Under normal circumstances, Wild Abundance’s “The Cycles of Life: Humane Slaughtering and Butchery Class” would not inspire me to speak up, but there is a unique twist to what the business is projecting about this specific course. In the course titled “Humane Slaughter,” I see no animal welfare certifications, or certifications of any kind, pertaining to the slaughtering and butchery teachings they offer.
On their website, Wild Abundance does not describe their specific ethics/practices of the all-important step between the pasture and the plate, during slaughter. The use of the term “ethical slaughter” calls into question what ethics, the sacred and humane actually mean to them, so how they define and practice those terms is extremely relevant. What is it specifically about Wild Abundance’s practices that achieve that ethical ideal? Is it a prayer? A song? Does the lamb or sheep sign a waiver? In all seriousness, how did they arrive at this sacred platform?
Personally, I would like to see those words removed from their practices and course description. Wild Abundance has become a part of the trend of claiming one’s animal agriculture methods are of superior ethical standards or that animal agriculture is somehow completely necessary for the basic survival of a farm, a falsehood that warrants detailed explanation.
Having once adhered to plant-based diets, as the minds behind the Wild Abundance slaughter course clearly stated they did, they are likely aware of the stigma, cultural perceptions and biases surrounding individuals who make that choice. Why then did they decide to categorize all vegans together as “bullies” as they chose to do with their continued use of the #stopveganbullying hashtag?
They stated in an online piece that their goals are aligned with vegans and vegetarians, saying “well-intentioned activist groups focus their resources on attacking other like-minded communities, instead of staying focused on the more pressing issues,” yet call vegans out together as one malicious, bullying entity within the same article.
By claiming a humane and ethical method of slaughter, coupled with promoting the #stopveganbullying campaign, Wild Abundance has established a “morally superior — us” versus “extremist vegan — them” scenario, which has been hard to ignore after watching this discussion be revisited both online and in the paper many times over.
To be completely clear, the violence and threats of the obviously deranged individuals who personally threatened them and their families are abhorrent, regardless of their diets, religions, ethnicities, etc. Many have asked why anyone would question the practices of this small, local business instead of just going after large factory farms.
From my own experience, I can say that their vocal stance of being former vegans/vegetarians who have now seen the light, combined with proclaiming their slaughter is ethical and simultaneously promoting the #stopveganbullying campaign, is what finally prompted me to speak up. The average slaughterhouse is unquestionably worse, but they do not claim an ethical slaughter platform and talk about vegan trolls in a local paper year after year.
Additionally, much activism is also often done anonymously or in secret, as the government is historically quick to throw animal and environmental activists on the watch list. I’ve personally tried to adhere to the mentality of “to each their own” regarding dietary choices, but now feel as though Wild Abundance has carried this discussion to the point of being detrimental to the plant-based movement. Ultimately, it is individuals and organizations that are harassing them, not all vegans. It would then logically make more sense to call out those making threats by name, not their personal dietary choices.
In my opinion, it is a privilege to live in a time and place where I can now choose to not support the animal agriculture industry in any capacity, a choice I’ve made despite the fact that I used to work in that industry — and where I saw firsthand that even small, local farms can really miss the mark on animal welfare despite what they intend and project.
It would be quite relevant at this point if Wild Abundance could please describe what ethical, sacred and humane slaughter is specifically, as defined by the business. By not elaborating on the specifics, they are contributing to the misuse of those loaded terms. Of all the forms of animal agriculture, those advocating ethical slaughter practices should probably be the first to truly have glass walls.
As someone who has slaughtered animals in the past in an effort to connect to my food source, I would like to understand how Wild Abundance has gone above and beyond the norm to earn the “ethical, sacred and humane” badge they vocally tout. Being better than the average slaughterhouse is truly commendable, but that does not mean that what is happening there is sacred, ethical or humane.
— Danielle Keeter
Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Wild Abundance’s Frank Salzano, who offered the following response to a summary of the letter writer’s points: “My friend, first off, let me say thank you. Thank you for your deep and genuine concern for animal life. In response to your letter, I will say this: We are a small local school and not a farm or commercial meat producer. We don’t know of any organizations that would certify a permaculture school that slaughters two sheep a year. I guess these organizations just have better places to put their time and resources. If you find a certifying body, please put us in touch with them.
“We are personally aware of, inspired by and certainly live up to the humane slaughter standards of traditional, land-based cultural practices, as well as those standards of modern organizations like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“And thank you to our fellow animal lovers! We need every passionate, caring and courageous soul to stand for justice, healing and renewal in this fragmented and grief-stricken time. Here at Wild Abundance, we have unfortunately spent too much time these last two years dealing with harassment and death threats from animal rights activists all over the world. Yet, we know most animal rights activists are good-natured and nonviolent, and we will always hold a place of compassion, forgiveness and open-heartedness for all well-intentioned lovers of farm animals, even if your misdirected passion finds its way to our humble home or Facebook page. #MakeEmpathyGreatAgain.
“Thanks again, and keep up the good work!
“P.S. Please, please, please leave us alone. Do yourselves a favor and focus your tremendous amount of energy, good intentions and free time on one of the many shady large corporations destroying the world.”