Friday, 23 March 2007

Mad Cowboy...and I'm mad too!

Last night we watched Mad Cowboy:The Documentary, talk about not a good thing to watch when you already have a stuffed up head and a headache. Even though I left the room or turned away from the disturbing bits I still ended blubbering and giving myself an even worse headache. I would not recommend this for kids. It is, for me, just heartbreaking to watch. It is heartbreaking to see what we are doing to our land, our animals and even our people, with what our agriculture practices have become. Whenever I see something about the way animals are slaughtered I am just left thinking - how can people do it? I don't understand. I don't wish to make anyone defensive by saying that. I don't actually mean it in a particularly judging way, I just don't get it. I'm also not talking about people who raise and kill animals in a more humane way. What I am talking about is the way the majority of meat is raised in our continent and how people can do it. Literally! How do they go to a job everyday where that is what they do, day in and day out? I cannot fathom it. Do they just become numb to the atrocities? It makes me so sad to think that some people have to live doing that.

If you've not heard of Howard Lyman he is the ex-cattle rancher who was taken to court with Oprah Winfrey over their statements about how beef is raised. He has two books at our local library, Mad Cowboy and No More Bull. I've just requested that they purchase the documentary too ( if anyone is interested maybe you could also suggest it and they might be more likely to get it). And that's all I'm gonna say about that.


Nicola said...

Maybe it should be part of the highschool curriculum? We might get more people thinking of the consequences of their actions.

Mary-Sue said...

I've just been thinking SO much about this, and have you read Andrea's ( post on this very topic? I, too, think that if my children are going to eat meat, then they have to be willing to raise it themselves, name it, love it, thank it, and KNOW what it is they're eating. or rather WHO they're eating! I get SO much flack from family and others who think this is a barbaric way to think. I think this is the only humane way to live. Aaargh! I could go on and on. Thank you for this post. I will request the documentary too.

Katherine said...

As you know I just finished reading Mad Cowboy. If we weren't vegetarians before reading this, I'm sure we would've become so after the information Howard Lyman shares about factory farming. It is upsetting to find out the practices - from what is fed to the animals that end up on people's tables, to the flagrant disregard to the impact on Nature that these farming practices are having. It hurts to learn all this as I was raised on a farm. What Howard shares was not my experience - our animals were not treated in the ways he describes, so I was in the dark about the abuse that occurs when farms go the factory way... I am glad I read his book though. There's much information in there that people should know about the food they're buying and eating. We have had so many long family discussions about the material presented in this book that even my sons are talking about becoming vegans as a result.

Heather said...

Hi Mary-Sue and Katherine
Yes, it really is so disturbing K.- and I didn't even watch the really awful bits, but then I still am aware of what is going on, aren't I. Once you know what really happens you can never think of it in the same way again. What is that saying about if slaughter houses had windows then everyone would be vegetarian?
I have to say, Mary-Sue, that I am so grateful that I (and my boys) are able to eat happily and well without eating meat because I know, absolutely know,that I would never be able to raise and kill the animals myself. I totally see your point but I just know that I, personally, could never do it. I think that for those that choose to eat meat still, what you are talking about is the best option though and it is an important thing to teach to children.
It is funny what you said about the boys thinking about going vegan K because we just were having lunch and the boys and I were talking about it and agreed that next week we would start with a goal of a minimum 3 vegan meals a week. This will be quite easy for us(we often eat vegan anyway) but I think just verbalizing this goal and making it concrete will be useful for us. I guess the No Bull book has a bunch of recipes in it too K which might interest you knowing what a whiz you are in the kitchen. ;-)

Katherine said...

Oh goody! You know how I like recipes, Heather... and I actually follow them. Well, at least the first time I do.
In conjunction with Mary-Sue's comment, all the cattle we raised we knew as individual animals. We named them we knew which one was the offspring of each and so on for the whole herd. You know, we never ate any of the animals we raised. My dad said it was because we were building our herd (we started out with one heifer, which was mine for 4-H). Even after years had passed and we had several animals, we could not slaughter the ones we raised. Mom would buy meat at the grocery store. If she'd tried serving meat from any of the cattle we raised, I think we'd have boycotted the dinner table and my parents knew this. It wouldn't be thought of as eating beef for dinner, but that we were eating Sid. We did eat chickens that we raised, but we hated butchering day and would refuse to eat the birds for a long time after having to participate in such an experience. So, Mary-Sue, I think if you have your children participate in raising, caring and knowing the animals - they might not be keen on eating meat afterwards.

Samantha said...

I was also thinking of becoming vegan (great minds think alike!) but I could not bear to give up delicious honey... dairy was really easy for me to give up though.

I would love R & L to give up dairy as well, but I know they love cheese and yogurt and I don't want to buy heavily processed food like soy cheese. However, because I do most of the cooking and I don't use dairy, I notice we have been using way less. I guess it's a step in the right direction.

Mary-Sue said...

So many good points here! I'm definitely thinking a lot more about all this since reading this post and Andres's too.
My children know where almost all their meat comes from. We eat bison that comes from my brother's or their grandpa's ranch and they have seen the butchering process from start to finish. And they have eaten animals we've raised and named and felt very grateful about it. It's what works for us at this stage. I don't know what the future holds as their ideas and values change... But it's how I grew up, we grew all our own meat and my mum would never buy meat she didn't know where it came from, until we moved overseas and then we rarely ate meat at all. I can definitely see why some wouldn't eat meat they knew, but for us it's just the opposite.
Love reading this sort of thing as it sparks deep thought and such interesting conversations, here and elsewhere! thanks!