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> Do you not get cognitive dissonance from killing "your children"?

Well, first, they're not my children. I don't mean that flippantly, and it's a great question to ask, it's just that my answer is: my wife is my wife, my dogs are my dogs (and, yes, family), pigs are livestock...and chickens are sort of walking squawking vegetables. :)

I shouldn't joke about chickens tho. The first time I had to dispatch one it put a deep pall over the rest of the day. Taking a life, even of something with a brain the size of a peanut, is a big deal.

The first year on the farm my wife gave all of our goats names, played with them, took them on walks, etc. I cautioned her against it...but I also used their names. Slaughter was ... not fun. Still, I did it. A .22 to the brain, and they dropped like sacks of cement.

My wife ended up not wanting to eat goat, so I ate a fair bit of goat after that. ...and she learned never to name or play with the livestock.

When we started raising pigs, we had learned from our lesson. It also helped that several times pigs escaped from our farm and had to be chased around the block and herded back to the farm, which is a huge amount of work. That put the kibosh on overly warm feelings.

Still, pig slaughter again hit me hard. Sure, I gave the pigs freshly picked apples to eat, and even their last minutes of life were better than the best day of a factory farmed pig's life, but killing is killing.

The way you slaughter a pig is [ squeamish people, please stop reading ] shoot them in the forehead. This gives them a concussion and drops them, but does not kill them. You then roll the pig on its side or back and stick a 12+" knife into its chest until it scrapes the spine, then you pivot the knife to slice the aorta and other arteries.

The pig is still technically alive at this point, although it is insensate. Because of my ethics re animals, if I'm going to take a life, I want to use every last bit of the animal. This meant capturing the gallons of blood in a five gallon bucket.

This is the most visceral thing ( no pun intended ) that I have ever done. I don't want to oversell it and say that it's "spiritual", but there is absolutely no escaping the reality of exactly that you're doing and what's going on. The act of sliding a 12" knife deep into a living, breathing thing is irrevocable, undeniable, and challenging.

Eventually even the neurological echoes stop and the animal is still.

At that point the animal is 100% gone, and you can tell. It still *looks

Photo (again, not for the sqeamish):

https://goo.gl/photos/No2xyddwDMGfLn6f6

At this point you have to slice slots in the pigs rear angles, hook a gambrel through, and then lift it (tail up, head down). You then skin in, disembowel it, and skin it.

I had a dissociative event the first time I did this. I was elbows deep in a creature that was about 4 minutes from having been completely alive, and it was still 98.6 degrees (or whatever pigs runs at), and it was in that uncanny valley between "alive" and "foot". I was quite lucid, and eloquent, as I spoke to people around me, but I felt like I was doing something that was in an entirely different realm.

I realize that lots of people here probably hunt and killed deer when they were 10, or whatever, but this was the first large animal (larger than a goat) that I had ever killed.

Hunters often say things like "I respect the animal and feel a deep kinship with it and blah blah blah" and that's easy to hear and not really appreciate, but killing and processing a large animal really is a transformational event, and one that I'm glad I've had. There is no denying exactly what you're doing, and - to me, at least - this created or strengthened my commitment to (a) raise animals as ethically as I possibly can, (b) use every bit of them without waste.

I think that killing and eating animals is fundamental to who we are (and I don't mean "we've evolved incisors"; I mean "the rituals and process are encoded in our minds". The hand shapes the tool and the tool shapes the hand).

If anything, this belief that humans have a deep connection with raising animals makes my revulsion against factory farming even stronger.

Just as dog fighting isn't merely horrific in its own right, but extra horrific because it is a perversion of something good, factory farming takes something good and inherently human and replaces it with something cruel and inhumane. I see that as a perversion.

I hope this answered your question; I seem to have rambled a fair bit.




Thank you for writing this. If one is going to eat meat, this is how one should do it.

I myself would not do this, and therefore (and for a few other tangential reasons), I'm a vegetarian. But I fully respect how you're living. If you're going to be a carnivore, BE a carnivore. Don't be under any illusions to the contrary.

You talk about having a dissociative experience, but it sounds like, on the whole, you're having a far more associative experience than most people. When I see people casually munching on cheap store-bought ham sandwiches, having no particular concept of what they're eating or how it got there -- and who would in fact recoil in horror if confronted with that reality -- then it seems to me like they are the ones who are being fundamentally dissociative. Not you.

Anyhow, ramble ramble, but from a person with a very different approach to life: respect.


FWIW, even though I choose to live an omnivorous life, I have the highest respect for vegetarians.

I've met people who say "I enjoy meat, but I could never kill an animal".

Fuck you. You kill animals every day by eating meat; you're just too squeamish to face up to the ethics of what you're doing.

So, hats off to all the vegetarians out there. You reached an ethical conclusion and you do the hard work to live it. Mad respect.


I don't think he was using the word that way. I interpreted "dissociation" as the more clinical and formally defined psychological term for a mental state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociation_(psychology)


exactly


> The act of sliding a 12" knife deep into a living, breathing thing is irrevocable, undeniable, and challenging.

It's amazing what some people are willing to do for pleasure. I wish that everyone who consumed animal products had to do it your way. I couldn't do this, so I don't eat animal products. (Yet, I don't suffer a pleasure deficit or any other ill effects, but that's my personal experience.)


This was a beautiful answer. Thank you! :-)

(I especially liked the line "Just as dog fighting isn't merely horrific in its own right, but extra horrific because it is a perversion of something good, factory farming takes something good and inherently human and replaces it with something cruel and inhumane.")


> Because of my ethics re animals, if I'm going to take a life, I want to use every last bit of the animal.

If you're going by raw efficiency, you can hardly beat factory farming. Besides the minimization of inputs, even the feathers and shit of chickens are digested to their amino acid components and used for animal feed and fertilizer. There is the unspeakable cruelty aspect... but then, I've bought ridiculously expensive "free range" turkey from a hyperlocal organic poultry farm, but, judging from appearances, the barren, rather crowded turkey yard is a far cry from a cartoon happy-animal sleepy farm.

It's nice that you're privileged enough to run your own hobby farm, but even the most artisanal of commercial farms is a business and their animals are commodities. Many of the worst cases that organizations like Farm Sanctuary encounter are cases of neglect or bankruptcy in small family-run farms.


> Because of my ethics re animals, if I'm going to take a life, I want to use every last bit of the animal. This meant capturing the gallons of blood in a five gallon bucket.

I buy whole chickens and part them out myself, and I do use every bit of the chicken that comes in the package. The bones are used for stocks, skin gets rendered for fat, etc. So I like to think I (can?) get using every last bit of the animal.

But I'm curious, what use(s) does the blood have? I was of the impression that like the viscera, the blood is something that necessarily must be disposed -- it cannot safely be used. Is that not the case?


> I buy whole chickens and ... do use every bit of the chicken > But I'm curious, what use(s) does the blood have?

When I was a kid, my dad used to take me sometimes to a street vendor (this was in a small city in Malaysia, late 60s/early 70s) who ran his business from a bicycle. He had a small gas ring, a crate on the back of the bike with a couple of chickens in it, and some veggies and noodles.

My dad would order a meal and the guy would grab a chicken out of the box, wring its neck, drain the blood into a bucket, burn off the feathers, dismantle the chook and fry it up with mein and veggies. Yum!

But after handing us our food he would boil and eat the then congealed blood (and the other stuff we didn't eat). The food was great (especially since my mum did not approve) but I was always fascinated by this last step.

As I got older I appreciated that he had us pay for the meal and then still got a meal himself out of the deal.


Not the parent but I have some knowledge on this.

[Blood sausage][1] is made using pork blood. I have never tried it myself though. What I have tried is [Sanguinaccio][2] made in southern Italy. It's absolutely delicious. I imagine there are plenty of other recipes that use pork blood as an ingredient too.

[1](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_sausage)

[2](http://www.chicagonow.com/cooking-cop/2014/03/sanguinaccio-d...)


Yes. If you see that dive gallon bucket of blood in the photo? I made bood sausage with it.


There's Taiwanese-style pig blood cake (made with rice and fried); or Cantonese-style pig blood curd, which is nothing more than solidified pig's blood.


Black pudding (blood sausage) would be my pick, but there are also a lot of good Chinese recipes that include pork blood curd.

The only danger I am aware of--beyond the risks of eating pork products in general--is iron overdose, which means you have to ration your consumption appropriately.

The viscera may also be used, though not necessarily for food. Whatever cannot be eaten can likely be turned into glue, leather, fertilizer, string, etc.


Many cultures use most of the animal. For example, in Korea a popular dish is called Sundae (soon-day), basically a kind of pork blood sausage. It's often served with pig ears and snouts as a side dish to alcohol.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundae_(Korean_food)

Pig liver is a popular in dishes the world over: pate, various sausages, etc.

It's surprising how much of a pig is useful as food.


Where on earth did you get the idea that the viscera must be disposed or cannot be safely eaten?

Pig intestines, heart, lungs are all part of traditional cuisine. Even the kidneys and liver are "viscera," and those are completely mainstream organ meat. Brain is also eaten (head cheese).


Agreed.

Photo of making blood pudding

https://goo.gl/photos/fUkkcmUxLXmopAQf6

Photo of preparing the heart before marinating it in olive oil and spices, then grilling it.

https://goo.gl/photos/T4MQZDpyEDVLgy7o7

Photo of pressed, sliced, and fried pig ears as a side to a sausage sandwhich

https://goo.gl/photos/me1rguNxWKXrmNLQ9

Photo of head cheese

https://goo.gl/photos/kHpyoDWJRxvDgHxW9

Photo of dog enjoying pig spine

https://goo.gl/photos/Wwpf9npvyvoKiBQN8

I use absolutely everything (well, except for the intestines. Not worth my time or energy to wash the feces out and scrape the mucousal lining off).


Pig guts is actually the only porcine viscera I've eaten before. It's not bad at all. The prep does sound rather unpleasant and smelly, but it can't be worse than the butchering you've already done. I believe the colon is nastier than than the small intestine and less eaten. But then, in my high school bio class we were given a lab book for fetal pigs, and came to class and our crazy teacher had a fully-grown, fresh dead sow on the lab island for a group dissection. When we opened the abdominal cavity, the smell was so foul we just about vomited; teacher helpfully told us that the human abdomen smells the same during surgery. This was without having dissected the intestines.

Curious, what did you do with the lungs? That's one part that I think was commercially banned for human consumption in the USA in the '70s. Even if it wasn't, it's rarely sold fresh as I understand it does not keep well at all even under refrigeration. Pork lungs are used used in Fillipino (bopis, kilayin) and Cantonese cuisine; Europeans certainly use sheep and cow lungs (Greeks, French, Scottish; haggis, anyone), but I'm not aware of western recipes specifically calling for pork lungs.

Pork intestine, on the other hand, is ubiquitous.


"But I'm curious, what use(s) does the blood have? "

Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaszanka


| The hand shapes the tool and the tool shapes the hand

I really like that line a lot. I've used a similar phrase to describe the relation between the data you're generating and consuming and the code doing so.

Very eloquent, I'm going to have to remember that one.


This is probably the most rewarding and insightful thing I've read on HN in 5 years


Good answer, still makes no sense why you don't eat your dogs. It's hypocritical not to; pigs are smart and they respond to you like dogs do (if you let them of course). It's fine, many people do it and at least you look them straight in the eyes while most buy something in plastic 'which taste nice' and they don't have to think.


It isn't necessarily hypocritical.

For instance, someone might prefer the look of hair on dogs and the feed conversion ratio of swine and thus keep dogs to pet and swine to eat.


> My wife ended up not wanting to eat goat, so I ate a fair bit of goat after that. ...and she learned never to name or play with the livestock.

So treat the animals like objects to make it easier to kill them? That also works for humans:

https://www.amazon.com/Eternal-Treblinka-Treatment-Animals-H...

> I had a dissociative event the first time I did this.

Dissociation happens for a reason. Slaughterhouse workers get PTSD.

> I think that killing and eating animals is fundamental to who we are (and I don't mean "we've evolved incisors"; I mean "the rituals and process are encoded in our minds". The hand shapes the tool and the tool shapes the hand).

The same argument could have been made for cannibalism, but somehow we managed to get over that.


"The way you slaughter a pig is <...> shoot them in the forehead. This gives them a concussion and drops them, but does not kill them."

I'm not a farmer (though your lifestyle is a dream of mine), but couldn't you just use bigger caliber? I'm sure .45 would do the trick. Shooting and killing a pig instantly in one blow is one thing, but putting a knife through a still living creature.. that would be too much for me.


You don't want the pig to die instantly; you want it unconscious and unable to feel pain... but you want the heart still alive. The heart pumps blood which exsanguinates the animal after you slice it's aorta.

This allows you to collect the blood for some other use, and removes it from the veins and arteries in the muscle tissue.


Doesn't hanging a carcass with open veins drain enough blood?


No.


If you have to force yourself not to name and play animals to be able to kill them eventually, it is probably wrong to kill them.

Disclaimer: I am a vegetarian.


Some people might say that our instincts are often wrong. A lot of people use tricks to do something other than what their emotions are telling them. They get angry and contain it. They feel jealous that someone else is getting attention and ignore it. We tend to divide emotions into bad ones like that and good ones like empathy, but there's an argument to be made that the natural empathy we feel toward animals is wrong in some cases and should be suppressed. Taken to its extreme, we'd end up with a world where we tried to save everything, even every insect, and we'd end up with an unsustainable world or at best a planet-sized zoo where everything was controlled and coddled. Maybe the natural world, as messy and bloody as it is, is better than one in which every living thing is protected and loved. Maybe empathy is an emotion that was beneficial to our evolution as mammals but has grown out of control as we gained intelligence and the ability to see beyond our family and clan needs and we're better off slaughtering animals which we raise because at least they get to live better lives than any animal would live in the wild before that slaughter comes, making way for a new generation to be raised in a pastoral situation.

I'm only speaking in hypotheticals because I'm also a vegetarian and don't personally subscribe to that idea, but I think it's not necessarily cut and dry that avoiding killing for food is absolutely the right thing to do. Personally, I think the normalization of dominating animals is what led to a lot of bad behaviors toward humans like slavery and subjugation and that we would be better off cultivating more empathy rather than accepting the order of nature as we were born into it. There was a time before hunting and slaughtering, and I think there will be a time after it, and I think we will be better of once we have moved past it. But I also have to consider that I might be wrong.


>Taken to its extreme, we'd end up with a world where we tried to save everything, even every insect, and we'd end up with an unsustainable world or at best a planet-sized zoo where everything was controlled and coddled

We are in the middle of the largest extinction event in this planet's history, and it's our fault as a species. A major causative factor is our dependence on needless animal slaughter to get our jollies. I'd say we are at the opposite extreme to the one you hypothesize, and perhaps some extreme thinking to rectify this is needed. Don't let conciliation become collusion, even rhetorically.


This is true. Especially South American slash and burn of the rainforest for cattle grazing is a huge contribution. We're burning through our largest carbon sinks and also the most diverse ecosystem to raise meat. Switching to alternatives like lab-grown meat and vegetables would do more than anything to stop both climate change and species extinction. It's insane that we're dancing on the edge of the extermination of life on Earth because of flavor. I do think that it'a important to look at the other side though to understand why we're following these kinds of practices. There'a a lot of culture tied up with meat, and we won't be able to get past it unless we address the reasons for doing it on all levels.


>Taken to its extreme, we'd end up with a world where we tried to save everything, even every insect

That's a Nirvana Fallacy. I can only imagine you'd never try to apply the same reasoning to humans. That since it's wrong to cause harm to them, you're now responsible to ensuring that no harm of any kind comes to any human anywhere.


Humans also have to learn to swim, not fear fire, and many other things that our instincts say we shouldn't do.


Doesn't the same apply to plants?! I don't know about you, but I'm quite attached to my indoors plants... Obviously I won't eat them (I don't know any recipes involving orchids), but I'd be quite sad if they died.


I find it gets easier, the older I get. Right now we're bottle-feeding a hydrocephalic calf named "Georgie". He can't stand up for more than 30 seconds or walk in a straight line (and therefore would have died if left with his mother), but he will produce a fair amount of veal. Probably not enough to make up for the $3500 we could have gotten selling him as a young bull!


I just logged in for the first time in forever to say thanks for a really interesting and thought-provoking read.


We tried the gun, it didn't at all work that way for us -- we had a terrified pig running around with a hole in its forehead. Would you mind me picking your brain? Let me know your preferred method and I'll reply with my handle.

EDIT: just saw the email address on your first post.


Wow, that was an amazing read. Thank you for sharing!




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