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Eat what you want, but want what you eat

by Marie Johnson

As I write this, I’m anxiously waiting for a cow to finish calving. Writing makes me concentrate so I don’t continually worry until it’s time to go back and check the cow. My adrenaline now motivates me to tell of a recent social gathering where I was provoked to become philosophical.

I have some friends who are vegetarians, no big deal. They don’t judge me because I eat meat, and I respect their choices. But at this particular reception, a young lady, when offered roast beef or chicken as a entree, said, “No, thank you. I don’t eat meat.” OK. But, then she added, “I don’t think it’s right to kill animals to eat them. What gives us the right to take life for our own wishes? We are not better than animals. We are just animals, too, and they have as much right to live as we do. I think it’s wrong to eat meat.”

The right to eat meat? The right to kill animals? Have I ever mentioned fanaticism makes me intolerant? I could have been a good, silent guest at this soiree of fancily dressed people, but she asked, so I shared by views on the right to consume meat and other foods.

I put a lot of effort into raising good beef. (One I have to check in a few minutes.) I feel I have the right to eat it and so does anybody else, whether they took part in raising the animal or not, as long as they honor what the eat. Honor the sacrifices. Appreciate the honest work done and the giving. If any person with the ability to think consumes food without any realization of how it was created, well then, I agree with the young lady. Those people shouldn’t eat meat. They probably shouldn’t eat anything at all. If there is no consideration or appreciation for the animal’s or people’s sacrifice to create food, how does a person justify eating anything?

The fruits and vegetable on her plate represent sacrifice. Migrant workers travel state to state, country to country, picking and plant-

ing, to put cheap food on our plates. Their lives are not easy. Don’t they and their families suffer from poor wages, harsh working conditions and absences from the people they love? Are they respected? Honored? Is she aware of their sacrifice? Isn’t eating plants consumption of a once living thing? How did she get the right to take that life?

People have the right to eat simply because we are alive, have the ability to think, to do good deeds and create great things. Be aware, don’t judge! I accept vegetarians and ask they accept us meat eaters, considering our basic similarities.

Time’s up. I step out back to check on the cow with my binoculars. Magpies are behind her on the ground where she is laying. Not good. I run into the field. The calf is only two thirds out. Its hips locked in the cow. I slow down, drop the binoculars. Calmly talking, I walk behind the cow. She ungracefully stands, loudly bawling. The calf twitches. Shaking, I grab the slimy front legs with my bare hands, pulling slightly up. The calf slips out, back legs hit the ground. The cow turns around and starts licking her calf. I return to the house and finish this column.

– Marie Johnson is a Fredericksburg, Calif., resident and is married to Kent Neddenriep. They have two sons, Kyle, 10, and Bradley, 7. Her column, “Fence lines,” appears once a month.