Why I Need to Kill a Chicken


Don’t judge people. Read!

I’m not a vegetarian, and until the past few years, I really didn’t understand why someone would even want to be a vegetarian. Meat is so good! I’m not talking about just the steaks or prime cuts of some farm animal. Just about anything is made tasty with a little animal product.

Green Beans – give ’em some bacon drippings, if not actual bacon. Veggie chili…seriously??? Get some hamburger in there! Soups can always benefit from bacon or sausage. And who doesn’t find chicken noodle or beef noodle a lovely fall dinner? And don’t discount those organ meats either! Fry me up some gizzards or make a giblet gravy for extra yum. Have you read my post on Biscuits and Gravy yet???

I’m a cattleman’s daughter, so I inevitably grew up with a diet that included meat, and I continued that similar attitude towards food into my adult life. Whatever meat I ate, I knew which animal and where in that creatures body I was enjoying. Several ongoing jokes include: “Pick out your turkey from a farm. Name it ‘Dinner’.” Or when visiting my dad’s cow herd, I look straight at a calf and say, “Hi, Hamburger!”

A few years ago, I started hanging out with some vegetarians whose dietary decisions were not based on “Meat is icky” or “Those poor non-humanely treated animals.” While one of my friends has ethical issues with the meat packing industry, her main reason for being a vegetarian is that she is unwilling to kill an animal for its caloric value. And if she is unwilling to do that task to get meat, why should she force someone else to do the dirty work?

In the past year, I’ve also been exposed to this awesome cookbook: How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis. In one of the chapters, he describes the day he learned where the family’s Pascha (Easter) lamb came from. The lamb gave its life so he and his family could eat and have a feast; he had played with the lamb in the yard for the past few weeks. He was charged to honor the lamb’s sacrifice by not wasting any part of it. Don’t shun the food or push it away on the plate; that is not only an act of being ungrateful to the cook, but also the animal who is being served.

There is also a growing movement to apply some of Michael Pollan’s suggestions regarding eating “real” food, not too much, and mostly plants. Believe me, said cattleman father would rather I eat dirt than read Pollan’s books. Don’t worry, Dad, I’ve only browsed through them. However, the concepts in the title and by lines are enough to trip my brain to over-drive. I should eat better food. It might be dishonoring to an animal to push away a portion on your plate, but it seems to reason that one is dishonoring by turning a good chicken into salt-laden homogenized deli meat.

Thus, in the past few years, I haven’t become a vegetarian but definitely more appreciative of the living creatures who are bred and raised for their genetic qualities in order that I might have a hearty meal. I have yet to kill a chicken or other tasty animal nor do I think my resolution is the blanket cure for all omnivores. I do hope that one day, I get the chance to be entirely grateful to an animal’s sacrifice and fully appreciate my protein of choice.

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