I am twenty-five years old and I have never seen an animal being killed. As a result of this I have largely lived my life oblivious to the fact that every time I tuck into a nice chunk of meat, I am contributing to the death of yet another animal. Despite working in a butchery at the start of my travels, I still considered meat as an ingredient and did not attribute to it a cost of living. I had never held down a creature, watched it struggle as the knife met its throat, heard its last breathes, or felt the heart beat dim as life slowly faded. That was until last week.
While on the drive home after a long day’s farming, my host for the week, Milo, received a phone call. “Alex, how would you like to witness a goat harvest?” he asked. I paused to think for a moment. If I am going to eat meat, I must be ok with animals being killed for it. How else could I really understand the consequences of my lifestyle choices?
We arrived at Augustino Malisa’s (Tino’s) farm, where Mr. Goat was waiting. Tino would be slaughtering the goat as is custom in his homeland of Tanzania. Cut throat slaughter may seem inhumane but for many cultures it is an everyday part of life. I should emphasise at this point that Tino really loved and cared for this goat. You may or may not know that in the UK, when a dairy goat gives birth to male kids, they are frequently slaughtered at birth, as the cost of keeping them alive is too uneconomical. The option of raising billies for meat seems a slightly more ethical alternative. Just bear that in mind the next time you’re tucking into a goat’s cheese tart.
Heart pounding, I nervously approached the goat. I could’ve sworn he knew what was coming. The knife was placed to his throat, and before I knew it the slaughter was over. The experience, as unpleasant as it sounds, was an incredibly powerful moment and not one I’ll forget in a hurry. Nor will I forget the freshly grilled goat’s meat we enjoyed soon after. Not because of the taste, although the veal-like colour and delicate flavour was unlike any goat meat I’d eaten before, but because for the first time in my life I experienced a new emotion while eating. Honesty.