I didn't want to see a pig get killed. Heck, I don't think anyone does.
But I felt like I couldn't continue eating meat if I didn't. So this summer I embarked on an unpleasant pilgrimage to bear witness to the death of every kind of animal I ate. And in some cases, to kill the animal myself. Before you start with the angry letters, please hear me out. We're probably more similar than you think. Like most of you reading this story, I love animals. I love to pet them. And I love to hold them. But I also love to eat them. So the thought of their execution"something my appetites demand"both frightened and revolted me. But if I couldn't take the reality of what was on my plate, how could I justify eating it? And how could I feed it to my kids? I'd been asking myself this for years, but urban life made it easy to avoid the issue. Meat here comes in manicured cuts covered with shiny plastic. It doesn't have a face (as long as you avoid those ghastly ethnic markets) and certainly doesn't make noise. It's easy to imagine that these cuts come from the rib machine or the chicken tender factory or even the brisket dispenser down the street.
But after reading Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" (2006) in which he personally kills and forages his dinner, I found it harder to tune out the question. My own foodie concerns about the provenance of my meat drove my curiosity further. But the biggest factor was my conviction that it's wrong to ask someone to do something for you that you morally could not do yourself.
Could you kill your own meat?
Rosa, 14, and her friend Fabia Howard-Smith are two of 20 year 9 Timbertop students attending the Royal Melbourne Show with nine steers raised at the campus in the foothills around Mount Buller. Their steers are going head to head with others raised by secondary school and TAFE students from country Victoria and NSW in the Show's "beef carcase competition".
Having been judged "on the hoof", the steers will now be judged "on the hook" by meat experts at an abattoir tomorrow. Schools use the competition to teach students agricultural and animal husbandry skills, discipline and responsibility. It also teaches them how meat gets from the paddock to the plate.