

My building has been having a bit of a mouse problem lately and as a result, I've caught two mice using sticky traps. There was no way to remove the mice and release them outside without seriously injuring them (I tried on one, it was not pretty), so I had to consciously kill them. The first one I managed to take it out swiftly using the snap trap over its neck. The 2nd one (which a friend asked me not to kill, so I tried to pull it off the sticky trap, which inadvertantly caused even greater suffering) was bit harder, as the snap trap went over its leg instead of its body/neck thus merely adding to its injury and not ending its life immediately. I finally had to bludgeon it with a wine bottle. As you probably can guess, I didn't feel too good doing it, but it was necessary as my housemate has really been freaking out because of this mouse problem.

The whole ordeal sorta got me thinkin' about my meat. Don't get me wrong, I still plan to eat meat but I just sorta thought I should at least either witness a slaugthering of an animal or kill one myself at some point (maybe a chicken or rabbit). So far I've only had to kill lobsters, crab or fish. All of which I've been perfectly alright with. But somehow having to kill something that's pretty intelligent (they've been pretty elusive) and was downright cute in appearance bothered me quite abit (mouse, not a rat). So am I taking my guilty conscience too far, or does anyone else think as a meat eater, one should witness how a live animal turns into prime rib or rack of lamb? Perhaps someone here has had animal slaughtery experience that they can share?

PS: come to think of it, I do remember the passage in Soul of A Chef about how Thomas Keller had to kill rabbits. I guess I didnt really appreciate how hard it actually is to kill something like that until one has to do it themselves.


Edited by Gul_Dekar (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One should always have a healthy respect for where their food comes from, be it protein or vegetable.

That being said, much like brain surgery and rocket science, there are trained professionals to handle the more unpleasant aspects of acquiring said food. There are farmers that raise the critters, there are folks that slaughter the animals and there are those that butcher and package it into those mercifully impersonal styrofoam trays that are wrapped in plastic, weighed and appropriately labelled. Works for me. I don't have to think about it too much. I'm certain if I had to do it myself I'd be much more of a vegetarian. But I'd probably still wear leather shoes as long as I didn't have to do that the hard way.

There are also trained professionals to handle your mouse problem. They're called exterminators. Unless you decide you wish to live with disease carrying rodents (don't forget it was the rats that carried Bubonic Plague and wiped out close to one third of the European population in the 14th & 15th centuries), I strongly recommend availing yourself of one of these fine professionals.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other thing is, there may be holes in your house or apartment that the mice are getting through. I had a recurring problem with mice until the super finally put a metal sheet over the hole in my floor that the landlord had been unwilling to fix since before I moved in. But, you know, I do think mice are cute and I respect their intelligence, but why aren't they smart enough to figure out that they shouldn't be in my apartment? I'm happier not having to kill them, but there's still a glue trap down just in case.

In terms of slaughtering, I am somewhat squeamish about it, but I also think that human beings are omnivorous by nature. Yes, it's possible for humans to survive well without eating meat, and I do doubt that I would eat meat if I had to slaughter it myself and there was enough other food around for me to subsist well on it, but even though I'm conscious of what slaughtering is like -- having witnessed it -- I resign myself to the moral imperfection of eating meat. I think whether to eat meat or not is a very personal decision.


Michael aka "Pan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I come from a family of hunters and fishermen. I am not much of a hunter but I have caught my share of our finny friends and dispatched them for my table. Some would say that fish are not "cuddly" and therefore not a problem. Well, I don't know about that. When you have had that big tuna on to other end of your line and gotten to know it during the hour's battle it took to get it to the boat, you tend to kinda respect the beast. The same is true of the trout or big redfish.

The big buck white tail deer is the same story. You see it standing in the wood. It is so proud and graceful. And one pull of the trigger on the rifle brings it down. Then you have to actually do something with the carcass. You have to take its insides out and get it ready for being meat for the table. The same is true for geese, duck, dove. My nephew is the hunter in the family now. When we are feasting on some of his bounty, we discuss the beauty of the beast and relive the moment of the kill, the nobility of the beast. This is not too far from our distant ancestors, I guess.

In my experience, all of us hunters and fishermen tend to celebrate the lives we take. We may get into it more with the warm blooded animals than the fish but I still respect that big tuna that I boated.

My grandparents at one time raised pigs, and geese, and ducks, and chickens. We respected them as well. And we ate them.

I was raised by hunters and fishermen and taught to respect the lives of the animals that we took to eat. Somehow, that seems a lot more "right" to me than the impersonal plastic wrapped package in the grocery store, even though that is what I use most often these days.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should hear the psychic scream that vegetables scream as they are pulled from the ground or torn from the plant...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We actually did inform our landlord about the mouse problem and they did get exterminators to check it out. Unfortunately, all the exterminator really did was place a few more glue traps and a poison trap thing. Something we could have probably done ourselves. We also tried to seal off all the holes that we could find (there are quite a few where piping goes through).

I suppose I've always tried to respect whatever animal my meat or seafood comes from by trying my best to cook it well, and also dispatching it as quickly and best I can (for the ones I've had experience with so far). it's just that after something like this, I just wonder if that really is enough...

All I can say is, hats off to all the butchers/people who actually have to kill animals for us to eat so we don't have to do it ourselves on a regular basis. I'll also try my best to learn about and respect the food I eat as best as I can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

personally my belief is that if you can't stand to look at an animal being slaughtered, or have the stomach to kill it yourself, than i think it's a bit hypocritical to say it's ok to eat meat. the thread title put it perfectly. the animal died for your enjoyment. show it some respect. life isn't cheap just because it's less intellegent.


bork bork bork

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
personally my belief is that if you can't stand to look at an animal being slaughtered, or have the stomach to kill it yourself, than i think it's a bit hypocritical to say it's ok to eat meat.[...]

Well, I'd find it pretty difficult to be a surgeon, too (not to mention, since I don't have fine enough dexterity, I'd kill people). Should that make me anti-surgery? Many people simply don't like the sight of blood.

For that matter, a lot of people wouldn't want to be farmers, either.


Michael aka "Pan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can use gasoline to free the mouse from the sticky tape.

Obviously dont get it in the mouses eyes or ears

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What if the mouse has a disease or parasites?


Michael aka "Pan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gul, I have a great deal of respect for your thread. I often contemplate the fact the the steak on my plate used to be a walking, living cow. I love meat, but definately don't think I could kill one (unless a pig was charging me :biggrin: )

Sometimes when I eat a lousy piece of meat (tough chicken, gristly beef), I think about the animal that contributed said meat. It must be annoying to them to be born into a factory farm, live their lives in fear and horrible conditions, only to result in a tough chicken breast. Kinda makes you think "what a wasted life". Or how two cows can live next to each other, one to be labelled "prime", and the other "canner". I just hope the prime cow doesnt tease the canner cow too bad... :smile: I joke, but I am (mostly) serious. If an animal has to go through the whole process, it would be nice if their soul was rewarded with a positive response from the jerk eating its flesh...

Damn, where's that coffee?? :smile:


"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Out of interest, what would you do with the mouse if you released it? (Ie free it so close that it wanders straight back, or just far away to be someone else's problem?). I ask because a friend tried a 'humane' trap and released the mouse at the end of the road; it wandered straight back. Of course, if it had wandered next door instead, it would have been a morally more dubious version of having someone else slaughter your meat. :unsure:

Mouse issues aside, I find this discussion interesting because I was a vegetarian for many years and have only recently started eating meat/fish again. As a result, everyone expects me to be ultra-squeamish, while on the contrary I feel that eating offal etc is another aspect of respect to the animal. Similarly, I'm not squeamish about dealing with animals and fish that look like dead animals/fish (I do feel uneasy about anything that looks too sterile on its white styrofoam tray though!). Not that I've actually killed any animals myself, and I have no plans to do so: it's back to KatieLoeb's point that there are people trained to do this. My incompetent attempt could only cause unnecessary suffering.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if humane trapping and relocating a mouse (needs to be miles, btw) is more humane than a quick death in a snap trap.

The mouse is pitched into a strange environment, another mouse's terratory, away from its family, probably to die a slow death from starvation or be caught by the local cat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder if humane trapping and relocating a mouse (needs to be miles, btw) is more humane than a quick death in a snap trap.

My thoughts exactly. 'Humane' and 'non-fatal' are not the same thing...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I absolutely agree that we should be aware about where our meat comes from.

But just because one finds the death of an animal unpalatable or difficult to watch doesn't immediately make it morally wrong. There is a difference between one's possible revulsion seeing an animal killed and one's moral assessment of whether it's justifiable.

Consider changing a nappy (a diaper). It's a pretty unpleasant task from an aesthetic point of view, but no-one would argue that looking after children is therefore morally objectionable. Similarly caring for the very sick, and any number of morally praiseworthy acts. The key thing is not to automatically associate instinctive discomfort or even revulsion with immorality. To judge whether it's right or wrong to kill animals for meat, the rights and wrongs of the issues matter more than squeamishness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Three things here:

First, as interesting as the ethics of mouse trapping may be, let's keep this discussion about food, shall we? Which is to say, unless you're planning to eat the mouse. . .

Second, I do think that it gives one an added appreciation that the meat you are about to eat was once a living animal if you hunt or attend/assist with the slaughter and breakdown of an animal at least once. That said, most people living in urban centers simply do not have that option.

Third, don't for a moment think that the only way animals are killed for food is when they are raised and slaughtered for consumption. More animals probably lose their lives as a result of vegetable farming, they just aren't cute doe-eyed cows.


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't worry so much about the actual slaughter bit (which from what I gather is relatively quick and painless across the board) as much as I consider the way animals lived their lives. Factory raised animals generally lead miserable lives, and that is where the real lack of respect for the food we eat is apparent. At home, we have managed to almost completely cut factory raised meat out of our diet (on a student budget, which mean that a roast organic free-range chicken is good for 10 portions in various incarnations :biggrin: ). By the way, I would highly recommend The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as a reference on the ethics associated with eating meat.


Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What Jackal said. Relocating a mouse (or a deer, for that matter) almost always results in the death of the animal, at least according to my college classes in wildlife management. They get run over, eaten by predators, don't know the escape routes, or get driven out of prime habitat by local animals.

Use a snap trap to kill mousie--they make easy set traps now so you don't have to worry about catching your fingers. If you must use the glue traps, put the gluey mouse in the freezer. It will die quickly. Some folks poke the mousie's nose into the glue, so he suffocates.

Back on topic now--I have been an active participant in obtaining meat. I do think if you are going to eat meat, you should recognize what happens to get that meat into that little styrofoam tray.

I don't think you have to do it yourself, but for Pete's sake, don't whine about someone killing poor little Bambi as you wrap yourself around your quarter pounder.


sparrowgrass

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I have had occasion to kill my own food. Had to kill chickens after raising them to eat. Also shot squirrels.

I detest sticky traps because they torture the mouse. Get some snap traps and flush the mouse.

Or get one that traps them alive and deposit them on your worst enemy. :raz:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started a thread on Chowhound 'Not About Food' on this very topic...

You wouldn't believe the flames cast in my general direction. But it's nice to see the discussion a little more elevated here.

I'm a vegetarian trying to move back into meat eating, mainly because I can't get excited about beans any more. In fact, everytime I think of something I want to eat, it's pretty much always got meat in it. My body (appetite?) wants meat.

This is of course no moral justification for anything, in itself. I'm not one for arguments of the 'if it feels good, it must be right' vein. I thought for a long time that I shouldn't eat meat because I would experience revulsion from a slaughter (e.g. Jude the Obscure) but I've since realised that my squeamishness has no necessary logical connexion with morality (the surgery argument mentioned above is an encapsulation of this point). But it could, if my revulsion comes through empathy. I'm not sure that it does, however, in my case.

There are a few good reasons I've found, though, for moving back. One is that by not eating meat, I damage (in a minutely, totally insignificant way, I admit) both the inhumane and the humane animal producers. When all is said and done, I would much rather see humane production win out ... by buying their product, I increase demand, which will pressure supply, and eventually it will become more available and cheaper. Which means more people will eat it. So if animals are going to die for food, whether I eat them or not, I think it better to support producers who give animals a much better life.

EDIT: I forgot this point, so I'll add it now. If I start to eat well raised meat, it becomes a social 'condition' of eating with me. My family is not going to become vegetarian because I'm one, but they will switch to organic/humane consumers so that I can sit down to dinner with them. So, instead of 3 supermarket meat eaters and one veggie, you have 4 people supporting humane producers. This seems like a better option.

There are holes in the argument above, I admit. It's distastefully pragmatic. Should I not act by Kant's maxim, and act in a way that I would accept my behaviour to become universal law? That is, if no one consumed any animals, would they not be better off? I'm still wrestling with this issue. Yes, all things die eventually. But it comes down to the definition of murder. Why is it alright to kill a pig and not a human being? You can't kill someone and say 'He woulda died anyhow'.

But to avoid dying myself, I must destroy. It is the essence of life. Unless I self-immolate, either a pig gets chopped up, or a hundred sardines, or a whole bunch of plants. How do you weigh life? What is more precious? I would never chop down a sequoia to save a mosquito, but that's how some vegetarians seem to think. Is killing a whale better than killing a hundred pigs, because you end one life rather than a hundred? Is intelligence the only thing that gives life value? I'm beginning to think I must accept a certain amount of destruction in my wake, and the environmental effects of pure vegetarian living (unless I grow all my own food) may be less acceptable to me than a roast organic chicken every Sunday.

Just my long-winded musings...


Edited by Dukeofyork (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I started a thread on Chowhound 'Not About Food' on this very topic...

You wouldn't believe the flames cast in my general direction.  But it's nice to see the discussion a little more elevated here.

I'm a vegetarian trying to move back into meat eating, mainly because I can't get excited about beans any more.  In fact, everytime I think of something I want to eat, it's pretty much always got meat in it.  My body (appetite?) wants meat. 

This is of course no moral justification for anything, in itself.  I'm not one for arguments of the 'if it feels good, it must be right' vein.  I thought for a long time that I shouldn't eat meat because I would experience revulsion from a slaughter (e.g. Jude the Obscure) but I've since realised that my squeamishness has no necessary logical connexion with morality (the surgery argument mentioned above is an encapsulation of this point).  But it could, if my revulsion comes through empathy.  I'm not sure that it does, however, in my case.

There are a few good reasons I've found, though, for moving back.  One is that by not eating meat, I damage (in a minutely, totally insignificant way, I admit) both the inhumane and the humane animal producers.  When all is said and done, I would much rather see humane production win out ... by buying their product, I increase demand, which will pressure supply, and eventually it will become more available and cheaper.  Which means more people will eat it.  So if animals are going to die for food, whether I eat them or not, I think it better to support producers who give animals a much better life.

EDIT: I forgot this point, so I'll add it now.  If I start to eat well raised meat, it becomes a social 'condition' of eating with me.  My family is not going to become vegetarian because I'm one, but they will switch to organic/humane consumers so that I can sit down to dinner with them.  So, instead of 3 supermarket meat eaters and one veggie, you have 4 people supporting humane producers.  This seems like a better option.

There are holes in the argument above, I admit.  It's distastefully pragmatic.  Should I not act by Kant's maxim, and act in a way that I would accept my behaviour to become universal law?  That is,  if no one consumed any animals, would they not be better off?  I'm still wrestling with this issue.  Yes, all things die eventually.  But it comes down to the definition of murder.  Why is it alright to kill a pig and not a human being?  You can't kill someone and say 'He woulda died anyhow'.

But to avoid dying myself, I must destroy.  It is the essence of life.  Unless I self-immolate, either a pig gets chopped up, or a hundred sardines, or a whole bunch of plants.  How do you weigh life?  What is more precious?  I would never chop down a sequoia to save a mosquito, but that's how some vegetarians seem to think.  Is killing a whale better than killing a hundred pigs, because you end one life rather than a hundred?  Is intelligence the only thing that gives life value?  I'm beginning to think I must accept a certain amount of destruction in my wake, and the environmental effects of pure vegetarian living (unless I grow all my own food) may be less acceptable to me than a roast organic chicken every Sunday.

Just my long-winded musings...

I was raised non-vegetarian, by scientist parents who overturned

generations of vegetarian tradition in favor of what was deemed

healthy at the time.

and I have changed right back to being veggie, for similar reasons.

my family is now veg (DH, self, 2 kids) because mainly i cannot

see any good reason to return to eating meat, other than my

own greed. and contrary to my parents' day, most of our

health issues these days are due to over nutrition than under nutrition...

and thankfully for my greed, the indian vegetarian cooking tradition,

more than amply supplemented by those from other cultures,

ensures that i will never be bored in many lifetimes.

occasionally i even enjoy "fake meats" but there's more than

enough options without those....

i have honestly yet to get bored ......

plus, the main thing to me is that

the world population is now 6+ billion, and cannot be sustained

on a meat-centered diet. estimates say how many litres of water

and kilos of grain are needed to produce 1 kg of meat?

and 1 kg of meat is one meager meal for 4 people whereas

1 kg of dal (or 1/2 kg dal and 1/2 kg rice if you are being picky)

will feed family of 4 for about 3 meals).

The rate at which we are overconsuming our resources,

and daily hearing stories about overfishing of species,

destroyng wetlands to construct shrimp farms,

razing amazon forest to grow soy to feed cattle (not humans) etc.

makes me sure that future generations are going to look back

and say "what the %%^& were you all doing?!"

(these criticisms can be applied to commercial large scale agriculture

too, but it takes less plantbased food to sustain populations compared

to animal based food)

re value of life etc. the jain religion really has this worked out very

well and very consistently: live according to ahimsa (non violence)

and don't subsist by taking the life of sentient beings - they are not

"placed on earth to be eaten"... so that rules out not only

animals as food, but also take mice in humane traps, rule out widespread

pesticides, etc etc.

in jainism, the most spiritually advanced persons are encouraged

and venerated for choosing the most consistent way to die:

fast unto death (recognising that non-sentient life, plant life, is also

equally valuable). but clearly this is not for everyone and even among

jains this is hardly a common thing..... beyond extremely rare.

a related query: why do veggies invariably get cautioned

"oh, you must be careful to balance your diet" while

meater c ounterparts who get almost no fruits, veges, or grain,

don't get parallel cautions?

and what was with anthony bourdain in the eg thread criticizing

vegetarians for being self righteous and afraid to

eat new "wierd" foods?

i find that MUCH more among meaters,

and i think veggies are much more open to international cuisines,

different ingredients, etc...

milagai

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One should always have a healthy respect for where their food comes from, be it protein or vegetable.

mercifully impersonal styrofoam trays that are wrapped in plastic

I agree with your first statement, but I think that the second one doesn't support it. Impersonally wrapping your fodder in styrofoam removes us from the actuality that our food sources come from animals (at least a significant amount for a significant population).

From a physics/chemistry/Gibbs Free Energy (yes, I spend too much time thinking about those), it takes a lot of concentrated energy for life to exist. In both chemical descriptions, and visual descriptions, this leads to violence.

My significantly skewed point of view describes morality and ethics as a chauvinism derived from real consciousness and ability to communicate. I.e. we think we're superior from things that do not do these things as well as we do, so we try to distance ourselves from animals to assist our feelings of superiority and dominion. But, we are still tied to these traditions based on things like animals being good sources of concentrated energy.

Thusly, we balm ourselves by distancing our view of this violence with cute packaging, etc. And then many of us turn to the National Geographic channel and watch a lion take down a gnu and call it educational, but we would never go into a ranch, feedlot, or meat packing plant to see how our food is actually made.

I think this is due to a distaste for seeing violence that actually affects us personally--(digress)and I personally find that somewhat unhealthy(/digress). But, this distaste makes us less effective at dictating where our food comes from because it makes us ignorant of some of the finer points.

So, as long as we only accept in an ancillary manner our animal origins and try to ignore the violence that our society performs for our food supply, we will be at the mercy of those who are accepting of understanding these two areas (e.g. farmers, ranchers, ConAgra, Cargill, etc).

Life isn't clean, and we're fooling ourselves if we try to believe it is.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can use gasoline to free the mouse from the sticky tape.

Obviously dont get it in the mouses eyes or ears

And don't let him smoke immediately afterward!

SB (would want a cigarette after such a harrowing experience, although he quit eight years ago) :wacko:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can use gasoline to free the mouse from the sticky tape.

Obviously dont get it in the mouses eyes or ears

Fingernail polish remover also works. FNPR is also slightly less damaging on the physiological structures of the mouse... But not much.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The way I see it, there are three ways of looking at the issue:

1) We're no better than any other animal. In which case we should feel free to eat other animals for sustenance, just like the many other animals which do so.

2) We're superior beings to other, non-human animals. In which case other animals serve our needs, including sustenance.

3) Other animals are superior to us. In which case we should feel free to eat other animals in order to eventually climb (eat) our way to the top of the pile.

Some people subscribe to position #1, but think that being equal to other animals means living in peaceful harmony. I'll check this with the fox and hen next time we all get together.

Some people subscribe to position #2, but think that our intellectual superiority dictates choosing not to eat animal flesh. I haven't seen a good, logical explanation for this, yet.

Some people subscribe to position #3, but think that means we need to worship animals as being better than us. This is simply repulsive, and, if true, I'd rather eat my way to the top than live in such slavery.

Seriously, though, I do think that people should be aware from wence comes their food. I used to think that everyone should try to kill/butcher a food animal (so I did try it), but now I don't think that's necessary. I'll settle for people trying to find out how their food was raised and butchered. I know at least one woman who wants to believe that all meat comes from the store, wrapped in plastic and styrofoam, and frozen in geometric shapes. If it bears any resemblance to an actual animal, she doesn't want to eat it. And this is a farmwife. I'm not sure what that means, but it doesn't seem right somehow. But I know that she knows from wence it comes.


M. Thomas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...