When we opened our farm up to the public, we had a bit of trepidation oh who would show up. Beer bellied BBQ guys? Health nuts? Atkins diet people? Soccer moms? Grand parents? Weston A. Price people? Liberals? Conservatives? Libertarians? What kind of people will walk through our door.
Several years later the answer has been, yes. We have them all. And they are all amazing people with their own interesting stories and varied backgrounds. And at the end of the day, if they are polite to my kids then we’re tickled to have them here, one and all.
But there is one group of people that we worried might show up. The one that caused the most questions from friends and peers. “What are you going to do is vegetarians/vegans show up?” I mean, we are a meat farm. While everyone here lives a very happy life, there is an end date on pretty much everything on the farm. And we don’t hide it, we celebrate it. What if protestors show up? It was, and is, one of our bigger concerns of running a public farm.
But here is the odd thing. We have lots of vegetarians and vegans as customers. And they are wonderful people. Some bring their non-vegetarian family for a visit. But more often, we get customers who are here because their doctor has sent them here. They’ve been vegetarian/vegan for 5,10,20 or more years and they now have major health problems that they are learning came from their diet. This isn’t my opinion, this is what they are telling me walking in the door. Morally, they are VERY unhappy about eating meat. But they are at a point that they HAVE to have protein to get any quality of life back. Their doctor has told them so, their now non-vegan research has told them so and usually once they introduced meat back into their diet, it was like turning on a light switch. The change was that quick. So the results are telling them so. But it’s still against everything they believe in.
You’d think this would be the part where the meat farmer, long maligned by the vegan/vegetarian movement, pokes them in the eye and says how right we meat eaters are and how wrong they are. After all, there is quite a forceful movement to try to make meat bad in the public eye. Why not exact a little righteous revenge? There are a couple of problems with that.
One, all I feel is sorrow for them when I hear of the health issues they are dealing with. They are chronic and life altering. They are, at this point usually, not going to completely go away either. The damage is not repairable. Yes, eating meat is making them feel much better but they’ll never be like they were before becoming vegetarian/vegan. Trust me, I’ve heard the stories first hand.
Two, one of my best friends is a vegetarian (Hi Jim!). I’ve learned as much from him as I have from anyone in my life. He’s an awesome person I’m blessed to know. And when I’m with him and we go out to eat, I eat the vegetarian meal. Not because he’s ever asked me to or expects me to, but because I like vegetables too. I’m a vegetarian myself. I just usually happen to have some meat on the plate to accompany my vegetables. Some of my favorite meals are the vegetable portion of the meal. So big deal, I’ll eat my veggies that day.
All this vegetarian thing had been rolling around in my mind because of all the people we meet here, it’s the vegetarians and vegans that have been the most unexpected. I hadn’t really crystalized this into a post or a real opinion. It’s just been floating around in the grey matter. And then I happened across this podcast, called Lierre Kieth on the vegetarian myth. It was produced back in 2012. I listened to it while driving to Siler City and back yesterday, taking our latest cow to the processor. Listening to Lierre was like having one of our customers standing in the store telling their story to me. One I’ve heard by now many times. Only this time, there is a book to go along with the story.
When we started having customers to the farm, I didn’t expect all these terrible stories. I also didn’t expect to see the sorrow in people’s eyes when they are forced by health to go against their morals and eat meat. I can see their struggle and it’s not fun to watch. I try to let them know how good of a life our animals have. To know that without customers, the animals would never have lived at all. We don’t breed pets.
We talk about how humane the last day is for an animal. How they are treated at the processor, etc. How animals are part of the nutrient cycling system designed by God as a perfect closed loop system. Anything to help them overcome years of propaganda saying that eating meat is evil, period. This change is akin to being a devout Christian and having to admit and profess that there is no God. It’s not easy. However there is only so much I can do in the few short minutes I have with them. So now, I can point them to this post and this podcast, and this book. I think Lierre did a good job of explaining the problems and pointing out her view of the solutions. It’s not a perfect argument and I don’t agree with everything she said but it’s worth a listen. And if this helps just one of our recovering vegetarians, then it was worth it.
Since this was a heavy post with lots of feelings and stuff (not what you expect from me) here is something to make you smile.