Why would someone want to kill their own meat?
There are perfectly edible animals at the supermarket that are already dead.
Did you know that the Facebook billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, spent 1 year only eating meat that he personally killed himself? Here is what he said about it:
“I think many people forget that a living being has to die for you to eat meat, so my goal revolves around not letting myself forget that and being thankful for what I have…. So far, this has been a good experience. I’m eating a lot healthier foods and I’ve learned a lot about sustainable farming and raising of animals. I started thinking about this last year when I had a pig roast at my house. A bunch of people told me that even though they loved eating pork, they really didn’t want to think about the fact that the pig used to be alive. That just seemed irresponsible to me. I don’t have an issue with anything people choose to eat, but I do think they should take responsibility and be thankful for what they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from.”
Not that I care if Mark Zuckerberg kills his own meat, I just thought he made some interesting observations.
Why Would Someone Want to Kill Their Own Meat?
I think the answer to this question is different for everybody who has butchered their own animals.
I thought I’d share our reasons for desiring to raise and butcher our own livestock.
#1 Reason we Kill our own meat – Knowledge & Sustainability
We want to know how to do it.
This is pretty elementary. If there ever was a crisis and our family ended up in a situation where we needed to be able to find, raise, kill and process our own meat out of necessity- we want to know how to do it.
We don’t live off our land 100%. Very few people can do this (think shoes, couches and pottery, etc). At the same time, we want to obtain as much of our food from our land as we can. By knowing how to raise & process our own meat, we can get a large chunk of our families needs met with our hands.
#2 Reason we Kill our own meat – It’s Healthier
We don’t have a “confine & feed corn” mentality. We don’t have a “raise them in a concrete building” mentality. Our animals are in pastures. They are in the sunshine. They have access to grass, hay, feed and glorious fresh air. All this freedom makes them an incredible superfood. It’s mind-blowing really. A cow who eats grass is actually a cancer-fighting, health food. A pig who is raised in the sunshine has lard full of vitamin D. There is study after of study comparing the meat of pastured animals to their confinement-raised, corn-fed counterparts & the stats are undeniable. Pasture raised meat is amazing.
Dairy products from grass-fed animals are also miracle foods. One of the reasons these foods are so remarkable is the CLA content. Not only does raw milk contain Omega-3 (good fat), vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta-carotene; it also contains high levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) the cancer fighting wonder-fat. (source)
What’s CLA? Go here to read all about it & how to get it in your diet.
#3 Reason we Kill our own meat – Taste
Not only are home-grown, pastured meats higher in the health department, I think they taste better. I’ll be completely honest here. Our beef is great, but it tastes like most beef. Our chicken is great, but it tastes like most chicken.
Pastured pork and lamb is NOTHING like the stuff from the grocery. My porkchops are like butter. You can cut them with a fork. Tender, marbled, juicy and rich. My ham steaks are out of this world. So tender you wouldn’t believe it was really pork. I don’t know if it’s the milk or the grass or the breed- but our pork can’t be beat.
Venison is another meat that tastes completely different when we process it here on our farm. I never could eat venison until DH learned how to process it himself. For whatever reason, the meat that came back in that brown paper bag was gamey, wild and strong. Gag. I hated it. You literally couldn’t stand to be in the kitchen while you cooked it. Terrible odor. Terrible taste. No thanks.
The venison that dies & is butchered on our farm is amazing. It’s tender. It’s mild. It tastes like beef. I don’t have to soak it in milk or eggs or salt water. It’s good.
#4 Reason we Kill our own meat – Happy Food (It’s a Happy Meal)
Not only do my animals happily live in the promised land where they are scratched, loved and cared for; many of them get to die here to.
There is something sweet and conclusive about my food living here and ending life here on our farm. We try to use the simplest, quickest methods that put the least amount of stress on the animal when killing. They typically don’t know what hit them. One minute they are here & then it’s over.
It’s important to me that our animals don’t suffer or go through massive anxiety before they are processed. This usually makes them more palatable, by the way.
#5 Reason we Kill our own meat – Cooking is Different
When you kill your own meat, cooking is different. There is a constant, sober gratefulness for that food. The meat is the centerpiece of the meal – a treasure. It is eaten and enjoyed with enthusiasm. None of it is wasted- not during the butchering or during the eating of it.
When I go to this much trouble to raise, butcher and prepare an animal, I am intentional and deliberate about using as much of the animal as possible. We have very little waste.
When I serve our home raised meat to my family it is respected. Every bite finds a place. There will be no scraps for the chickens. There will be no bits for the compost. If I went to this much trouble to get this food on the table, it is going into bodies. When a meal is finished I scoot around the dining room collecting any scraps, bones, fat or other bits and save them in zipper-top, storage bags in the freezer. When my collection is sufficient, I make a batch of bone broth.
#6 Reason we Kill our own meat – A Connection to My Food
I like being connected to my food. I think it’s good that my children know where food comes from. I think it makes us more grateful for the food we have when we play a part in it’s life & death.
The bottom line is that if we are going to live, something must die to be food for us. It’s true.
Those lettuce plants you are eating used to be alive. For us to live, something must die. It’s the circle of life, baby.
“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”
God gave us the animals to eat. If you don’t want to eat meat, I’m OK with that.
I want to eat meat, and I’m OK with that too. God gave the animals to me to eat. Yum.
#7 Reason we Kill our own meat – Sometimes We Don’t
I also wanted to take a minute and tell you that we don’t’ always kill our meat. There are times we take our pasture-raised animals to a processor. And I think this is fine too.
I try not to be legalistic about these homesteading things. I know there are strong opinions and lots of ways of doing things. My way is not necessarily the “right” way and certainly not the “only” way. There are as many thoughts and methods as there are people.
If you decide to raise an animal and take it to a friend or a processor to be butchered, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Why would I take an animal to a processor instead of doing it myself?
- Size. I do not want to quarter a 1000 pound cow.
- Time. We are a busy family with 4 children and a business. Our free time is limited. Sending some animals to be processed allows us to do other things.
- Desire. Just because someone wants to know HOW to butcher their own animals doesn’t mean they want to be the one to do it every time.
- Expertise. I have the most fabulous processor who I use for my pigs. I have used him for 4 years. He charges a reasonable flat fee per hog (this year it’s $175 per hog; it was $150 per hog). You get your pig processed any way you want, in as many shrink wrapped bags as you want, with as much sausage, cutlets, ground pork, patties, hams, steaks, roasts, brats, fat, bones, etc, etc, etc as you want. He makes all my hams, sausage, bacon and brats without nitrates or MSG. Not to mention his products are the best I’ve ever tasted. He’s been doing this for 41 years and he’s the bomb. I can’t compete with this man’s work & don’t want to. 🙂
I know many people have a hard time stomaching the thought of killing an animal they raised. It’s not an easy day, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing either.
Maybe I’m wrong.
What do you think? Do you want to kill your own meat?