I Didn’t Always Eat Meat

If ever there were a black sheep in the Marx family, I’m pretty sure I am it. I was raised in a slaughterhouse. I can trace my paternal lineage back 5 generations and all of them were butchers. My first job was in a slaughterhouse. Second in a packing plant. Third in a butcher shop. You get the picture.  Yet, I gave up meat for about 7 years much to the dismay of my family.
I swear that I didn’t stop eating meat because of my wife who had been a vegetarian since second grade. Nobody believes me. Anyway, I stopped eating meat about 10 years ago when I started questioning my diet and reading voraciously about food politics. Diet for a New America by John Robbins was the tipping point. At the time I didn’t really have access to sustainable, humane meat. So, I dropped meat from my diet.
Fast forward 10 years. February, 2013. I have been eating meat for a few years.  I’m fresh back from a trip to New Zealand where I spent two weeks touring the ranches, abbatoirs and offices that are responsible for our Silver Fern Grass-fed Angus beef and soon-to-be-imported Silere Alpine-origin Merino. My notebook repeatedly asks questions like “How can one challenge the ethics of eating meat when the meat is raised like this?”
Marketing terms like “free range” and “grass-fed” barely do it justice. On one ranch that I visited, there were 25,000 Merino roaming 100,000 open acres of alpine pasture. It was lambs doing what lambs do. Vast healthy pastures. Lots of wildlife. Shepherds and ranchers that genuinely care for their herds.
At the end of the trip, I still couldn’t think of an argument challenging the ethics of eating meat raised this way. Instead, I was repeatedly awestruck by the beauty of the land, the beauty of the animals and of the people who steward both. New Zealand meat production is the gold standard of sustainability, animal welfare and meat quality. Here’s some photos, because words cannot express.

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