Letter writer: We don’t need to slaughter a sheep to learn ‘where our food comes from’

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Wild Abundance, a homesteading business near Asheville, plans to teach a “humane” do-it-yourself slaughtering workshop that will include the killing of a live sheep. The instructors and self-styled “ethical butchers” leading this class promote the idea that what’s needed to bridge the gap between urbanized meat eaters and the animals behind the meat is to slaughter their own animals. Look your chicken or your goat in the eye and “honor” the animal as you slice “its” throat and watch “it” suffocate to death in “its” own blood.

Bear in mind that serial murderers “bond” with their victims — they know their victim’s pain and experience it vicariously as pleasure. Bonding and “connecting” do not necessarily entail compassion and violating another’s body does not lead to sympathy with the victim. Indeed, hurting others is a thrill for many people who lust for more of the delicious sensation. We know this is true when it comes to humans intentionally hurting other humans, but when it comes to humans intentionally hurting animals, the rhetoric disconnects from reality as easily as the face disconnects from a small helpless body under the smack of a hatchet.

One of the instructors of this upcoming class, and the person who will kill the sheep being brought in for this “honor,” is local butcher Meredith Leigh, who states [in a February Ashevegas interview] that “ego is largely to blame about why we get so upset about eating animals. We assume we are important . . .  our ego just gets in the way.”

Yet her position is infected with ego, based as it is on the entitled idea that “might makes right,” and that dietary preference is more important than an animal’s life.

When you choose to kill an animal for culinary pleasure, you are saying that for you, this animal is nothing. You are everything. And since animals have no protection against us, we can say and do whatever we please about our reasons for destroying them.

Beyond the injustice of killing animals needlessly, farmed animals are inefficient converters of food and require far more crops, land, water and energy than sustainable plant-based agriculture. If Wild Abundance truly aspires to be a model of sustainable and ethical living, they should focus instead on regenerative plant-based food production.

Thank you for your attention.

— Karen Davis
United Poultry Concerns
Machipongo, Va.

Editor’s note: A response from Meredith Leigh appears in the letter “Slaughtering Class Is About Life and Awareness” in this issue. Also, an update: Leigh stated in a Nov. 14 blog post that she will no longer be the person slaughtering the sheep at the workshop, but that another farmer will conduct the demonstration.


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52 thoughts on “Letter writer: We don’t need to slaughter a sheep to learn ‘where our food comes from’

  1. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    “since animals have no protection against us, ”

    To a very large degree, those animals would exist if it weren’t for “us”. “We” are the reason for their existence.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      “would exist” should read “wouldn’t exist”.

    • boatrocker

      Sure, cuz humans invented animals. How again do all those animals exist in Nature without our help again, Farmer Snow?

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        Domesticated animals have, for the most part, had their wild instincts for survival bred out of them, and dependence upon humans for sustenance and protection bred into them.

        • The Real World

          Do as you like but, it is mostly fruitless attempting to have reasonable discourse with the troll that is boatrocker.

          • boatrocker

            No, actually I’m an omnivore and can differentiate both wacko loon extremes and offer as a sane alternative
            -buy local meat from local responsible livestock stewards or

            or do your genius superpowers not work for the written word if Hillary is not involved for, you know,
            every other pertinent issue affecting humans?

            “Lead, follow, or git outta the way”- Idiocracy

    • That’s an irrelevant consideration. Just because human beings arranged things so that the current generation of captive, enslaved farm animals was born from an older generation, it does not follow at all that human beings are therefore entitled to do whatever they want to those animals. Human beings also arrange things in such a way that they give birth to children themselves, but as we know very well, parents do not have power of life and death over their children, and in fact can get into serious legal trouble for abusing their responsibilities toward their children.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        But animals are not humans, have no human rights, and cannot argue for their own rights thus making them dependent upon and subject to those who raise them. Also, without human intervention, many, if not most, domesticated farm animals would cease to exist. So their very existence depends upon human choice to raise them. That comes at a cost, and humans are therefore entitled to recoup their costs.

          • dyfed

            I think humans are more than animals and worth more than animals and I suspect most people agree.

        • Da Muller

          Snowflake, hmm, you sound like a flake. I suspect your maturity has not caught up with your chronological age. You parrot standard common societal sheeple nonsense. And, if your nonsense had some validity, it would be better for animals not to exist rather than exist to be commodities for greedy, selfish humans. And when humans consume other beings, it ceases to be a personal choice. Humans are the most arrogant, dangerous predators on earth.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            It must really suck to be a self-hating human being. Animals aren’t that conflicted, dysfunctional and confused. And maybe hate is the root of intolerant veganism. I would bet (and would probably win that bet) that most radical self-hating vegans voted for Clinton and Obama (the Nobel peace prize recipient), who are both responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of human beings in N. Africa and the Mideast (and the suffering of millions). Yet nary a peep out of self-righteous vegans about their enabling of this slaughter of human beings, while they wag the finger in their sanctimonious moralizing about the slaughter of animals. Maybe that’s the way they expiate their hypocrisy and guilt: love animals more than humans.

          • boatrocker

            You nailed it about humans as arrogant. didn’t you?
            I suspect ‘Kettle Calling out Pot” was taken for a posting handle here, right?

          • Da Muller

            Snow*flake* – Referring to your reply to me, I repeat “… your maturity has not caught up with your chronological age.” I rest my case. And BTW, I caution you not to seek a career in psychology. You would be doomed to fail.

          • Da Muller

            boatrocker, you post two questions to me. If the questions made sense, perhaps I could give you some answers.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            A career in psychology? What a waste of life. I could probably run circles around most psychologists who are constrained by their indoctrination. Those who are inebriated with a sense of superiority have to resort to ad hominum slurs when they are forced to step outside of their box, as you have repeatedly done.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            btw, it was a standing joke when I was in college that psychology majors were the ones who were disturbed and where majoring in that field so that they could figure out their own mental/emotional problems.

        • Suri Smith

          So, Mr. Snowflake, Might equals Right? If you can dominate someone, then you have the right to do as you please with them? If you buy a girl dinner, do you then have rights over her body for the evening? If you can force yourself on someone, does that make it OK for you to do it? If you participate in giving birth to a child, do you then own that child? Are you allowed to murder that child? Are you allowed to prostitute that child to “recoup your costs”?

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            You guys so love to make these fallacious false equivalencies. Clue to the clueless: animals are not someones. They are not human; they will never attain to human consciousness. So the only way you can make humans equivalent to animals is to reduce humans to the level of animals, thus denying their humanity. Sorry, I’m not interested.

  2. boatrocker

    Ding ding! Search word algorithms have alerted the veggie reactionaries that the entire mailing list should pile on the Mtn X for running a story, LTE or even mentioning meat.

    Here’s to hoping someday the waaah meat types someday divest themselves for being bedfellows with the same anti abortion types for avoiding science and clinging to anthropomorphic beliefs. Salut.

  3. Plants4Hunger

    Thank you, Karen. I hope to write back more to your powerful letter. Until then, here’s my comment to Meredith’s response since people may not read both.

    “The dance of life and death?” I’m quite sure the sheep having their throats slit, don’t feel it is a “dance.” Adding a poetic spin doesn’t make hands-on slaughter any more ethical or profound.

    One of the reasons vegans are choosing to focus on Meredith’s work is because she undermines vegan advocacy that actually does save animals. She represents vegans as being upset that she “disagrees.” That’s not the reason. She more than disagrees. She goes so far as to build her brand and increase her sales, by saying that killing/eating animals helps animals more than NOT eating them? Why, yes, that is counterintuitive… because it’s wrong.

    To quote Meredith directly (here and repeatedly) “people who eat meat in America have more potential impact on changing the system in a positive way than the people who don’t eat meat.” #Wrong

    How literally cutting short the life of defenseless animal isn’t an issue of “might makes right” is similarly confounding. She is teaching do-it-yourself slaughter — she is teaching people how to hands-on use/abuse their greater power to destroy and consume animals, then she waxes on about how it’s better for the animals. A way to “honor” them as Wild Abundance states it.

    If Meredith truly eats meat for health concerns, it would be the smallest amounts possible and not framed as a way to honor the animal. She would also never eat other types of meat. Where are those recommendations? Within her own paradigm, she should be advocating veganism at least to the extent that people can’t kill their own animals. Where is that? That’s not popular but giving a free pass to meat-eating is popular and profitable.

    Meredith helps meat eaters feel good about their choices. Not only do they not have to acknowledge the harm they are doing to animals, she lets them feel as if they are helping animals by eating them more than if they didn’t eat them.

    I hope people will closely examine how illogical her positions are and not be persuaded just because she calls them “counterintuitive.”

    Also, the idea that her classes help those who are hungry and impoverished is an appropriation of people’s real suffering. The classes (which cost $350-$600 for a weekend at Wild Abundance – some exceptions considered) are largely attended by middle-income Americans with access to healthful, plant-based foods.

    Meredith continues to play the victim to “extreme vegans” who campaign against her animal abuse without giving the actual ethics question serious consideration or acknowledging the real victims… the animals who die at her hands. She also claims nutrition and science expertise she doesn’t have, making bold statements without any references.

    As a vegan activist who has also spent more than half my life working on ethical food choices, it’s “funny” (except that it’s not), that in reference to her book on ethical meat, she responded “I’m not interested in having that moral conversation… Most of us do eat meat, so let’s have a new conversation about how we do that.” In the same interview, she also acknowledges “that it was a business decision to add meat.” http://www.ashvegas.com/with-the-ethical-meat-handbook-asheville-author-cuts-her-own-path-toward-sustainability.

    As to never calling herself an ethical butcher, please check out her Instagram. In reference to herself she uses #EthicalButcher. If she takes the post down, please email save@let-live.org. There is a screenshot.

    For more vegan response to Meredith’s ethical meat and vegan bullying claims, visit: http://www.Let-Live.org and http://www.Let-Live.org/bully.

    P.S. For all the humane, ethical butchers who slaughter animals to honor them, please stop using cute, cuddly photos of animals that you kill to promote your killing. Vegans are using similar images to try to save animals and show that they have inherent worth.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      I get the feeling that people who advocate for your position, for the most part, have never spent much time raising farm animals. Arm-chair ethicists, so to speak. Am I correct in your case? Raised in a suburb/city, went to college, not much real life experience?

      • boatrocker

        Attention posters, regardless of your position on eating meat-
        Never, ever apologize for gaining an education, though the noveau populists vilify the betterment of one’s self.
        Really? Who denigrates someone for attaining education and where does it end?

        “Arrrrrrr, (unfocused altright anger), ‘them’ and their liberal kindee garten teachers brainwarshin those young and impressionable
        youn uns teachin em to read n count good! Lock em up!” is the logical end to their argument.

  4. Amy Liza Williams

    Reguardless of your opinion or Idelogy. You have no right to harrass and bully another person, or this family run business. I don’t know why this couple is being attacked, when there are so many other and bigger instances of injustice in the word.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        Why don’t you just get a life and leave them alone?

        • Mary Finelli

          Are you so oblivious as to not realize how ironic it is for you to tell someone else to “get a life and leave them alone” when you are advocating taking the lives of innocent beings? How can you be so utterly clueless?

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            Np, I don’t advocate for taking the lives of living beings. Nor do I advocate for not taking their lives. I advocate for people to mind their own business. You can;t do that, can you?

  5. Mary Finelli

    We don’t need to use animals as food. All the nutrients we need to thrive can easily be obtained with a plant-sourced (i.e., vegan) diet. It’s also better for us and for the environment.

    Needlessly harming animal for food or ‘fun’ or any other reason is animal abuse: plain, inhumane, and unjustifiable. Trying to dress it up as some spiritual experience or human-centric right is just wrong.

    This ‘school’ is teaching violence and cruelty, and everyone should be opposed to that.

    • Amy Liza Williams

      That’s great that’s your belief, but is your belief your justification for forcing your views on others? Do you justify bullying and harassing families who just had a baby, as being righteous for your cause? Because it’s worse than jehovah whiteness, or Christian evangelicals. “Do you accept Jesus as your one and only savior? “Why not,?” “We don’t believe in eating meat, you must adopt our viewpoint, or we will Harrass you and send you death threats, while recovering from having a baby, and we will also ruin your family’s way of income too, until you decide to become vegan as well. I

        • boatrocker

          More like the potential Eric Rudolph of Vegetables for schools receiving social media death threats for teaching self reliance and being able to feed themselves.

          If only all vegans could claim 100% food dependency and never have to be caught dead in Unfair (ahem Earth Fare) or Greenbucks (ahem Greenlife).

      • Suri Smith

        People like you really need to learn the difference between “belief” and “fact”. It is a FACT that humans do not need flesh foods or any animal products to live perfectly healthy, robust lives. Millions of vegans prove that every day. Morals are based on beliefs. Moral people believe that it is wrong to kill others for our pleasure. Moral people believe that causing harm, torture and abuse are wrong. Moral people believe that just because you “can” do something, does not give you the right to do something.

        The issue is actually very simple and easy to illustrate for all you meat eaters who believe that it is your right to kill and consume those who have no voice. Whenever you want to make an argument supporting meat eating, just replace the word “animal” or “mean” with “baby” or “grandmother”. Then check out how you feel about your statement, and you get a sense of how vegans feel when you talk about other sentient beings as objects that are nothing more than a resource for you to consume.

        • boatrocker

          In many parts of the world humans do actually consume other humans, and supposedly human s taste like pork, which is why the Pacific Islanders
          call it Long Pork, for humans walking. Properly prepared, I’d have no problem eating human.

          But I suppose your beliefs trump millions of years of human evolution and development. It must be nice to have proved humankind wrong.

    • boatrocker

      It’d be at least nice to hear you admit in print making death threats in order to bully someone into adopting a vegan lifestyle is both messed up and wrong,
      but I guess vegan ethics are fluid.

    • boatrocker

      Who ever suggested feeding yourself was ‘fun’? It’s work. It’s called Darwin’s survival of the fittest.
      Even vegans starve for not having the skills to feed themselves and relying on chain stores to do it.
      I won’t even go into all those starving kids from Africa and India that would slit one’s throat for a chicken mcnugget.

      Growing food is work, if vegans bothered to practice what they preach and
      become 100% food independent so they wouldn’t line the pockets of corporate chain ‘health’ food stores.

      Force feed misinformation down others’ throats much?

      Remind me to take up a cause with the zealoty-ish fervor vegans do:
      In my fair world-

      -ban incense- air pollution
      -ban New Age music on the radio as it causes drivers to fall asleep at the wheel
      -ban all gender implied pronouns and refer to everyone as “Hey, @#$%face!”
      -ban veggie turkey, veggie slim jims, etc as no food should resemble meat even in appearance- for real, why would a vegan eat tofu anything that looks like meat?
      -ban animal euthanasia- adopt it or face jail time
      – adopt at least 3 livestock animals once they are liberated from Dachau, feed, care for and deliver any offspring or face animal cruelty charges
      -wanna eat meat? Participate in a good old hunting, killing, gutting, butchering and cooking of it. Fair enough?

  6. Collene Karcher

    The fact is,
    aside from the unacceptable pain
    and suffering caused by this
    silly—and wow, embarrassing—notion of ethical butchery,
    the planet cannot support
    the mono culturing of animals.
    It cannot support the amount
    of land and water required.
    This is not made up.
    No amount of magical thinking
    or butchering of animals
    in a so called “humane manner”
    will change this.
    It is not responsible
    for Ms. Leigh
    or any other farmer, business, man, or woman–
    anyone–to promote
    the eating of another’s flesh.
    Vegans are simply fighting
    for there to actually BE
    a planet in the future for any child
    born today.
    could Gandhi, Einstein, Rosa Parks
    and daVinci all have been wrong???

    Think about it.

    The truth is, we all want to fly—all of us.
    and we can,
    by going vegan.
    Make the lightest footprint of all.

    • boatrocker

      Sorry, vegans’ your #1 false flag argument is yet again exposed as a myth.

      I know it pains vegans to read others’ posts (block/ignore button much?)
      But nobody eats just meat. Those who maintain a diet of animal and plant (both of which feel pain according to science)
      are called omnivores.

      Sound it out, food fundamentalists-
      Ahhhhm ni vorrrrres.
      Now try acknowledging the word for existing for using it in a sentence.

      “Dick and Jane eat vegetables, starches, sugars, oils, fats and occasional meat that they purchase
      from responsible local stewards of livestock or hunt themselves, and do not just blindly buy from an Arby’s drive through.
      They are called omnivores.”

      Unless anthropology, the Leaky family for archaeology and Darwin were wrong.

      But I never expect valid counter-arguments from vegan bullies to be refuted in a rational matter, and I am never disappointed for my setting the bar low.

      PS, aaaaand no, you can’t fly. Literally or figuratively.
      PSS if you railed as heavily on fossil fuel addiction for screwing up our one and only planet, Nov 8 could have had a different outcome, and
      time travelers from the future wouldn’t have to come back to Nov 8, 2016 in order to ‘save the planet’.

      • Spare me

        Sound it out. Humans are heeeerb ivoooores. They have the ability to be Omani but are built as herbivores.

        • boatrocker

          Address the following then:
          -Binocular vision for depth perception for hunting
          – gastrointestinal system designed to process meat and plant matter
          – both molars for grinding plant matter and incisors for tearing meat matter

          But hey, anthropologists and biologists have it all wrong for ever showing the only way human brains evolved to be dis proportionally more
          ‘powerful’ than most mammals for lack of a better word was via the tremendous calorie rich diet that comes with supplementing a ‘gathering’ lifestyle with a ‘hunting’ lifestyle in order to fuel that big hunk of 3lb fat matter in one’s skull.
          ‘hunting’ lifestyle.

  7. Jeremy

    Very good letter, there is no way to “humanely” kill someone who doesn’t want to die.

  8. Chris

    It’s simple. We shouldn’t be hurting animals. Try compassion. Try veganism.

  9. boatrocker

    Wow, I never put the connection together until reading all these posts- vegans are truly the Jehovah’s Witnesses of food who show up on your doorstep and force conversion upon you. Even down to the foisting pseudo scientific literature at you and the anemic thousand yard post truth stare.
    They both are cults when the day is done.

  10. Other Barry

    Did that election not teach y’all that the dramatic rhetoric (calling everyone who doesn’t agree with you a murderer/racist/Satan) doesn’t work to change anyone’s mind about anything?

    • boatrocker

      If I had a cigarette lighter, a webcam, and the patience to mess with all that, why,
      I’d raise a lighter for OtherBarry’s comment.

  11. think critically

    Great letter, it is good to point out just how much some people enjoy exercising power over others. In my mind, it is a mental illness.

    “All the arguments to prove man’s superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.”

    “It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers, from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to distance ourselves from our own views, so that we can dispassionately search for prejudices among the beliefs and values we hold.”

    Peter Singer

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      That’s funny. I was just thinking that those who call animals someones and equals have some degree of mental illness.

  12. think critically

    Maybe this will help some of the meat-eaters understand why vegans compare animal slavery to human slavery. Everyone loves Paul Watson when it comes to his heroic work saving whales and dolphins and other marine wildlife, but when he talks about being kind to all animals, they ignore him.

    “If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the Civil War, don’t look at where you stand on slavery today. Look at where you stand on animal rights.” Captain Paul Watson, founder, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

    Those with open minds can learn more at http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-commentary/commentary/v.html

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