9 min read

Where is the humanity in "humane meat?"

<p> Leanna Papp </p> <p> <br> </p>

When attending the DC Vegfest last month, my friends and I were on a hunt to find the most message-heavy vegan t-shirt ever- nothing too cutesy or easy to ignore. With a fire lit under our vegan butts, we wanted to get a strong message across. Well, after combing through floofy tee after floofy tee, we found it: the big scary monster of vegan t-shirts- the message, "HUMANE MEAT IS YUPPIE BULLSH*T" plastered across the chest of a gray baseball shirt. It's courtesy of my new personal heroes, Herbivore Clothing. At the bottom in small print? "Ask any cow." Ask any cow, indeed. After all, animals have an instinctual will to live, and the "humane" meat movement seems to forget that.

I've heard it said before that the "farm to table" movement is what caused vegan activist's traction to slow down in the mid 2000s. With consumers thinking that they have their meals all figured out, for many people the act of eating once-living flesh was considerably less gruesome than it was before. The pig, cow, chicken, or goat lived a happy life, grazing in a meadow and kickin' it with all of his or her animal buds, before willingly trotting down to the slaughtering barn to give their murderer a quick fist bump and bro-hug before dying and reaching Bacon Heaven.

Personally, I wasn't buying it. After all, killing is killing, no matter how good of a life one has led, but my argument against it wasn't as emotionally charged as my anger towards factory farming- at least until I read a personal account of the raising and slaughter.

"LittleBigBus.wordpress.com" is an otherwise charming blog documenting a simpler life away from the craziness of the suburbs and the city. The author shows what it's like to be a homesteader, with breaks here and there to show us his dog running on the beach (I silently wondered- would he eat his dog?) and attending a beautiful wedding. He also showed us what it was like to raise baby piglets to be slaughtered and eaten. Piglets raised with love, and affection, and respect. Piglets raised a humane way, to become "humane" meat.

A former friend.https://littlebigbus.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/pig-...

The picture above is what broke my heart in two and disturbed me in a way I hadn't felt in a long time. "Look at Amy smiling," he writes, and look, indeed, "She watched these piglets born from mama pigs she raised like pets. Look at her face. It speaks volumes to the kindness of this process, and to her own strength, that she was able to stand so close, to watch, and to joke and laugh."

Here, we look upon a woman watching the blood drain from a creature she gave attention, sweet moments, and gentleness to. I found the glee in her face to be jarring, as well as her laugher. Where is the "kindness" is the process? Wherever it is, I can't find it. The pigs slaughtered saw these people are their guardians and entrusted them with their safety. Pigs are naturally social, curious, and playful, and these behavioral traits feel almost exploited when we turn our backs on these beings to consume their flesh.

Another blog post shows a different woman castrating a piglet with her own child strapped to her back, gazing up at the camera, not knowing how another baby below them was being hurt without an afterthought.

The parallels are surprising.https://littlebigbus.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/pig-...

Could you take your dog, kill and eat it? How about your cat? Forget cats and dogs- any creature you had raised yourself?Could you do that and laugh as it happened? Would you worry about the thought process of someone who did? People do it every day- this isn't anything new, but I struggle to wrap my head around it.

I don't know what is "better," and I'm sad that it's an argument that we have to pay mind to. On one hand, we have the crazed pig in the factory farm, devoid of light and socialization and joy, who meets an end just as violent as the dark life he has lived. On the other hand, we have the piglet snuggled up in the arms of a human who she learns to trust. She spends days playing in the grass, and eating from the hands of people who give her love and snuggles. She lives a beautiful life, and one day, strangers take her out of the arms of those she thinks will protect her, and they roll her onto her back, and they cut her throat. These scenarios, those drastically different, are both an act of betrayal at their very core. Which act is "worse?" Is there such a thing as humane meat, when all living beings have the desire and will to live and thrive?

I don't think the answer to that question is as easy as we think it is.