Have you heard about these books promoting vegan lifestyle to children? The latest book is called Vegan is Love. I first read about them in Drovers magazine, and then in an article written by Amanda Radke on the Beef magazine website. I was trolling through the comment section (Click here for the full article) when I read this comment: “ It may be graphic and I would probably hesitate to show otto(?) (I assume they mean our)children, but is the depiction in these books untrue? At some point children should learn about slaughter. By James Saunders on May 3, 2012”
This comment struck me like lightening - stopped me in my tracks. I had to ask myself - when did I learn about slaughter?
I had to dig down deep in my recollections for my first experience to animal slaughter. I think I was in kindergarten. We were at my grandma's house. It was a chicken slaughter day. It was my chore to push my baby sister around in her stroller while the adults worked. They killed, pluck, and gutted 50 + birds that day. Nowhere in that memory could I recall my mom or dad sitting down and explaining to me what was going to happen or what I would see. Did I ask questions about the process, yes! But they gave me answers I could understand. It didn't make me angry or sad that they were butchering chickens. I knew they were not pets - they were not like my dog Buddy, or the neighbor’s cat. I knew I liked chicken nuggets and they came from chickens. It made sense, in my little kid brain. It wasn’t cluttered with ideas about animal welfare, or the ethics of why we eat meat. Because I was a kid! Those are adult concepts! Should children be taught about slaughter – YES by all means! But are these books the answer - I'm not so sure. I have yet to find and read one myself. So I can not offer a fair opinion on their content. I can only offer my thoughts on teaching children about slaughter.
Since that bygone day at my grandma’s house, I have been a part of several more butchering days. Raising several butcher steers, and hogs. I went as far as taking a meat science class in college and learned the mechanics of the industry. In that class we butchered lambs, beef, and pork. I made a point to work at every station, and get my hands dirty. I will be blunt – it is not a pleasant job. It’s not my favorite thing to do. But I learned that these animals have a purpose. They were raised to feed people. I cannot stress that point enough.
As farm kids raised with livestock we knew that these animals were not pets. Livestock are there to feed our families and others around the world. While we loved these animals, cared for and even named a few of them we knew what would happen in the end. (I know I risk sounding hokey, or corny with this next statement.) Being raised on the farm we learned that cattle, hogs, sheep chicken, goats etc. have a noble purpose. They die so that we may eat and nourish our bodies. This is a very important thing to learn as a child, which is the concept we need to teach our children today. Farming and Ranching is love! I want to see that book on the shelf!