Friday, December 5, 2014

Commentary on Killing Animals

A goat at the Santa Ana Zoo investigating us
I read a very touching article today on Huffington Post about a farmer who grows plants, raises animals, and enjoys hunting. The post is titled "Do I Enjoy Killing?" by Jenna Woginrich, a small farmer who was once a vegetarian herself. Even though I'm a vegan, I can appreciate what she has to say. In fact, it may have swayed me to allow my toddler to have some crab at Grandma and Grandpa's on Christmas Eve.
The title of the article comes from criticism she has faced by animal rights activists which is an over simplistic criticism. The statement reminds her of a school trip to a river. A fish was injured and beached, dying when a school boy dropped a rock on its head to "see what would happen." This infuriated Jenna. So when being accused of enjoying killing, in the end she concludes that she is not like the boy and she does not enjoy killing. She kills because it is necessary, she loves the animals, and loves her family. I really respect that. She even mentions how when roasting a lamb, she fasts all day so she can enjoy the lamb in the evening. As Byzantine Catholic, I really appreciate that attitude.
In the article, Jenna talks about what green eating really means. She knows all about factory farms, but one thing that I even struggle with that she mentions in the article is tofu. Soy beans are grown on a farm, shipped to a facility where they are processed, packaged, and shipped to the big city where I can buy it. When she goes hunting, she captures an animal that has been living in the environment around her. Which one sounds more environmentally sound? I do not have personal experience with farming as Jenna does, but the type of farming I have heard about that seems the most green is one that raises all the animals, allows them to do their unique chicken, cow, pig, etc. behavior, and grow crops on the same land. This is the type of farming children are taught about, but sadly is not what most farms look like. It is, however, what Jenna's farm sounds like.
Jenna loves sharing her animals with her friends and family. On their plates of course. In the article, she takes possession of her flock of sheep. She makes sacrifices to keep them comfortable, she knows what they give her, and she cares deeply for them as any good shepherd would. This is the Catholic attitude of animals. They are not to be placed above humans or even equated with humans. They are to be cherished and used as deemed necessary. When used properly, animal meat can be used to bring families together as a celebration like Turkey on Thanksgiving or Dungeness crab on Christmas Eve.
My blog post in response to Ms. Jenna's article may seem confusing considering I'm vegan. In my blog post "Debunking the Catholic Vegan Myth", I talk about how theologically sound it is to be either vegan or non-vegan, but factory farming is not the way to be non-vegan. Jenna's farm clearly embodies Catholic teaching on the treatment of animals and her attitude towards her animals is quite touching. In fact, her article is more loving towards animals than any other piece of writing I've read about being vegan.
If I appreciate Jenna's point of view, why do I continue to be vegan? As I explained in my blog post, I like it. I just do. No, I won't be eating crab on Christmas Eve with my family, but I don't really want to. Just before college, I knew my vegetarian options would be slim in the dining hall, and with the stress of starting a new life, I did not want to put in the effort to be vegetarian. The first non-veg meal I had was a Burger King Wopper. I was overwhelmingly unimpressed. As I ate my burger, I thought to myself, "I wish I had ordered the veggie burger." Since then, I have had In-N-Out and found a burger made of meat that I actually like. That has been the only real hamburger I have eaten that I've enjoyed and probably the only one I ever will eat if I ever eat meat again which is quite unlikely. However, if the need to buy meat should ever arise for family or any other reason, I will only buy ethically raised meat products from farms like Jenna's.

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