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Beef, it’s what’s for dinner ... well, maybe not always

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CRYSTAL CLEAR

I started my weekend off with a burger and ended with a giant bowl of green beans. I’m entertaining the idea of being a part-time vegetarian after realizing what a giant hypocrite I am about meat.

Saturday morning I was tasked with attending the Kendall County junior livestock auction. My husband was gone hunting at the coast with my oldest daughter, so it was bring-your-daughter-to-work-day for my youngest.

We stopped at Whataburger in Boerne on the way out to the barn. A giant mistake on my part since I then had to try and jump out on to Highway 46 to get back on the interstate toward Comfort. I finally get what people are talking about with the “mess” there. Yikes.

I got my usual burger with mustard and no lettuce, and my little one enjoyed her patty as well. I gave no thought to my lunch choices until I was face to face with the big brown eyes in the barn.

Learning where my food comes from is not really a new concept for me. We’ve raised chickens for years, but I do remember several months of not being able to eat chicken when we got our first run of chicks. Even the last batch we got sent me semi-vegan because of our barred rock girl named Repecka.

Repecka was a beautiful black-and-white-speckled girl who was the coop mother. We had a small flock with just four birds, and all four had different personalities.

Big Poppy was a gorgeous red Easter-egger that disappointed us all when she laid brown eggs instead of green or blue ones. But we forgave her because Big Poppy was fairly pleasant. She was much nicer than Little Poppy, a mean little bantam chicken who we think was an Old English Duckwing. She was the sweetest little chick, but when she reached maturity and laid her first egg she became a hormonal moody monster that tried to cockfight me on more than one occasion.

Little Lucy was a bantam black-laced Wyandotte that looked like her parents were a chicken and a monarch butterfly. She was painfully shy, but very sweet once she got to know you.

And Repecka was mother hen of the coop. Even as a baby, Repecka showed maternal instinct, taking the bantam chicks up under her wing each night to keep them safe and warm.

She was a dog in a chicken’s body, and she’d run up the coop ladder for pets and snuggles when I brought them treats. Her favorites were strawberry tops and blueberries.

We never ate any of our girls even when they stopped laying, but I did find it impossible to prepare chicken for dinner.

Then this weekend as I wandered around the barn realizing that all these precious piggies, gentle lambs and soft-eyed bovine were all headed for the slaughterhouse, my dinner plans started to shift.

It’s not that I think it’s wrong to eat meat. But I realized that I’m just a total hypocrite about it. These animals were loved and cared for by kids who would shed tears as they said goodbye. If ever there was the right way to raise animals for food, this was it. Yet I was desperate to pack them all in my car and take them to freedom.

The burger I ate for lunch was most likely not from a cow with a name. The chicken tenders my daughter had surely came from a chicken caged in darkness for its entire life. Given the chance, would that chicken have liked strawberry tops, too?

I’ve been perfectly willing to eat animals that weren’t humanely raised, yet I have the nerve to be sad about these up for auction?

Then Sunday afternoon sealed the deal when my husband returned home with a bag of duck breasts and wings. I shrieked when he put them in the fridge. The thought of that bloody carcass next to my food made me want to hurl.

“It’s food. Where do you suggest I put it?” my husband questioned.

And he’s right. If I’m going to eat meat it’s much more honorable to go out and face the animal whose life I’m going to take. I might not get joy out of killing, but if I’m not willing to really acknowledge where my food comes from, then I’m the monster, not him.

I might not go full vegan for the rest of my life. But this weekend definitely made me appreciate the people who are honorable enough to raise or gather their own food.

So since the thought of sinking my teeth into something that once had the ability to smile at me is too much to handle,

I’ll settle for a bowl of green beans for now. It’s really all I can stomach.