Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sentimentality, religion and misplaced values in conflict with common sense

There are different but no doubt interrelated issues that I am trying to address in this blog to try to arrive at rational and logical thought, in order to make an appropriate recommendation with regard to killing and eating flesh.

I shall first state my opinion based on my own beliefs and preferences. I do not have a problem with eating the flesh of any living thing, and I have eaten dog in China, and frog in France, but I prefer to limit my intake to sea and freshwater fish and related crustaceans, rabbit, beef, chicken, pork, lamb or mutton, duck or pheasant, venison and wild boar. In any case my consumption is based on my financial situation, which means I only generally eat the fish I or my staff catch in the waters surrounding my property in much the same way that hunter gatherers did in ancient history. Any of the above for which I have to pay money is generally beyond my meager resources, and usually only enjoy in the company of hosts.

I will not eat the flesh of a pet or an animal I have raised for another purpose, like chickens for eggs or cows for milk, nor sell them for such. Many farmers I know do just that as they see that part of their survival depends on the sale for meat of an animal that has served its earlier useful purpose, to serve a further purpose in death. What does one do with male calves? Knowing that 95% or more gets killed for flesh and every other part of its anatomy, including hides for leather, one has to take a rational approach if one decides to sell.

When I was new to this I was fooled by those who said that they will purchase or take my male calves to rear and not be sold for flesh. I realized that there are more liars out there than people who tell the truth all to make a buck. To explain this further I have been asked to take “pin gonas” once they have been saved from slaughter. I was horrified that the person went to the slaughter house and saved this male calf of less than a year for Rs28,000. It was more likely that the butcher would have purchased this calf for about Rs2,000 solely for the purpose of selling it to a person who would for the purposes of obtaining merit, willing to pay this exorbitant amount as the size of the sum indicated a level of merit to be obtained.

In any case this animal was too small to be killed, so it was a deceptive transaction by the butcher who with the Rs26,000 profit goes and buys a few more fat animals for slaughter. Therefore this person who saves a calf probably makes it easier for the butcher to kill a few more animals with the profit thus earned. In a real sense one could obtain more merit on saving many more calves purchased from people who are willing to sell them or give them free, than going to an abattoir.
I rent out some chicken cages to a person who is an outgrower to a well known farm that produces many types of meat. So once the chicken is about 35 days, they are just taken in a van to the processing plant where the chickens are strung on their feet and a person at the speed of the assembly line chops off its neck, the dripping blood is collected as is most of the unused parts to be cooked and fed to the pigs, as they will fatten on this otherwise wasted product. It is more than likely that the owners of the business have never seen the farm or the processing facility, but are nevertheless very happy to earn a good living this way.

So when one of my readers whose queries led me to write this blog entry asks what types of people kill these lovely animals? All I would say is that the real killer is unaware of what he is doing, while only their poorly paid labor actually perform the task, only to put food on the table for them and their families. The owners who are wealthy could be your local politician or such like as they don’t have to go to work everyday and so are the leisured classes or the ruling classes to whom we continue to give our votes.

Then you are those who say they only eat fish. Tell me why the fish suffers less in death? I challenge that the suffocation they suffer in nets, dying slowly can be more painful and enduring than the quick chop the chicken gets. If one is true about it one should not have different classes for living things, just one and decide not to imbibe in any flesh and not be party to any transaction that helps others make money from this flesh. Therefore the piety charity and merit should be directed at places that permit “pin gonas” to live in comfortable retirement in lands reserved for them and with security provided them from theft for selling for flesh.

Coming back to the dogs I have as pets that started this discussion, I feed them vegetarian food, but have lately decided to give them fish. Other people don’t eat meat but provide meats of different varieties for their pets. In this situation how does one reconcile the two attitudes as long as one purchases the flesh even if it is not for them to consume, but for another to do so?

We then have the issue of the hunter gatherer who hunts just for oneself or one’s family and kills in order to provide them with food just as his ancestors did. Should he also turn vegetarian and desist from killing. Is it the killing or the eating where others are permitted to kill that should be frowned upon? All these points are worthy of consideration before placing value judgments on other people lifestyle. We certainly should live within our principles, but understand where those principles conflict with our behavior, due to our ignorance of the whole picture of what it is we are really trying to do.

I hope this generates a lively debate.

1 comment:

Kirigalpoththa said...

I agree with you on the 'fish', they suffer more than the land animals. If you want proof, go to Kolpetty station at 6-7 in the morning. The fish are caught early hours of the day (1am-3am) and some of the fish that are packed into the train are still breathing.