I decided to educate myself more about the origin of the food that we eat. Starting with the most debated ingredient, animals. It is not the average person who knows what the cow or chickens’ conditions of living is. It’s nice to think about the lush meadowy life that we’d like to envision our cattle romping around in, but mostly its not like that, and mostly we don’t actually think about it. We don’t want to.
If given the choice, many people would choose a meat substitute over actual animal death – as long as it tasted and felt exactly the same as the meaty alternative. However, until the day where we are happy to have a cauliflower steak or soy burger we will continue to generate a demand for the farming of cows, chickens, sheep, game, ostrich, rabbit etc.
If that is our chosen condition, we should at least ensure that the animal we are responsible for raising and fueling our systems with is the best possible quality. These days ‘quality’ is measured by size and value for money, convenience and a designer shopping experience. However, surely it’s rather in our inherent human nature to wish goodwill for all, including our environment and the animals in it. Proper treatment of animals should be as natural to us as proper treatment of our loved ones (and all other people for that matter).
Andy Fenner owns Frankie Fenners’ Meat Market in Cape Town. A purveyor of ethically farmed meats in various forms, he supplies the absolute best quality of happy-life beef, poultry and soon, water buffalo. I spent a day out at one of the farms which embodies these principles, Elgin Ridge. We went to ‘meet’ the first Dexter cow to be coming to Andy’ shop – her name is Alice. Not an easy thing to do.
Even though we subscribe to the ethos of the cycle of life (animals eat each other and that is just the food chain) it doesn’t mean we have to use neglectful farming methods. Poorly-fed and stressed animals are biologically out of balance – ‘sick’ – and when we eat that we perpetuate the same state within us.
It doesn’t take much to change this system. Firstly, and most simply: eat less meat. There will be less demand and less need to cram the animals into poor, mass conditions. Farming beef alone consumes gargantuan amounts of water both for irrigating the crops that feed the cattle as well as consumption and the processing of the beef.
I have been a vegetarian many times on and off in my life. I sustain being a vegetarian rather than a vegan due to maintenance of the complex combination of vitamins and minerals needed in a vegan life. It is challenging and at times during this busy stressful life it is hard to get them all in and that can mean I would not be as healthy as I would like to be. Therefore I consume ethically-farmed and produced dairy and eggs to ensure proper nutrition.
Here is a rather scary table that shows more detail:
Here is a wonderful alternative from the Frys family vegetarian products: