Kerry Haggard works in corporate communications by day and desperately tries to sleep at night, despite the best efforts of her sons, dogs and her conscience to prevent her from doing so. Thankfully, her husband has learned the hard way to let sleeping Kerrys lie… Follow her on Twitter @KerryHaggard
Daniel (aged four and a half) and I were chatting over breakfast yesterday morning. “Where does meat come from, Mommy?” he asked. “From animals,” I said, hoping that that would be the end of that train of thought. Not so. “But how do the animals make meat?” he persisted? “Do cows make chicken?”
“No – chickens make chicken, and cows make beef,” I said. “What about horses?” was the next question – and after confirming that we definitely don’t eat horse, I quickly changed the subject, desperate to postpone the moment when I have to tell my animal-loving little boy that we kill animals to eat them … that the kind animals don’t just donate chunks of their flesh for us to consume, before they move on to the next pasture.
But it got me thinking (and I know there are vegetarians and vegans out there who will snort and say “It took you THIS long?). As a South African brought up in a braaing culture, where meat has been my primary source of protein since I can remember, the whole notion of where it actually comes from has kind of been absorbed into my psyche. I make good decisions about the meat that I buy – grass-fed beef and free range chicken, for example, but the fact remains that living creatures have to die for me and my family to eat them. How do I explain this to my little boy, without him thinking that I’m a complete monster for sanctioning the mass slaughter of cows, sheep, pigs and chickens?
Law of the jungle perhaps – our teeth classify us as omnivores, so we are just following what nature has set us up to do, surely? Or is it time to convince my whole household (we are seven now, including Thandi, my domestic goddess and my father-in-law whose given name is Johannes), that it’s time to ditch their meat-loving heritage and become vegetarian?