That’s the question Megan posed to me. Great question, but where do you start with someone whose total exposure to farming is as a member of the PETA street team.( I didn’t know that detail at the time)
What would you and your friends like to ask a farmer? Okay admittedly kind of a cop-out question, but it’s where I went.
“What do you do with the calves, particularly the male ones?” I explained the process of raising a calf, all the way through the feedlot stage. That brought us to the first major point of disagreement. That being the slaughtering of animals for food. The set of beliefs that many of these young people operate under is that cows deserve a long life as much as we do. In fact Megan’s direct quote is “I don’t value the life of an animal over that of a human.”
One of the lines that I grew up with was this question. “Why don’t you name your cows? Answer, Because you don’t name your food, do you?” Our premise is that these animals are raised for food, and while we value their lives, both as a living creature as well as economically, they are in fact food. This new crop of activist/consumers haven’t been exposed to life and death the way many of us did growing up on the farm. They believe that death is something to be avoided at all costs.
To an extent, some of our experiences make us seem extremely callous about life and death. When I was growing up on the farm, cats were a renewable resource. They followed a boom and bust pattern of reproduction. While we didn’t abuse them, they were largely left to fend for themselves. When a calf died, it was a part of the life cycle, and we felt bad about it. But life went on. Values have changed. When Oprah calls her dogs, “her furry children”, and people are spending $10,000 on chemotherapy for their cat, yep it’s different. But by reaching out, usually in pretty small ways, to some of these young people, we can show them that we have a heart. A pretty big heart.