I believe meat is murder. I think it’s downright cruel and disgusting that people abuse, mutilate, and slaughter innocent animals just for their palatable pleasure, and that we turn a blind eye to the suffering of other living beings. Don’t get me wrong – I used to eat tons of livestock in the form of juicy burgers and down nuggets by the dozen. But at that time I never gave any thought to what, or who, I was devouring, nor how it got processed, packaged, and came to reside on my plate.
I’ve lived my whole life in the same neighborhood, one that borders a pasture that is home to a small herd of cows. I probably drove by those animals a million times on my way to school, and a million times on my way back home to grill a steak dinner. I can’t say I made any connection between the creatures in those fields and the meat on my plate, nor pondered how they went from living, breathing beings to steaming, simmering patties. One of those days, though, as I drove past a family of bovines, my gaze met one of theirs’ eyes. What I saw were not dumb eyes, bestial eyes, or appetizing eyes; rather, they had a look of feeling and knowing. In the following weeks, I slowly came to grasp that these animals who filled my belly with their flesh could feel – they know when they are on their way to be butchered, feel sorrow when their children are separated from them at the slaughterhouse, and are fully conscious of the extermination that awaits them. Ultimately, those same eyes I saw so full of emotion fill with fear right before they are dimmed by death for the sake of my dinner.
I quickly realized that I don’t have a beef with cows, so for me, changing my life from one driven by flesh to one lead by vegetarianism revealed itself to be a no-brainer. Frankly, if I can go veg, anyone can, and I believe, looking past the pathos, that it is a wholly rational decision for health and environmental reasons. But for me personally, when I see the mechanized extermination of innocent, sentient beings, I know what I believe in my gut: meat is murder.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.