A Soapbox Moment… Why we SHOULD think of animals AS meat

Posted by Erica Jones on

In a day and age of packaged supermarket products, where a large majority of the population only recognise meat when it comes in a plastic, film covered container; where the emphasis on produce is one of homogeneity, consistency and uniformity, it’s very easy to forget that meat originally was an animal.

More importantly, it’s very easy to cater to that mindset.

In our lives as butchers (almost 18years between us) we have been constantly informed by peak meat bodies, and older-wiser-butchers-with-many-shops, that people, (to quote a revered industry semi-celebrity) ‘don’t like to be reminded that their rump steak was once a cow’

Well. We disagree. Entirely.

In fact, we’d go as far to say that only thinking of meat AS a product is one of the reasons we are in the current mess of caged animals, grain-fed beef and cruelly reared pork.

At some point we stopped caring and remembering that the sausages in the shop were once part of an animal with a beating heart.

It might be upsetting to think of that delicious rib-eye or loin chop as once making up part of the integral muscle and skeleton of a beast, but it is in fact, the truth.

Animals – particularly lambs, cows, pigs and chickens – are bred to feed us. Sustain us. Give us minerals and proteins and vitamins that keep us healthy, increase our energy and brain power. We gain so many good things from the consumption of good meat.

To not remember that this same meat was once in fact a living, breathing entity is ultimately disrespectful to that animal and the people that rear them for us. 

birds eye view

Why? Because when we stop thinking of meat AS animals, we allow other people to also stop thinking of meat AS animals. They start being thought of as commodities; as income. They loose their identity.

Sure, it feels wrong to think of an ANIMAL as being mass produced (like you would a shoe) but what about a beef commodity? 

Every part of business and managing business is about cutting costs, creating efficiency, increasing output and minimising unnecessary expenses.

If raising animals for human consumption is a BUSINESS not farming, well – you see where we’re going here right?

In 1920, it took 4 months for a chicken to grow to 1kg. In 2014 it took 5 weeks to grow a chicken to 2.2kg.

That just sounds wrong right? How can you possibly grow a chicken to that weight in that many weeks safely, healthily and gently?

The short answer is: you can’t. I mean, you CAN grow it to 2.2kg in 5 weeks, but it isn’t going to be done in a safe, healthy or gentle fashion.

But how is this allowed to happen? To a hen? To a rooster?

Oh, but remember? It’s not a hen or a rooster – it’s a CHICKEN COMMODITY.

If a chicken isn’t thought of as an ANIMAL, but an item, it makes sense to make it grow more efficiently. To grow it larger. To grow it more cheaply. Thus the exponential increase of growth, in a minimum period of time.

Every time we wince at the thought that the meat we are eating for dinner once used to be alive, we are doing animals are disservice.

By not thinking of meat as ANIMALS, we loose the right to demand ethical rearing, sustainable farming and respectful treatment of those animals.

You can’t call for free-ranging cows that are humanely slaughtered in a stress-free environment on one hand and on the other, frown, because you asked for a whole rump and the butcher said he’ll have to take it off a ‘body’ of beef and you don’t like the sound of it.

It’s this dichotomy of thinking that got us into this situation in the first place: 

  • a world of barn-raised and caged birds,
  • of animals being force-fed to increase their weight,
  • of animals chained in cages and starved of sustenance so they’ll be more tender and pale

It might be upsetting to think about that cruelty, but we have allowed that to happen because we care less about the life of the animal and more about the price we pay for our steaks.

If a free range, ethically reared chicken costs $13.99/kg; how in the world was one that costs $2.78 PER kilogram treated??

At Vincentia Craft Butchery & Providores, we say YES, that rump steak did come from a cow. And it WILL be delicious. Because it came from a happy cow that lived a natural life, foraging for grasses and lying in the shade in the Summer.

It was slaughtered in a stress-free environment by an abattoir that respects the animals that pass through its doors. And an unstressed animal makes for much better tasting and quality of meat.

This shouldn’t be an isolated event. It should be the norm. The fact that it isn’t is a sad reflection on how far we have let things slip.

So Thank You. By supporting us, you are helping to create that norm. As the demand for ethical, sustainable, welfare-conscious farming increases, the pressure to return to this way of rearing animals also increases.

The more people that make that choice; the more happy cows.

We, and the cows thank you.


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