This Christmas (Christ Myth, Mithras Day, Saturnalia, Solstice Celebration or whatever you like to call it) will you sit down to a meal that includes meat? Whether it is a meal of turkey, goose, beef, salmon, pork, venison or some other meat, maybe a combination of meats, will you say a grace or a prayer to whatever supreme being you believe in? Or none if you are an atheist?
This year, though, would you mind doing something else for me?
Would you mind just sitting still for a brief moment before you begin your feast and think of the animal that gave its life for your enjoyment? I say enjoyment because we all eat far more than we need at this time of year, don’t we? But would you spend a moment wondering how the animal lived its life, whether it enjoyed its own food, whether it was an alpha or a lesser member of the flock or herd? Was it bullied by others? Was it treated as a valued member or as an outcast or a freak? Ask yourself how the animal died. Did it know it was going to be killed? Was it afraid? Was it treated with respect?
I know I will sit down to enjoy a meal of turkey and all the trimmings with my daughter and her family. We will pull crackers and the house will be full of the laughter of their children, my grandchildren. In the evening I shall have a tea that probably includes ham sandwiches, possibly some turkey left over from their main meal. And at both meals I shall say a silent thank you to the animal(s) who gave their lives so that we might enjoy our meals.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating meat. I love it. I am not a vegetarian or vegan. Not that I have anything against anyone who disagrees with eating meat. I respect their right to eat what they like. Perhaps it is because I eat meat, however, that I try to respect the lives, and deaths, of the animals I consume.
Maybe, just maybe, if we all think about the animals we are eating at this time of year our thoughts will stay with us and we will think about animal welfare throughout the year ahead.
Whatever you decide, have a great time over the coming weeks and enjoy a wonderful meal, and I hope you are also able to enjoy the season and the feeling of happiness and contentment being with friends and family can bring.