Usually when dealing with these passionate and somewhat radical people, I can internalize and remind myself "it is all for the animals", however I am really struggling with this issue this week. I was contacted by an animal advocacy group over the weekend and was asked to help with the seizure and removal of several hundred animals, including many farm animals. I told them I would help, but after the conversation I felt like I was being judged by the organization because I eat meat and raise my own animals to sustain my life.
In the end, although I was literally 1/4 mile down the road from the seizure, they declined my help. I would be lying if I said that my feelings weren't hurt and I wasn't offended. Here is an animal advocacy group that I have worked with several times on recent situations, questioning my ability to foster animals all because I eat meat. I felt like I was being compared to the cast of Twilight. "Don't let her foster your animals or she might eat them!" I don't like having my love for animals questioned anymore than they like to eat meat!
As strange as it sounds, it is my love of animals that makes me want to farm. For many years I was a vegetarian. I wasn't a vegetarian because I didn't like meat. I was a vegetarian because I hated factory farming. I did not want to eat meat that had been stuffed into cages, never being allowed to touch grass. I did not want to eat eggs from chickens with physiological issues due to living in small cages, with wire bottoms and no sunlight. I did not want my dietary choices to contribute to the cruelty of animals. It wasn't good for my soul.
It is because I love animals that I choose to raise my own meat. I have to know my food personally. In my opinion that is the only way to farm. I want to know my dinner from birth to death and everywhere in between. It is imperative that I know where my animals come from, ensure that they were treated kindly and that they were respected. I have to know that they were free to run around, feel the grass under their feet, the sun on their back and that they, in the end were thanked for giving their life to sustain me. I am not the type of person who doesn't know how they die either, and even that has to be humane. I have watched this process several times, and am comfortable in the fact that I was with them until the end and they don't suffer. I do not take any aspect of this farm for granted. It isn't my style and it isn't why I do this. I farm to nourish myself and my family with whole food that was raised in a humane environment. So don't get mad at me and shun me because I eat meat. I am being a responsible consumer. Do you think less of the person who works along side of you as a volunteer and buys her chicken from her grocer's freezer?! I think not....
I would be a poor excuse of a person if I didn't treat these animals with the same love and respect that I feel I deserve myself. The fact that I eat meat bears no prediction on my desire or ability to rescue animals. Just as these people are concerned for animal welfare, I am too!