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Ethics of killing? Doesn’t the nature of killing in and of itself make it unethical?

As an omnivore, I really don’t have a right to complain about killing animals while chomping down on my Big Mac. Many cultures who live in harmony with the natural world, such as Native American and other indigenous tribes, killed animals for food. One of my matron goddesses, Artemis, was a huntress. If you don’t want to or are not ready to completely fore go eating meat, there are ways to do it in a more ethical manner.

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Hunting wild life or fishing responsibly is one way of doing this. Starting your own free range farm is another. Not everyone lives in rural areas, but if you do, killing your own meat is the best way to know how an animal was raised or if it was allowed to roam freely in the wild. But even if you are killing your own meat, there is a right and wrong way of going about doing it. I will give my experience today that inspired me to blog about this as an example.

My brother trapped a raccoon in a live trap this morning (trapping is not a method I would recommend to begin with considering factors such as psychological trauma and dehydration). Supposedly it was the kind of trap that you could not release the animal from without killing it first, or risking having your fingers bitten off. I was heading outside to enjoy the beautiful summer solstice, when I saw him throwing a bucket of water on the trapped raccoon, saying “That will teach you to not hiss at me”. I demanded that he stop treating the raccoon that way. He left, and I moved the raccoon out of the sunlight and into the shade. He later returned with my father, who took a stick and started poking and prodding at the distressed animal. I yelled at him to stop torturing her, that if he was going to kill her, kill her quickly. Then my father told my brother to go grab a rope so he could tie it around the cage and throw it out in the pond so the raccoon would drown. Drowning an animal is neither quick nor painless! It’s torture! Then he recommended just letting her dehydrate til she dies. I told him if he wanted to kill her, shoot her. He didn’t even want to do that because it would “waste a bullet” (if you don’t want to “waste a bullet”, don’t even bother killing your own meat). I ended up sitting outside with the raccoon for the next three hours, moving us out of the sun when the shadows became too short to protect us, until my mother came home and told my father to go shoot her. I did not expect to spend the summer solstice protecting a raccoon from being taunted and tormented by her captors, but that’s what I ended up doing. Lesson learned from this? If you kill your own meat, kill it in the quickest, most painless method possible. Don’t waste it, and don’t take it for granted. A creature lost its life, be it plant or animal, so that you could sustain your own. Have respect for the beings who provide you with food. And please for the love of Dea, don’t kill something just to use its fur and throw the rest away, or taxidermy and mount its head up on your wall.

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If you aren’t killing your own meat, don’t think buying any old meat at the store makes you more ethical than the hunter just because you didn’t kill it yourself. Much of the meat you find in grocery stores is made from animals that were raised on factory farms, which are notorious for their lack of respect and mistreatment of animals. Here’s some tips for more ethical meat eating:

-If it’s possible, buy locally.

-Inform yourself on the meanings of food labels such as free range, cage free, etc. (These labels do not mean the animal was treated ethically, but it’s a good start).

-Advocate for tougher laws on treatment of animals raised and slaughtered for their meat.

-Reduce the amount of meat you consume.

Killing for food, be it plant or animal, is not unethical in and of itself. What is unethical is our arrogant, disrespectful attitudes toward the animals and toward the Earth.

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