Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bird Bath

Every time I look at this bird I can't help wondering why we are doing this. Generally we are vegetarian. This started more for health reasons, but was also influenced by a student film I saw long ago on slaughtering cattle. My time living in a Buddhist country also had influences I'm sure, though most Thai people do eat meat.
I tried to think about this in positive terms. This picture is the herbal massage of the bird. Next it will go in the sauna. But that's just the sort of imagery that enables us to ignore what happens to the bird before it gets into our refrigerator. We did buy a free range organic turkey so that is some solace. But I suspect the video below is more typical than not. Turkeys, chickens, pigs, cows are all treated as manufactured products, not as living things whose lives are taken with reverence and thanks. And having taken the life of a living creature, do we use all its parts, so as not to waste the life we have taken?

I was always amazed when Americans during the Vietnam war disparaged the enemy for not respecting life. Buddhists are human beings as our Christians and Jews and Muslims. Few live the values of their religion all the time, many try, some only give it lip service. But Buddhists very explicitly hold all life as sacred. Not just human life. Killing a mosquito destroys karma. It isn't equal to killing a dog which is not equal to killing a human. People I knew would help flies and mosquitoes out the window rather than kill them. Whereas Americans think nothing of killing non-human life.

I think respect for animal life disappears when people are separated from the raising of the animal and the eating of the animal. If you raise the chicken or lamb, you know how much work has gone into it. You know the miracle of an animal growing from nothing into a living sentient creature and so when you kill it for food, you understand exactly what you are killing. And you do it with mixed emotions. You don't have that understanding when you buy it wrapped in plastic in the supermarket. Maybe that's why Amerians cannot imagine eating dog meat. But we can't understand that Hindus feel the same about beef. The video shows us what happens when modern efficiency rather than humanity rules how meat is produced. Of course I don't know how typical this is or even who this guy is. But it is consistent with other reports on the food industry I've read and watched, starting with Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.


  1. This film is brutal and is about meat industry. You should go and see the Meatrix, an online cartoon film about similar things in the style of the Matriw trilogy. Just google meatrix, and you'll have the link.

    But this is industrial and soul-less animal keeping. I like that you bought organic meat. Organic meat is THE solution to meat eaters.

    We keep chicken, raise them from our own eggs until they are mature. Hens lays eggs for the next generation, roosters are eaten. Old hens are also eaten. We love them from the very first day, keep them as natural as we can, while protecting them from predators, and we do slaughter and kill them at the end.
    Keeping, loving and finally killing an animal really evokes mixed emotions.
    It is tough.

  2. SzélsőFa, thanks for your comments. I have seen the meatrix. Thanks for reminding me, that probably would have been a better link. Readers can see it here.


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