Shechting a goat at the Hazon Food Conference?


On the Friday night of last year’s Hazon Food Conference I said, “put your hands up if you eat meat – but would not do so if you had to kill it yourself.” And a good number of hands went up.

Then I said: “put your hands up if you’re vegetarian – but you would eat meat if you killed it yourself.” And a different group of hands went up. And after a brief pause, everyone laughed.

They laughed because the two responses revealed what a self-selected group we were – and how fascinating our different distinctions. The first group were essentially saying, “I do like eating meat – but I know the process of killing it is awful – it’s actually so awful that if I had to kill it myself, I just wouldn’t eat meat.”

The second group were essentially saying “I’m vegetarian because I hate everything about how animals are raised and killed in our industrial food economy. But if I actually took responsibility for killing an animal myself, I would feel I was acting with integrity, and in accordance with my beliefs – and therefore, in that instance, I potentially would eat meat.”

And my response, when the laughter died down, was to say “Great: next year we’re going to shecht (slaughter according to kosher law) an animal here at the Food Conference..”

And people went: “Oooohhhhhh..”

So now we’re planning the 2nd Annual Hazon Food Conference, and started to get into this. How do we do it? Is it legal? Where do we do it? Who does it? How do we get it certified as kosher?

The first thing we found out (and this surprised me): meat has to be hung up for a few days before you can eat it. So we couldn’t, for instance, shecht a goat on Friday afternoon and then eat it for Friday night dinner. (Or a lamb either, of course). The solution to that is: we’ll shecht two animals: one on Friday afternoon, and anyone who wants to see an animal being killed will be able to see that. But we’ll also shecht one a week before, and that’ll be the one we’ll eat on Friday night.

So that’s the current plan. We haven’t figured out the other details yet. Adam Berman, the Executive Director of The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center (where the Food Conference is held), told me that they’d already shechted one goat earlier in the year – but although it was a kosher animal, killed by a shochet in the appropriate manner, they couldn’t get it certified for the dining room.

Meantime: as we started discussing this with the Executive Committee Food Conference, we had at least one member say that he thought the idea was disgusting and didn’t want to go to the conference if we went through with it. But the whole point is precisely that it’s disgusting. If we do it, no-one who doesn’t want to see it will have to go. But those who do eat meat, and haven’t seen an animal killed, will have the opportunity to do so.

What do you think?!

(The picture in this post was taken at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center of Aitan Mizrahi with a lamb from a neighbor’s flock.)

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105 Responses to “Shechting a goat at the Hazon Food Conference?”

  1. Sarah Tuttle Says:

    What an excellent idea. As a vegetarian for a while now, I most likely would have raised my hand in answer to your second question. I’m still not sure I’d eat the meat (although slaughtering humanely and raising in a healthy/humane is important, the longer I’m a vegetarian the more I question the neccesity of taking a life to continue mine) but I think the distance that we put between ourselves and what we eat is in many ways dangerous and part of why many people make confusing or conflicted choices. I also think its interesting that one of the EC members thought it was disgusting. I would have loved to know what, exactly, they meant. Disgusting to watch an animal killed humanely? Disgusting to kill then eat an animal? Hmmm…

  2. Bob delGrosso Says:

    Hi Nigel I love the blog and the ethos it reflects. So please do not think that when I mention that the animal in the photo appears to be a sheep, that I’m attempting to do anything other than express concern that I either don’t know how to read or need to review the fundamentals of farm-animal nomenclature.

  3. Leah Koenig Says:

    Thanks for your kind words and for picking up on the typo Bob – the animal in the picture is indeed a lamb. The article has been changed to reflect it :)

  4. Gluten-Free Bay Says:

    Did you see this response to this post?

  5. Alan Says:

    Brilliant! The interplay of values among the vegetarians and omnivores is fascinating, and it sounds like the shechting will be a very educational experience for everyone involved. Also, I’m getting a little hungry. :)

  6. Jackie Topol Says:

    I personally find it very sad that not one but two animals will have to lose their life for people to take part in shechting. I hope that people will truly understand what it means to take away life after they take part in this act. I also hope that people will realize that the majority of the meat that they consume is killed in far less humane ways. Have you considered showing a video on kosher slaughtering? There are many videos out there- I remember watching one on how Empire chickens were killed when I was in 6th grade. I suggest this 1) because I don’t think we need to kill animals to learn about this process and 2) because clearly only a select few will be able to take part in the actual process of taking the knife to the throat of the animal while killing it, while the other people will just be onlookers similar to how they would be if they were watching this happen on a television screen. Maybe there are some people who feel that it would be more impactful to see this happen in front of them but I personally don’t see that much of a difference.
    Nigel, I would also like to suggest that you offer a discussion on how animal rights/vegetarianism intersects with Judaism. (I would be happy to lead this discussion.) I think it’s important for participants to feel comfortable in this conference and I think this would help create an open space for all viewpoints. If you would like to discuss this more via email please feel free to email me.

  7. Eric Says:

    I’ll have more to say on this in a future post, but here’s an excerpt from the Failed Messiah response reference above (editing for length and snottiness):

    Meat does not need to be be “hung up” for a few days before you can eat it. Think back to the Temple, Nigel, and the sacrifices offered there…Nowhere in [The Torah] is a command to “hang up” the meat for a few days before consumption. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

    So one must presume you mean to say that the animal you slaughter will taste better if the meat is aged for a few days before cooking. While this may be true – certainly aged steaks are preferred in the non-kosher world – it is by no means necessary or even critical. Most meat eaten today is not aged. It is slaughtered, processed and vacuum-sealed within a couple of hours and is then either immediately frozen or refrigerated. It is not aged.

    As for the problem mentioned later in the post, here is how to get your animal kosher certified:

    1. Ask the rabbi who certifies the conference center kitchen to recommend a shochet.
    2. Get a letter from the kosher certifying agency approving that shochet and permitting the use of the meat from that slaughter on a one-time basis. Make sure to point out that the slaughter is being done for Jewish educational purposes.
    3. Be prepared to pay to have a rabbi of the kosher certifying agency’s choice supervise the slaughter, bedika (checking the lungs), treibering (removal of forbidden fats, etc.), and koshering of the meat.
    4. Allot several hours pre-cooking for bedika, treibering, soaking, salting and related work.
    5. Have a back-up plan in case the animal is ruled non-kosher after slaughter.
    6. Have a plan for use of the animal’s hindquarters that does not include a Jew eating its meat.

    In other words, there is more to kosher slaughter than the act of slaughter itself. You must be prepared to do all that is necessary to make the animal’s meat kosher for use.

    If you can do all that, you should be able to shecht an animal for kosher consumption at your conference.

  8. Jeffrey Yoskowitz Says:

    I think that the schechting plans are right on. Nigel, so many Jews today interested in ethical consumption beyond the ancient kashrut laws are craving the opportunity to slaughter and participate in the process of slaughtering the meat one eats. Thanks for helping us get there. Watching a video is no substitute for participating in the act itself. I wish I could be at the conference.

    I would hope many vegetarians would be excited that so many meat eaters want to know where their meat comes from and want to be a part of the process rather than naively purchasing something packaged from the store. Perhaps if enough people felt the way the folks at Hazon and I do meat consumption would lessen and many people who cannot handle being a part of the slaughter process would go vegetarian. I think this is largely a great plan and I’m excited for all whose eating experiences will be enriched.

  9. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    I think that the “prejudice will outweigh the probative value” meaning that you will end up making a lot of vegetarians – there’s no such thing as pretty shechita – it’s bloody and gory at best if not downright nasty. Living on a farm involves a cycle of life, growth and death and a respect and awe for each of the stages and seasons. To perform a shechita for a group like that out of context will most likely be counterproductive (but perhaps you’ll end up the poster child for the jewish veggie group). I notice that many colleges now offer courses in Adult sexuality in the media (read watch pron movies for credit) v’dai l’chakima

  10. Michael Croland Says:

    My mom and I were seriously considering going to the conference. I’m not sure I wouldn’t go just because of this, but it sounds like she is appalled by this news and wants to boycott the conference. Apparently she’s not alone if even someone on the executive committee agrees!

    I agree with everything Jackie said above. If there’s educational value to watching shechita, then a video would be more than sufficient. There doesn’t seem to be any need to kill two animals just to accomplish that goal. I strongly agree that a discussion about vegetarianism in the Jewish tradition would help inform conference attendees and contribute to comprehensive education and discussion for the conference at large.

    I think Shmarya’s points on Failed Messiah should also be taken into consideration, including that there’s much more involved here than is apparently realized at this point. If the animal shechted was ruled nonkosher — which could happen for a variety of reasons and happens in about 4% of cases at one major kosher slaughterhouse, I know — would all this be for naught?

    I want to add that despite my criticism here, I think that Hazon has good intentions with this shechita demo and is a wonderful organization planning what will surely be a great conference overall. It’s just a shame that has to be overshadowed by one major point of contention.

  11. Sarah Tuttle Says:

    Wow. I think the comments (here and elsewhere) make it clear that this is such a sore point when it comes to food, one that I think people really skirt hard around.
    I think its particularly interesting that people are asking for the act to be replaced by a video. My husband and I were discussing it and at this point I think neither of us would choose to eat meat. If it were a conference of vegetarians, “hosting a slaughter” would obviously be an act of waste and perversity. Now maybe this is something you know from past conferences (I assume) – what is the food usually like? Do you serve meat? What percentage of your conference goers are vegan/vegetarian? It seems to me that plenty of people who are expressing disgust and threatening boycotts eat in places every day where there is meat, and I’m sure at least some of them would happily eat a meat dish placed in front of them. And look, we’re vegetarians, but I don’t leap up every time I see someone eating meat and yell “COW KILLER!”. Ok, maybe sometimes in my head. But seriously. Why are people so sensitive when acts of (sometimes neccesary) violence make the lives they lead possible? Oh. I guess that could be why…
    Anyway. When people eat meat, they are taking life. This seems fairly obvious. Taking life is a serious endeavor. If your lifestyle requires it, I think observing it at least once (in person, forget the discovery channel video, sorry) is good for your soul. When people who eat meat tell me all the ways they avoid being “grossed out” by blood or bits or anything that might even vaguely remind them where their food comes from? That’s when I have scorn. Some people eat meat with their eyes (and minds, and hearts) wide open. And that’s when I can respect their choice.

  12. J Hyman Says:

    Don’t slaughter the creatures, please.

    While I see Sarah’s point, the issues involving meat extend beyond the slaughtering of animals. There is the human factor as well: the treatment of slaughterhouse and meat processing plant workers and the conditions that they work in. If the idea is to get people to understand what is involved in the the production of meat, then what are the plans to demonstrate what happens to the animal after is is slaughtered? Will there be live action demonstrations of meat processing workers working in unsafe conditions with dangerous equipment? Will there be anything to demonstrate the high injury rate sustained by such workers? Probably not, right? If so, then the shechita demonstration will NOT give the attendees the full picture of what they must know and see in order to fully appreciate the meat that they consume.

    A video and a good documentary on meat processing workers would address these concerns.

    Again, don’t slaughter these creatures. Purchase them – as you are already planning to do, and then show them some mercy and send them to a good, reputable animal sanctuary where they can live out their lives. That is something that I would donate toward.

  13. Richard Schwartz Says:

    As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), and a long-time supporter of Hazon, I am appalled that an environmentally and socially-conscious group like Hazon would sponsor such an event. At a time when the world is rapidly appraching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming and other environmental threats, and when the UN FAO and other reports have documented that animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to these threats, Hazon could do a great kiddush Hashem by leading in efforts to make people aware that it is essential that there be a major shift towards plant-based diets. Rather than having such an event, how about hazon sponsoring a debate on “Should Jews be Vegetarians?” Perhaps Hazon can help end the Jewish community’s failure to consider that the production and consumption of animal products violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people. Much more might be said re this issue, but one final comment: Is this the way that rachmanim b’nei rachmanim (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors) should act?

  14. Nigel Savage Says:

    Thanks for all the comments thus far.
    Somewhat randomly:

    1/ I think a video’s interesting, but much less viscerally powerful than seeing something for oneself. The suggestion, however, raises the question of whether, if we shecht the animal, we should also film the process?

    2/ Michael – and others – the notion of “boycotting” the conference I find a little strange. We hope that people will come who are interested in the issues. Hazon’s mission is to foster a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, as a step towards a healthier and more sustainable world for all. I’m clear that not seeing something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. We haven’t yet announced a conference with an entirely vegan menu; unless and until we do, it’s germane to our topic to enable people to learn more about where their food comes from. Clearly if people don’t actually want to attend the shechting of an animal, they’re free to do so. But not attending seems a little extreme.

    3/ J Hyman- your point that this would let people see an animal being killed, but not give insight into industrial shechita – that’s true, and I accept that point. But the two things are worth separating. Just the act of seeing an animal killed, and then eating it – I think that that is a powerful thing to see, and appropriate for anyone who eats animals to see at least once.

    4/ Richard – I think your suggestion of a debate on “should Jews be vegetarians?” is a great one – you’re hereby invited to be one part of that debate, and we’ll find a suitable carnivore to oppose you. For the record: having people attend the shechting of a goat might win you more supporters than anything you might say…

    kol tuv


  15. Lionel Friedberg Says:

    The fact that this event is even being contemplated is, to say the very least, unnecessary, barbaric, shameful, unenlightened and utterly appalling! Where is Jewish sensitivity and compassion in all this noise and insanity? Are we so ravenous to feast on flesh and celebrate the archaic habit of killing animals to satisfy our taste buds that we turn our back on the deepest meanings of mercy, compassion and peace that are taught in the Torah? Enough of this nonsense! Go and watch a violent Bruce Willis movie and satisfy your bloodlust…. BUT LEAVE THE ANIMALS ALONE!

  16. Roberta Schiff Says:

    There is no such thing as “humnane slaughter” even if the kosher laws are all followed. Killing is bringing on suffering. And all food animals even those raised in “less inhumane” ways than factory farmed animals are denied their natural life span and many of their preferd behaviors and food.
    If Judaism is truly a religion of love, of kindness and of compassion then the focus should turn to consideration of saving as many of the ten billion slaughtered each year (Just in the USA) instead of killing even one more. Eating animal flesh contributes to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and other health problems. It,of course, increases animal cruelty and damages the earth. Much more water, electricity, transportation is used to produce meat than vegetables. Feeding grain to animals is a very wasteful way to produce food, we could easily end world hunger if 70% of the grain raised did not go for animal feed. Livestock is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than automobiles.
    A new film A Sacred Duty will soon be out that covers these issues. I hope you will help in arranging showings that reach as many people as possible.

  17. Maida W Genser Says:

    I cannot fathom why an environmentally conscious organization would want to experiment with animal slaughter. What is it supposed to prove?

    Besides being better for the environment, a vegetarian life style is also more humane.

  18. Michael Croland Says:

    In response to the original post, Nigel Savage’s response to my comment, and many other comments here, I just posted about this topic in great length on my blog:

    Here’s are my five summary points:

    * It must be taken into consideration that the meat from the shechted animals might be deemed treif, making all this be for naught and essentially meaning that these animals would have died for nothing.
    * The tremendous fear and suffering that a goat would experience by being shechted in front of a large, nervous crowd in a foreign environment must be taken into consideration in evaluating whether the shechita demo should take place.
    * Regardless of whether animals are shechted as part of it, the conference should include a discussion about vegetarianism and meat consumption in the Jewish tradition.
    * A video should be shown to educate conference attendees about shechita if the organizers are committed to showing what shechita entails.
    * It shouldn’t be seen as “extreme” if someone, like my mother and even at least one of the conference organizers, does not want to support a conference that actively promotes something that violates their ethical values.

  19. Rina Deych Says:

    According to the 400-page UN report “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than cars, buses, planes, and all forms of transportation combined. Frankly, this leaves me wondering how anyone who purports to be an environmentalist can still eat/promote meat. We, as Jews, should be in the forefront of the ethical and environmental movement. This necessarily includes switching to a plant-based diet. As for observation of shechita, it would be far more honest and accurate to watch the videos shot at Rubashkin’s Iowa, and (most recently) Nebraska plants. If, after viewing them, anyone can ever eat meat again, I’d have to wonder if anything can break through our willful ignorance, as a species.

  20. Leah Koenig Says:

    I’ve been reading with interest all of these comments – and, as a vegetarian, I have to agree that the thought of killing an animal is appaling. However, one of Hazon’s greatest merits as an organization is that it does not “bash people over the head” with any particular way to live – as a result, our programs include and engage people to the right and left politically and religiously, as well as vegetarians and meat eaters. And to the extent that we will do everything that we can to accomodate vegans/vegetarians at our Food Conference, but would probably not have an entirely vegan conference b/c we want to engage/not ostracize meat eaters – so do we think it’s important to have the schecting. If people are going to eat meat, then they should have the opportunity to witness and understand what that means and signifies. And if people aren’t going to eat meat and aren’t interested in the session, they do not have to attend. The small amount of meat served at the conference will be killed, just like the schected goat – and I think it’s important that people get the chance to fully understand what that means.

    I hate the thought of animal suffering – it’s a large part of why I don’t eat meat. However, I think it is the right thing to do for Hazon to schect an animal at the conference.

  21. Gluten-Free Bay Says:

    I, for one, would greatly value this experience in order to better understand what I am doing by eating meat and to hopefully learn a bit about what would be involved if I were to begin raising animals for food (which I am considering). I think anything that furthers peoples’ connections with their food and their awareness of the realities of food production is extremely important. As an ex-vegetarian I am very sensitive to the animal rights issues involved and think a debate about vegetarianism and Judaism would be an appropriate addition to the Hazon agenda for this conference, whether or not the shechita were to take place. But I can tell you that I know of a number of people who are looking forward to seeing shechita first-hand, all of whom know that it will be nothing like watching a video (I’m afraid only city people who’ve never been to a farm could possibly think that a video comes anywhere close! LOL…) I have watched videos and they gross me out but do not move me in any particular way. I feel strongly that getting back involved in the production of our own food is key to environmental and economic justice. This is one part of that.

  22. Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus Says:

    Great suggestion Nigel. I was considering something similar for a First Year Seminar
    on the Rituals of Dinner that I teach at Wheaton, inspired by Michael Pollan’s thoughtful
    reflections in the Omnivore
    s Dilemma on killing the chickens or wild boar he intended to eat.
    However, I decided against it, because I felt it would be unfair to impose that experience
    on students whose convictions prohibited them from killing animals. And there’s the crux of
    the impassioned dispute raised by the Nigel’s proposal – which to me me
    seems strikingly similar to the dividing line between “pro-choice” and “pro-life”
    positions in the public debate over abortion. If you think it’s wrong under any circumstance
    to take an animal’s life, as some of the vegetarians assert, of course there can be no such thing as “humane
    slaughtering.” On the other hand, those of us who eat meat implicitly concede that there
    can be legitimate grounds for killing animals. The question really posed by Nigel’s suggestion
    is how and what do Jewish vegetarians and meat-eaters eat at the same dinner table.
    In that case, there’s clearly an asymmetry, since we meat eaters can host or eat a veggie meal without compromising our principles,
    many vegetarians cannot in good conscience have meat slaughtered at a meal they host.

    So I think it’s fair to disgust me, a kosher meat-eater, with the process of shekhitah, but I don’t think it’s right
    to require Jewish vegetarians to kill (or condone killing) animals – as long as were trying to participate together in a single inclusive

  23. Naf Says:

    In this fascinating discussion about the ethics and propriety of shechting a goat at the food conference, there is something that hasn’t yet been said. We also have to consider how these animals have lived, and where they come from. These pasture raised male goats are the offspring of local organic dairying project. If you have a dairy, meat is a natural by-product of milk, cheese and yogurt production. It’s not practical, or environmental to keep and feed male goats through the winter. These goats are browsing on pasture land that isn’t fit for vegetable or crop production, but is perfect for feeding goats who can make nutritious, local, and sustainable meat and cheese. It’s about being honest with our food systems, from start to finish, in all of their cycles.

  24. Rabi Hillel Norry Says:

    killing an animal for the sake of a demonstration, or to satisfy a dark curiosity is wrong. you should have the strength of your convictions to know that shechitah, like any slaughter is a waste of sentient life, and a source of suffering for the animal. one does not need to see it live to know that it is cruel, just as one does not need to harm a human being to know that they will suffer from our harm.

    do we really have any doubt that animal slaughter is cruel and unnecessary? i fail to see the benefit of this exercise.

  25. Avi Says:

    People need to remember that meat will be served at the conference either way. Killing the goat does not result in an extra animal killed but merely replaces an animal killed at a plant with an animal killed in front of people on the premises. If the animal was going to be killed and thrown away then I would agree that it was cruel and barbaric, but as long as the animal is being eaten I see no problem in adding an educational component by letting people observe how that animal is killed.

  26. Evan Says:

    I think the argument has come down to two streams, and I don’t know there is going to be a resolution between them.

    1) “Meat is murder”. Under no circumstances (at least, none for food, pleasure, or curiosity) should an animal be killed by a person. Therefore, even IF the intention was to cause omnivores to question their practices, a live killing is unacceptable. Those who feel this way can be forgiven for choosing not to attend the conference, though, as made in a valid point, the sight of the schechting may create a great number of kosher “converts.”

    2) “Meat is OK – but I want to do so ethically.” This is NEVER going to reconcile with category 1, unless people are turned off by the in-the-flesh killing. For others, like myself, this will be an important, challenging, and perhaps uncomfortable. I already believe that eating meat is acceptable. I believe that it can – and should – be a process that involves the spirit, even if that evokes shamanistic practices. I would feel at home, were it possible in my lifestyle, raising, caring for, and ultimately killing and eating my own animals. I believe, as I suppose all meat-eaters do, that animals have rights, but are not on the same level as mankind.

    What’s the bottom line? Whether the conference organizers will say this or not, the schechting is not directed at the Group 1 folks. They may choose to boycott, or they may choose to watch with interest the thought process that occurs within the meat-eaters – while the meat-eaters watch the goat.

    Either way, whatever the vegetarians decide, the conference organizers should not be shocked – or upset. This is a valid choice for vegetarians to make.

  27. Michael Croland Says:

    Re Avi’s claim: “People need to remember that meat will be served at the conference either way.”
    * Yes, but there’s a difference between attending a conference where meat is served and attending a conference (and thus financially supporting) the practice of killing animals, an active demonstration of shechita that promotes and engages in the practice.

    Re Avi’s claim: “If the animal was going to be killed and thrown away then I would agree that it was cruel and barbaric …”
    * While the meat from the goat shechted at the conference won’t be thrown away, it won’t be eaten at the conference. (They’re killing another animal in advance for that purpose.) So one goat will be killed with no educational value for conferencegoers and one goat will be killed without having his or her meat feed conferencegoers.

    Re Rabbi Norry’s claim: “one does not need to see it live to know that it is cruel, just as one does not need to harm a human being to know that they will suffer from our harm.”
    * I probably wouldn’t make this analogy myself, but I think the principle behind it is worth considering.

  28. Anna Says:

    Avi — well said. We served meat at the food conference last year, and will most likely do so again this year. That meat needs to come from someplace — whether we’ve seen it or not. As for the 18% of greenhouse gasses etc. coming from meat — well, these animals might need to be driven about 2000 feet from where they are raised to where they are slaughtered. It’s our discomfort with meat eating, and our subsequent keeping it at a distance, that is enabling CAFOs and poop lagoons and inconceivable suffering. If we bring the food we eat, all of it, including our meat, into our range of sight — we’ll necessarily elevate the standards of living and dying, because we wont be able to live with ourselves any other way. I believe that this is at the heart of Hazon’s motivation to bring schita back into our vocabulary — 100 years ago, this was just part of your Friday morning ritual: take the chickens to be slaughtered, then cook dinner.

    So many of the world’s challenges are a result of our huge, global networks: the ingredients in my cereal, for example, coming from 3 different continents. To get back to a healthy and more sustainable world, we need to live on smaller footprints. Animals are often an essential part of organic agriculture; our goats here eat the food waste from the dining hall, which then becomes compost for our fields. If you choose not to eat meat, fine. But if you’re shipping in your soy protein from China, and there’s meat locally available, what kind of impact are you having on the world, socially & environmentally?

  29. Aliza Says:

    I think this is a great idea. I do have a friend that would only eat meat he had killed himself, and though he was interested in potentially observing the laws of Kashrut (he was Jewish but had not been brought up Kosher), but couldn’t because he wasn’t trained personally and therefore would have to violate one principle for another.

    I think this would be an important component of the conference for the growing interest in the availability of sustainable, humanely raised/killed kosher meat and poultry.

    I think the consideration of how this goat has lived its life is important, as well as potentially including some acknowledgement of the contrast between this slaughter and how most animals are slaughtered in our food system (i.e. recognizing all the other problems with occup. health and safety, manure lagoons, etc.)

    It’s rather provincial for anyone to reject the entire conference as a result of this potential “schechting,” unless folks are interested in living in a bubble removed from the actual meat-eating world we live in. I am saying this as someone who does not eat meat, but understands the important leverage of actions that affect larger numbers of people, rather than “saving” this particular animal, which will likely be purchased and slaughtered anyway. There are many explanations online (and in Barbara Kingsolver’s new book “Animal, Vegetable Miracle” illustrating the problems with the illusion that no animals should be killed, ever, including those that have been domesticated and raised for food. Many of these animals/breeds would not even exist and cannot survive on their own without humans raising them– as unsustainable as our system of factory farming and CAFOs is, raising these animals and not killing them is possibly even less sustainable and a larger threat to global hunger and the environment.

    Some Native American tribes have the tradition of singing songs when they are hunting to recognize the significance of killing one life to support another life, and taking seriously the responsibility they have to the animal they are killing for food. It might be valuable to have a discussion about the ethics of Jewish omnivory in conjunction with the shechting, looking at some of these ethical issues in historical/Rabbinic perspective, maybe also in conjunction with the aforementioned herbivore/omnivore debate.

  30. Stephen Mendelsohn Says:


    Not shechting these two animals may not save the particular animals, but it might save two other animals by lowering the demand for their meat. Regardless of whether we eat meat or not (I have not eaten meat for over 22 years and have been near-vegan for the last 2-1/2, making motzi on matza when battery-egg-laden challah is shared by others), I think we can all agree that our individual dietary choices do make a cosmic difference, and for instance, one person switching from battery-caged eggs to HFAC-certified eggs (or free range under equally stringent welfare guidelines) can make an important difference. Judaism asserts the importance of such “small” acts and their meaning. As Rabbi Irving Greenberg notes at, “I can’t change the whole world”, you can say. My answer to that is: You’re right, but you can personally change your world.”

    My vote would be not to shecht, but to have a robust exchange on the Jewish ethics of animal-based consumption, including photographs and video of shechita, which is already available on the internet. But I would also hope that the vegetarians/vegans posting here would not boycott the conference over this. There is a point to the notion that watching a shechita in real-time might gross out a few meat-eaters for life. Since the Torah makes a clear distinction as to the value of human versus animal life, and the act in question is technically mutar (permissible) even if b’dieved (less than ideal), engagement would seem to be the better course here.

    As I understand, the Torah contains several mitzvot which reflect a less than ideal course of action and are a reflection of accommodating human weakness. There were three in last week’s parsha, Ki Tetzei: eshet yefat to’ar (the captured female prisoner of war), divorce, and according to some, shluach ha-ken (shooing away the mother bird). Shechita (outside of the Beit ha-Mikdash) can be viewed in a similar vein, a permissible means of doing something not fully consistent with the larger ethic of ” … therefore, choose life (Dvarim 30:19).” On the other hand, tza’ar ba’alei chayim, causing needless suffering to animals while they are alive without an overriding need to do so, is a clear issur d’oraita (Torah prohibition). Clearly things like battery-caged egg production, foie gras, white veal, the throat-ripping at Rubashkin’s or the shackle-and-hoist shechita done in South America, Israel, and on some smaller animals here in the US (including one slaughterhouse just up the road from me in Stafford Springs, CT) should outrage all of us, vegetarians and ethical omnivores alike. There are likely other areas we should all agree on, beginning with the one that the unexamined diet is not worth eating.

    Finally, responding to Anna’s question above, please do not assume that “local” meat is more environmentally friendly than soy from China. Meat requires many more stages to produce than soy, including feeding the animals many times over in protein and calories than we get back. Add to that the sizeable methane and nitrous oxide emissions from farmed animals (CH4 and NOx are far more potent greenhouse gasses than CO2), and the scales may well tip in favor of imported soy, especially if it is transported by ship instead of airplane. I am hardly a fan of Chinese imports and agree it is better to source one’s soy domestically (although there are also strong arguments for buying ethically grown crops from poorer countries). Organic Valley soymilk and Sunrich edamame are from domestic soy; Silk claims on its website that most of its soy is domestic, with a small amount from China and elsewhere to ensure consistent supply. The issues are complex, but I tend to think the environmental harm done even by the most humane and sustainable animal agriculture tends to be underrated.

  31. Marni Says:

    I have spent days reading the blog postings regarding Nigel’s post. Pro-vegetarians and anti-carnivores seem to abound…and at times are at odds and others in agreement with each other.

    As a meat-eater, I have flirted with vegetarian tendencies for years. It started with my first ethics class at CU-Boulder where our professor required us to watch barbaric videos of slaughterhouses…and continued every time I would hear a vegetarian espouse the many, many good and reasonable reasons why eating meat may be the vilest and most inhumane concept they have considered.

    And yet, my meat-eating persisted (albeit in limited amounts)…primarily because I had never divorced myself from nature’s inevitable cycle that we are part of a food chain.

    So, now, to the question of the public shechting. My friend Shalom (who posted before), once asked me whether I would still eat meat if I were required to kill it myself. The answer, without a doubt…and under virtually all circumstances (except for the possibility of a life-or-death issue)…is no. I can’t fathom taking a knife to a throat and making the slice that ends the animal’s life. Nor, in any real way, would I want to consider being present for the experience. And it may seem short-sighted…and it may seem callous…but ultimately it is because I do not need to see something to feel that there has been a loss. I recognize, internalize, and can even feel proper remorse, that an animal has given its life for my sustenance…or more accurately, that someone else has taken a life for my sustenance.

    And here becomes my issue…It concerns me far more that we, as Jews who have come up with an intricate dance for slaughtering an animal, never ritualized in the form of a bracha(blessing), what it means to eat that animal. So much of our custom-based foods are filled to the brim with meat…cholent, brisket, chicken, lamb, turkey(shwarma)…and yet never do we take a moment to utter words that acknowledge that what we are about to eat was once alive itself. That in some way, we should place the gratitude not just on the Creator, but also on the animal which has been sacrificed for our satiation.

    So, as to the Food Conference…I have no problem with the shechting…because there are those who legitimately should have the opportunity to understand first-hand from where there food is coming-provided that the meat will be properly used and not wasted-whether deemed kosher or not. And, to a certain extent, I understand the need to be a part of the process-even as a bystander. But, in so doing, I still feel there is a gap, and also recognize that seeing one’s meat being shechted does not necessarily correlate to reconciling one’s decision to eat meat in a Jewish context.

  32. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    “It concerns me far more that we, as Jews who have come up with an intricate dance for slaughtering an animal, never ritualized in the form of a bracha(blessing), what it means to eat that animal. ”

    Marni – are we talking about the same religion? Judaism certainly has berachos not only before but after eating as well with kavanot on both ends designed to foster awareness of the kedusha (the intrinsic holiness) of elevating an otherwise animal act (eating) to a spritual undertaking wherein we can fulfill our purpose in this world. It’s the difference between us living to eat and us eating to live.
    Judaism is a religion of moderation – last weeks’s Torah portion actually discusses punishing a rebellious son for, among other things, excessive meat and wine consumption (in heavy duty quantities) – so one might think that taken to the extreme, one should swear off meat and wine – Yet the Nazirite who has sworn off wine must ultimately bring a sin offering for foregoing the pleasure that wine affords. So the bottom line seems to be that there is a path of moderation and certainly within that moderation is the ability to realize that all the food we are allowed to eat can be consecrated and elevated, consecrating and elevating us at the same time.
    For the record – while I eat meat (in small quantities for health and environmental reasons) I do not feel that the shechting demonstration will accomplish what it purports to do – everything has a time and place and that’s neither the time nor the place. I’m somewhat surprised at the vegetarians with their threats of boycotts – the conference and Hazon have never been purely vegetarian but merely acommodating their needs – if the shechita does take place, they are certainly free not to watch/participate but I find it curious that they would try to use this instance to try to step on the inclusivity for which Hazon prides itself – imagine if a fellow Chareidi said that there should only be a mechitza halachic minyan – I imagine there’d be quite an outcry

  33. chillul Who? Says:

    Marni you make (what I think is) an important and fascinating point.

    Whatever someone’s take on why we say brachot — whether Rav Shmuel’s “making the physical kadosh” or the just-as-classic explanation that “eating without a bracha is like taking God’s belongings without asking first” — none of the brachot we say bring to mind the losses inherent in our gustatory gain.

    In fact, the most blatantly exploitative* & most varied forms of food are all lumped together under Shehakol’s “God created everything” bracha, along with simple inorganic water. Grains, plants, and their derivatives on the other hand, are split among multiple specific blessings, with bread being ‘honored’ most of all with the most specific bracha, as well requiring the full after-blessing.

    And yet, as you point out, none of these brachot (which wonderfully epitomize the ethic of Hakarat-Hatov/gratitude injoined in the Torah’s statement “When you have eaten and been sated, you will bless God”,) direct the eater to reflect upon who or what lost so that the person at dinner could gain.

    I don’t know if the common assertion that Native American hunters would thank & ask forgiveness from their prey while hunting for food is accurate, but the fact that it continues to be re-told means that it strikes a nerve, at least in some of us.

    So what now? Are there Jewish writings, practices or liturgies out there that stress the feeling we think is missing, which could be adopted/kept in mind/referenced to remind us at meal time that everything comes with trade-offs, and that God’s world (which nourishes us so well) can be diminished by our choices of how to use it?

    I dunno. My brain is tired today. But I think it’s something worthwhile to pursue. Thanks Marni!

    *When I say “exploitative” I mean two things: that the processes necesary to replenish the food being harvested are more complicated/expensive (breeding new animals and supporting their growth until slaughter, for instance), and that the uniqueness lost to the world by harvesting them is clearer (i.e. the death of animals with varying levels of intelligence, empathy, and personality not possessed by plants).

  34. Pauline Yearwood Says:

    I recently found out about your plan to schecht a goat from Richard Schwartz of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, on whose advisory board I serve. I am appalled! I don’t know that I can find words to express how angry I am when I think about your plan. To think that you would kill an innocent animal (or two!) to “help” people become vegetarians is unconscionable. Don’t you realize that veg*ism is all about compassion and about not bending the will of other creatures to our own? That is exactly what you are doing here. Why should a goat, whose life (I believe) is just as valuable as yours or mine, be sacrificed for you to prove a point? Killing a dog for food, as is done in some Asian countries, is disgusting too. Would you do that? No? Then how is a goat so different? The worst thing about it is, to me, that there is a compassionte solution readily at hand: If people are so eager to watch an animal being killed, let them watch it on video.

  35. Michael Croland Says:

    There’s some misinformation that needs to be addressed. Sarah spoke of “plenty of people … threatening boycotts.” Rabbi Shmuel said, “I’m somewhat surprised at the vegetarians with their threats of boycotts.” Others have mentioned similar things.

    To the best of my knowledge, nobody has called for a mass boycott of the Hazon conference. The closest thing I can recall is my comment that my mother wanted to personally boycott the conference, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for individuals not to attend — that’s a personal decision that should be respected.

    Since my comment about my mother’s opinion seems to be the closest thing to a call for a boycott, I also want to address Rabbi Shmuel’s comment that “I find it curious that [the vegetarians who are suppoedly threatening a boycott] would try to use this instance to try to step on the inclusivity for which Hazon prides itself.” I don’t think anybody is saying that Hazon isn’t a very inclusive group, and I refer back to the preface of the post I linked to on Thursday:

    “I preface this post by saying that I’m a big fan of Hazon. I think Hazon is a wonderful organization, and I think the conference it’s planning is sure to be wonderful. My comments should not be taken as criticism of Hazon or the Hazon Food Conference in general”

    (I included a similar disclaimer in my original comment.)

    I hope this clears up any confusion. On with the [respectful] debate!

  36. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    Chilul Who – firstly, like the Native American, the shochet does in fact make not one but 2 berachos – one over the shechita and the second by kisui hadam – the covering of the blood – both serve to elevate the act of taking a life which is done with solemnity and reverence and in a respectful fashion

    “In fact, the most blatantly exploitative* & most varied forms of food are all lumped together under Shehakol’s “God created everything” bracha, along with simple inorganic water. Grains, plants, and their derivatives on the other hand, are split among multiple specific blessings, with bread being ‘honored’ most of all with the most specific bracha, as well requiring the full after-blessing.”

    Actually, I could make the argument that the opposite is true – by the time someone has consumed a piece of meat it has had 3 (or possibly 4) berachos made over it, making it a clear winner in the bracha bee:) The Talmud has a similar conversation on whether certain foods keep their beracha once they are cooked or are they “downgraded” (my term) to a shehakol – the talmud concludes by saying that their argument is based on whether the changing of the form of the food (chopping, cooking) is considered an improvement or not -

  37. Marni Says:

    Rabbi Shmuel-While I am aware, and take part in, many of the brachot that are said before and after a meal, I cannot help but feel that they are insufficient when none of them directly requires me to acknowledge the animal’s loss of life inherent in my act of eating the meat (which I feel is distinctly different than eating a piece of fruit or lettuce leaves).

    Perhaps my feeling comes from having had cows roam in my front yard growing up…but the appreciation I have for the animal’s life, that by my act of eating meat I have taken, does not feel sufficiently accounted for under the broader brachot that we say, no matter how many of them there are.

    Whether or not I choose to believe that by my making a bracha I am “elevating” the moment, there is a certain gratefulness I feel is lacking when I do not directly speak to the fact that the “it” I am eating once contained a life force and sentience of its own. And while I understand that there are two brachot that are said at the time of shechting the animal – when most of the meat that I eat is so far removed from this process – I personally do not feel that these brachot should absolve me of the need to acknowledge my hand in choosing to eat that which was once alive.

  38. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    Marni – I turned 50 this week B”H and I find that as I get older, I try less to make Judaism more meaningful to my life than to make my life more meaningful to Judaism. I’m hardly from the school of “create your own midrash” or “develop your own meaningful ritual” but even within normative Torah Judaism there’s no reason why you can’t embody that sense of hakoras hatov – that recognition of kindness – in your daily life and ritual practice. The Baal Shem Tov used to ask strangers at random how they were doing just to get them to respond “baruch Hashem – thank G-d” Baruch Hashem you retain that connection to where your food comes from and lament the loss of closeness. I too raised cattle on our farm in VT (Scottish Highland with loooong horns – the irony of finally getting gored by an ox was not wasted on me!) I believe (and correct me if I’m wrong Nigel) that it is precisely that disconnect from the source of our food that prompted Hazon to explore the shechita deal and bridge the gap – both geographical and spiritual, nay metaphysical between where we are and what we eat. I hope to get to meet you at the food conference and take the discussion further at the shabbos table.

  39. chillul Who? Says:

    haRav Shmuel,

    I believe that the reason that Marni (and myself?) find(s) your answer unsatisfying is because the brachot over shechitah over eating, while addressing many other concepts, don’t actually address the topics we’ve raised.

    For isntance:

    “Baruch ata ado-nai elo-heinu melech haolam asher kideshanu bemitsvotav vetsivanu al hashechitah”

    “Baruch ata ado-nai elo-heinu melech haolam shehakol nihiyeh bidvaro”

    These brachot mention:
    - God as sovereign
    - The yoke of the mitsvot
    - The sanctification of Israel through mitsvot
    - Shechitah is a mitsva
    - God as creator of all [including our food]

    That’s a lot of God-talk, and a lot of Us-talk. Who we are, who God is, what we’re doing, How God makes rules for what we do, etc.

    But there’s no mention of anything connected to the cows & chickens & eggs & goats themselves, or of the trade-offs involved in our consumption.

    To draft the language of philosophers I haven’t learned, when it comes to food in a religious Jewish context, people and God have an “I-Thou” relationship. People and food are “I-It”. The blessings don’t recognize the unique values of the lives we take for our nourishment. From a textual standpoint, there’s no difference in thanking God for providing us with H2O and for providing us with Bessie the Cow, who unlike Poland Spring is also a real participant in the process. The references are all Us-God Us-God, not Us-God-Food.

  40. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    Chilul who (do you have a name? I’m Shmuel) I understood your & Marni’s discomfort several posts ago and I was not trying to be unresponsive, merely diplomatic.
    Since you seem to have some learning, I’m sure you are familiar with a concept in gemara called “chisurei mechsara” – a deficiency exists. Young buck scholars are quick to proclaim “the text is deficient” and I even recall Rabbi Steve’s conclusion at his d’var Torah last year “the mishneh is wrong,,,yisgadal…” wereas after one learns for many years and appreciates the greatness involved in the text one wistfully looks at a text and says “chisurei mechsara” woe to us for we are deficient – surely Beis Hillel and Beis Shammi knew what it meant – it’s us who are deficient….
    I am simply a rav and a farmer – I see no need nor have any authority to rewrite the Torah to suit my liking – perhaps some of my eco-theologian colleagues would be in a better position to guide you into areas where you wouldn’t feel what you perceive to be a liturgical deficiency. I note that at the bike ride there will be a seminar on blessings which offers “Whether you’ve grown up saying traditiopnal Hebrew food brachot, like to make up your own . . . etc.etc.) perhaps your radical disappointment can be transformed into radical amazement (my attempt at drafting the language of philosophers I haven’t learned – great suggestion! wait a minute – I have read Heschel and Buber oh well:))
    hatzlacha with your journey

  41. chillul Who? Says:

    Hi Shmuel,

    My name is Alan/Avraham. I only picked a fancy blog-name for myself this week, after sporadically commenting on a bunch of different blogs, under various handles, for a while (including under my own name..I’m also comment #5 above).

    I think I would have preferred your newest “undiplomatic” post first, instead of the talking across each other that the three of us seem to have been doing here. You don’t have to worry, I’m not offended at all by the assertion that in cases like this it’s over-enthusiastic folks, and not the texts, which are deficient. That’s a fine, traditional viewpoint. While I disagree (I think that it’s a good thing for each person/community/era to personalize their observances and put their own unique stamp on them) I *am* traditional enough in background & outlook that writing new brachot isn’t something I feel I have the authority to do.

    However, when it comes to kavanot or other meditations/prayers that weren’t standardized by Chazal, I am comfortable suggesting that we might benefit by adding something new. For a parallel example, I appreciate how the standard Tefila Lishloma Shel Malchut used today in the Conservative movement was written to include the mention of ideals held by citizens of democracies, which weren’t present in older forms of the tefilla as composed under totalitarian czars and kings. And for a more Orthodox example, how about all the zemirot for Shabbos with their different themes and outlooks on Oneg Shabbat? Dunash ben Labrat, Ibn Ezra, etc were expressing their own takes on Shabbos, which apparently couldn’t be adequately expressed by what had been written & standardized beforehand.

    But anyway, I’m not here to convince you I’m right. I just want us to understand where each other is all coming from, which I think we finally do? :)

    Hatslacha to you as well! Especially with the holy work of farming!

  42. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    Alan/Avraham (is the dagesh on the Alan or the Avraham?:)
    great post and I hope you’ll come “farbreng” with Marni and me at the food conference(Marni – you will be there won’t you?) – I must warn you that I believe in diversity of species so the Islays must come from Islay, the Highlands must come from the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. . . (v’hamavin yavin)

    Last week we had a young couple for shabbos and we sat at the shabbos table until late at night leaning, singing and farbrenging. While we were discussing the verse “ki haadam etz hasadeh – is a tree of the field a man?” we felt the ground shake – we ran outside to see that a huge oak fell down, nearly taking out my truck – just kissing it – B”H we will be warm this winter w/o having to go far for wood

    BTW halevai that I should write poetry like Dunesh ibn Labrat (or Menachem ibn Saruk) – he was able to plug his spiritual telecaster into the amp of divine vibrations – even now – 1000 plus years later, the reverberations below and above continue. . . .

  43. Sharon Lebewohl Says:

    I had mixed feelings when I first heard about this, but now I feel that this is something that we should absolutely do. I understand that many people feel that this is ethically and morally wrong, and I respect their opinions. There were quite a few things at last year’s conference that I didn’t feel comfortable with religiously, and I didn’t attend those sessions. But I understood that not everybody shared my opinion, and that’s OK. Many of those participating in the conference may decide to become vegetarians after witnessing the shecting of a goat, and others may not want to bear witness to this event. However, this is educational and those who eat meat may learn to respect animals in a different way. I think that those who choose to ban the conference will lose out on a lot. We may not all have the same opinions, but we can all learn from each other. I have a lot of respect for those who feel that shecting an animal is wrong, but to ban the entire conference will cause everyone to lose out.

  44. David Wolfe Says:

    I am the Hazon Board member who will not attend the Food Conference if the shechting takes place. I was also the co-chair of last year’s (the first) Hazon Food Conference and have been a big supporter of our “food work” from the outset.

    The problem is this…

    The conference is intended to bring together people with an interest in food to discuss contemporary Jewish food issues. I feel that this entire issue will overshadow the conference. As an attendee, whether you choose to watch or not, the conversation will be dominated by the rights and wrongs of performing the act at the conference and not the rights and wrongs of the act itself. We all know that an animal is killed in order for us to eat meat. We all know what the act of shechting involves. We don’t need to set up an audience to witness the act in order to discuss its merits or otherwise.

    But none of this is why my wife and I will not attend the conference. We simply don’t want to be at a conference where an animal is being killed. Whether we eat meat or not is immaterial. There are many things I’d like to witness in my life. Many things I’d like to learn more about. This is not one of them. It would not offend me to offer non-kosher meat as an option so that people who are interested can see what it tastes like. You could argue that such an option would be a contemporary Jewish food issue but it’s not an educational issue on which there are two opposing points of view. Interesting and offensive are not on the same opinion continuum.

    I have no objection to Hazon setting up a completely separate shechting event that those interested can attend. I won’t be one of them. There is just absolutely no need to include an event at the conference which actually offends people.

    Interestingly (I think), my family does not hold extreme views on the subject of food (unless we’re talking about some incredible chocolate desert!!). My wife is kosher. My children and I are not. We all eat some meat and lots of fish. Like most of the US population, we would prefer that our choices in life are good for the world, but the environment, sustainability and socially responsible supply chains are not top of mind when we make our daily choices. We have no pets. We are not “animal lovers”. We are just a normal family trying to play our small part in improving the environment. However, we all hate seeing anything killed. It’s not related to our food choices. We just don’t like it.

    I’m in the TV production industry and I attend many educational events in my industry. Every time I watch a movie or a TV show, I learn. But I dislike horror movies. Even though, I know how the special effects are created, I just have no interest in spending my time being scared. I don’t object to others watching horror movies and I don’t participate in the debate about whether horror movies are causing increased violence in the world. I feel similarly about the whole idea of shechting an animal at the Hazon Food Conference. It will simply become a conference that loses its appeal to my family and me so we won’t attend.

    As a Board member, I would suggest that I am not alone in my views and that perhaps shechting an animal is for another time and another place within the world of Hazon. Although we tackle controversial subjects at Hazon, our adversaries are normally people who are not Hazon supporters. I think we can participate in the kosher debate without alienating some of our strongest supporters by hosting a ritual slaughtering of an animal at a broad based food conference.

  45. Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus Says:

    Alan/Avraham (alias Chillul who?), picking up points Marni raised, asked “Are there Jewish writings, practices or liturgies out there that stress the feeling we think is missing, which could be adopted/kept in mind/referenced to remind us at meal time that everything comes with trade-offs, and that God’s world (which nourishes us so well) can be diminished by our choices of how to use it?”

    Here’s one tradition, a story that the famous 13th century Spanish kabbalist R. Joseph Gikatilla tells in his book Sha’are Orah. It suggest some awareness or even a sort of sensitivity about the trade-off, the moral cost of eating animals. He asks,

    Why did the Lord (may He be blessed) command in the Torah the slaughter of animals for human beings to eat? For is it not written, ‘The Lord is good to all, and His mercy extends to all His works”[Ps 145:9]? And if He acts mercifully, why did He command that beasts be slaughtered for human beings to eat – where is the mercy in that? But the secret is in the beginning of the verse, which said, ‘the Lord is good to all,’ good in fact, and accordingly ‘His mercy extends to all his works.’
    At the time of the creation of the world, an agreement was reached with the cow – to be slaughtered, and she said, ‘Good.’ And what was her reason? Since the cow had no higher soul to conceive of the work of HaShem and His powers, the Lord (may He be blessed), when He was creating the world, told all the beasts to stand before Him, and He said, ‘If you consent to be slaughtered, and to have human beings eat you, then you will ascend from the status of a beast that knows nothing to the status of a human being who knows and recognizes the Lord (may He be blessed).’ And the beasts replied, ‘Good. His mercies are on us.’ Whenever a human being eats parts of a beast, it turns into a part of the human being. Here the beast is transformed into a person, and her slaughter is an act of mercy, for she leaves the torah of beasts and enters into the torah of human beings. Death is life for it, in that it ascends to the degree of angels – and this is the secret of ‘Man and beast the Lord will save.’ [Ps 36:8]
    If you really reflect on the secret of slaughtering animals, then everything comes from the side of His mercy and love for all His creatures. And thus reflect on the reason why our rabbis said in tractate Pesahim of the Talmud, ‘It is forbidden for an am haaretz [a person ignorant of Torah learning] to eat meat.’ For it was not commanded in the Torah to slaughter a beast unless one knows the ‘torah of beasts, wild animals, and fowl.’ And whoever engages in Torah is permitted to eat meat. Thus an am haaretz does not eat meat because he is like a beast without a soul, and he is not commanded to slaughter a beast only so that another ‘beast’ can eat it, but rather, if so, it [the beast] becomes like carrion and prey [i.e., of a lower, 'unfit' status].

    While at first sight, this seems just a very self-serving argument of Torah scholars to support their class privilege and their taste for meat (“It’s OK to eat meat because the animals themselves agreed to let us eat them…”), if we look a little deeper, the story is morally more complex. The animals’ rationale for their self-sacrifice is based on their recognition that through a process of gastronomic reincarnation, the status of their soul can be promoted to the higher level of the soul of the Torah scholar who eats it. You are what eats you. However, if it’s the Torah learning itself which puts the Torah scholar’s soul on a higher level (i.e., closer to God) than that of animals and human beings who don’t know any Torah – i.e., the am ha’aretz – don’t the words of the cows who originally consented to being slaughtered and eaten imply a knowledge of God’s Torah (specifically, of the true meaning of the verse: ‘The Lord is good to all, and His mercy extends to all His works’), and thus make them morally, intellectually, and spiritually equivalent to Torah scholar? If they were really beasts “who know nothing,” how could they have answered God in the knowing way they did? In other words, the story-teller implicitly considers the food animals as knowing, thinking “Thous” in an I-Thou relationship with God, rather than as “Its” in an I-It relationship, even if it’s paradoxically to have them “rationally” and with full knowledge agree to be killed and eaten.

    Do I or we like or agree with this position? Maybe not. But it shows that the meat-eating rabbinic scholars entertained doubts about the morality of slaughtering and eating animals for meat. And their sense of the cosmic cost of meat-eating led them to question God’s justice itself in permitting it.

  46. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    “Interesting and offensive are not on the same opinion continuum.” or to quote Rabbi S.Tap “there’s a fine line bewteen clever and stupid”:) David you’re quite correct – as I said earlier in the postings “the prejudice clearly outweighs the probative value” there’s a time and place for everything, and center stage at a conference is neither the time nor the place – More troubling however – why is it that when it comes to the beautiful parts of Torah, Hazon feels it can offer virtual copies (virtual kashrus, virtual prayer, virtual shabbos tisch) but when it comes to something which when taken wholly out of context – shechita – which no matter how humanely done is bloody and gory and quite honestly unnerving and gross – Hazon insists on brutal graphic truth and reality. Could there be something else here afoot? Could Hazon be trying to discredit shechita and its Orthodox proponents at the same time while making vegetarians by the droves? (is that an environmental hat trick?) Could there be any link between my kids signing up for Hazon events and them getting PETA solicitations, naaaah – I’m probably just being paranoid.

    Jonathan – thanks for the citation to the Shaarei Ora – I knew the line of thought through chassidus but felt it better left unspoken. Your spin on it however is novel to say the least. Where I come from there is a canon of construction – “ain hamikra yotzei midei p’shuto” at the end of the day, how we explain a text cannot fly in the face of the plain meaning of the text – your initial premise was that this midrashic “chop” (that’s “ch” as in “challah”) was that this was “just a very self-serving argument of Torah scholars to support their class privilege and their taste for meat” why not look at it as a rallying cry for enhanced Torah scholarship? If the cow was truly on the spiritual level of the scholar then the scholar would not have been allowed to eat it! This is a prime example of what Nietzsche calls “biblical exegesis – tha art of reading badly and taking one’s ideas and reading them into a text to then pull them out embued with textual authority” by that token and in a similar realm of reductio ad absurdum, during creation the cow says “Good” – so does “G-d” – several times in fact – can we say that the cow created man and the world?
    You do hit on a valid point which is that shechita does come at a price. Spiritual growth is the process of making the transition between what we can do and what we should
    but thanks for the mareh m’komos

  47. Michael Croland Says:

    David, thank you for sharing your thoughts about why you don’t feel the shechita demo should take place at the conference. Following all the discussion in the last week, it’s very nice to hear those words coming from a rep of Hazon’s board.

    David suggested that Hazon schedule a separate event for those interested in witnessing shechita. Might I suggest a “field trip” to a kosher slaughterhouse? Empire Kosher in Mifflintown, Pa., welcomes group tours so long as they’re coordinated well in advance and are for Jewish educational purposes. I think this would be a good idea because (a) it wouldn’t let the negatives of the shechita demo overshadow all the good of the conference, (b) people would be able to gain the educational value desired, (c) extra animals wouldn’t have to be slaughtered just for this purpose, and (d) this would more accurately portray where most kosher meat comes from. [I might add that, unlike a shechita demo at a conference, this is an outing that I WOULD like to attend (and have tried to before but had trouble organizing it as an individual on short notice). I'm guessing many people speaking out against the conference shechita demo would agree.]

  48. Richard Schwartz Says:

    Shalom everyone,

    I have not read all of the previous statements, but what I have read has greatly impressed me, even in cases where I disagree with points raised, and convinced me that there is much wisdom, Jewish knowledge and dedication in this group. Hence, I think that Hazon can make a major difference in helping shift our imperiled world to a sustainable path.

    I think the controversy re possibly shechting an animal should be put into the following context: the major concern today should be that the world is heading toward an unprecedented catastrophe and considering how to avoid it should be a central organizing principle for society.

    I know that this is a very strong statement so let me try to explain:

    Please consider recent news reports about:
    * major wildfires in Greece and many areas of the US;
    * severe droughts in so many areas of the world; Australia has had a drought for the past 6 years.
    * the severe flooding in England and many mid-western US states;
    * the increased severity of storms; one knocked out the subway system in NYC for a day recently;
    * the melting of glaciers worldwide;
    * the melting of the polar ice caps far more rapidly than even the upper levels of predictions; this has resulted in the polar bears becoming an endangered species.

    All the above and much more has occurred due to a temperature increase in the past hundred years of a little more than one degree Fahrenheit. So, it is very frightening that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group composed of thousands of the leading scientists from many countries, has projected an average temperature increase of 3 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit in the next hundred years. Some leading climate experts, including James Hansen of NASA, have stated that global warming may reach a tipping point and spin out of control, with disastrous consequences, within a decade, unless major changes soon occur.

    Several recent reports tied global climate change to an increased risk of terrorism. A report commissioned by the U.S.-financed Center for Naval Analyses, written by eleven retired U.S. generals, states that “On the simplest level, [climate change] has the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale far beyond those we see today”. The panel of generals, including retired General Anthony Zinni, former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, depicts global warming as “a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world”, which could “seriously exacerbate already marginal living standards in many Asian, African and Middle Eastern nations, causing widespread political instability and the likelihood of failed states”.

    All countries, including Israel, are affected by global warming. An Israeli government assessment in 2000, and a follow-up report by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense in 2007, indicates that global warming could cause a triple whammy, each and all of which would heighten tensions and suffering in and around Israel: (1) a rise in temperature of about 3.3 degrees Celsius, adding to the level of discomfort, the need for additional fuel, and the rate of evaporation; (2) a significant increase in the Mediterranean Sea level, which would threaten the narrow coastal strip of land where 60% of Israel’s population lives and where major infrastructure, such as ports and power plants, would be destroyed; and (3) a significant decrease in rainfall, estimated at 20-30%, which would disrupt agricultural production and worsen the chronic water scarcity problem in Israel and the region.

    But aren’t there scientists who disagree with the above concerns? Yes, but relatively few, and there was a wonderful cover story in Newsweek a few weeks ago debunking the claims of global warming deniers and pointing out how much of such campaigns are funded by companies who benefit from a continuation of the status quo.

    In summary, the above considerations and much more point to a conclusion that the world faces an impending catastrophe unless major changes soon occur. Even if this is agreed to, what does this have to do with Hazon’s upcoming food-related conference? Well, there is a strong connection between the production of food and global warming and other current environmental threats.

    As discussed in other postings, the 2006 UN FAO report indicated that animal-based agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all of the cars, trucks and other forms of transportation worldwide (18% vs. 13.5%). What makes the situation far worse is that the same report projects that the number of farmed animals will double in the next 50 years. If that happens, increased greenhouse gas emissions from ‘livestock’ agriculture would negate the reductions from many other positive changes, such as increasing automobile fuel efficiencies, switching to more efficient light bulbs, etc.

    Hence, while many things should be done to reduce global warming, an essential step is a major shift toward plant-based diets.

    Hazon can do a tremendous Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s Name) by leading efforts to increase awareness of the necessity of dietary changes. And the upcoming Hazon food-related conference would be a great time to start.

    Two other important considerations re the importance of seriously considering a switch to plant-based diets:

    1. Animal-based diets are contributing to an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish and other communities.

    2. The production and consumption of animal products violate basic Jewish teachings re preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and helping hungry people.

    For further information on these issues, please see my over 130 articles at I would be happy to contribute complimentary copies of my books “Judaism and Vegetarianism” and “Judaism and Global Survival” to the group, and perhaps discussions can be built around them. Also, I would be very happy if the documentary that I have been working on A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD was shown at the Hazon conference. It discusses many of the issues mentioned in this message from a very positive Jewish perspective.

    In summary, Hazon can play a major role in getting the issues of global sustainability and why the application of Jewish values in responding to current threats is so important onto the Jewish agenda and eventually onto other agendas. Please consider this carefully.

    Thanks for listening.

  49. Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus Says:

    Rabbi Shmuel,
    I actually agree with your interpretation and indeed I prefer to take this passage as “as a rallying cry for enhanced Torah scholarship.” I really meant to present the “self-serving” theory in the spirit of “You might say…, but rather the Torah teaches…” FYI: I’ve written more about this tradition and its history of interpretation in an academic article “Meat-Eating and Jewish Identity: Ritualization of the Priestly “Torah of Beast and Fowl” (Lev 11:46) in Rabbinic Judaism and Medieval Kabbalah” for the
    AJS Review

  50. Maya Says:

    I am a quasi-vegetarian who is organizing an ethically raised and ethically (to the extent possible) kosher, locally and organically-raised meat CSA. In light of what I am doing, which opens many moral questions that I am constantly exploring, I would take the stand that slaughtering an animal at the conference is in questionable taste.

    I say this for a few reasons. Most of all, it seems like it would be very much a spectacle. This seems like a continuation of the desecration that goes on right now in slaughterhouses, although in a different way.

    Eating meat (or certainly animal products) is something that has been done in all traditional cultures throughout history. And as a doctor, I am not convinced that veganism is the way to go (although some people can be very healthy and vegan). However, meat-eating traditionally was done in a very different way. Basically, in order to eat the animal, it meant that we had to invest financially, emotionally, and physically in the animal’s well-being. It had to be raised in such a way that made it healthy and happy, so that it could gain weight and grow. We had to care for the animal every day, look into its eyes, and develop a spiritual connection with that animal. Eventually, we had to slaughter the animal. For most people, this deep long-term investment in the animal establishes a certain amount of respect for that animal. And this respect, in a spiritually healthy person, will lead to kindness to the greatest extent possible in the process of slaughter.

    I believe that the compromise of taking an animal’s life to sustain one’s own requires that deep respect and gratitude towards the animal that has died. I do believe it is a compromise, because there is of course an element of cruelty in the very nature of slaughter. But OTOH, as a neurologist who treats patients with nutrition to a great extent, and often with success, I’ve learned that animal products offer an enormous health benefit to the brains and bodies of humans. I realize that this is controversial, but in my experience at this point in time, I see patients recovering best eating certain high quality animal products (as well as fruits and vegetables and other things, obviously). Anyway, this is discussion for another post, but my point is, that there is for some people enormous health value to eating animal products (including milk and eggs). And many kosher (and non-kosher) people are going to eat meat no matter what. So, confronting the moral conundrum of ethical slaughter, such as it is, is enormously important to me. And I don’t even really eat meat.

    But to get back to the point of slaughtering the goat, I feel that as mentioned by a prior poster, bringing a goat to a public slaughter seems that it would really stress the animal. It would not necessarily create an atmosphere of respect and kindness for the animal prior to its slaughter. And I feel that it would be very difficult to turn it into something other than a dark spectacle. Ultimately, I worry that it would be done as a way almost to prove a point.

    It may be a good point, but that doesn’t matter to the goat. And therefore, I’m not sure that it really addresses the point at all. Know what I mean?

  51. Michael Croland Says:

    Maya, thank you for keeping this discussion alive. I guess it’s been a couple of weeks since this post went online, but I know that I, for one, am still very passionate about it and have still been thinking about it and discussing it a great deal. I’m anxious to hear more of a response from Hazon about this (in addition to more announcements regarding plans for the conference). I think this really is a great point that needs to be taken into consideration:

    “[B]ringing a goat to a public slaughter seems that it would really stress the animal. It would not necessarily create an atmosphere of respect and kindness for the animal prior to its slaughter. And I feel that it would be very difficult to turn it into something other than a dark spectacle. Ultimately, I worry that it would be done as a way almost to prove a point.

    It may be a good point, but that doesn’t matter to the goat. And therefore, I’m not sure that it really addresses the point at all.”

  52. Joshua Lichtman Says:

    Firstly, though they are minor errors of fact, I feel that I should point out that:

    1) a goat was has never been schected at Freedman. In the summer 05 Adamah, Shalom schected a lamb. Important to point out that after many many hours of preparation, slaughter, and gutting, the lamb was found to be unkosher because of an adhesion between the heart and lungs.

    2) The photo of Aitan with a lamb was not taken a Isabella Freedman. It was taken at Chubby Bunny Farm in the fall of ’06 while I was an apprentice. We slaughtered 5 lambs. None were schected though the slaughters were done in a way resembling kosher slaughter in that a knife was used on the throat of the lambs.

    As someone who has participated in both the Adamah schecting and in the slaughter of 5 lambs last fall, and as a vegetarian for the last 17 years, I have some strong beliefs on this subject. Many of the points I would make are probably repetitive.

    I would agree with those who have said that any potential schecting should be also include a great deal of information on why the life and death of that particular animal is vastly different from the industrial animal slaughter industry.

    Richard continues to point out that the animal-ag industry accounts for greenhouse gases, but we need to also recognize that on small farms, animals are part of a cycle that is healthy for the environment. Animals provide nutrients for the soil that are otherwise brought in through shipping compost. Shipping anything, needless to say, involves carbon emissions. They also provide localized protein. Much healthier for the environment than getting that protein from industrial processed soy. And I say this as a vegetarian.

    I also want to pass on a teaching of the farmer I worked for at Chubby Bunny, Dan (pictured in yellow overalls in the original blog). Dan liked to remind me that “with dairy, comes death.” This is something that vegetarians who do consume dairy products often don’t realize. That even on the most environmentally and animal-friendly farms, getting dairy from animals requires impregnating the mothers each year. The animals that come as a result are often either male or unwanted females. A farmer cannot afford to feed the extra males (you only need one male to impregnate the entire herd) or extra females if the herd is already the size she/he wants.

    I learned a lot about environmental eating from living and working with Dan. Almost all of his food came from his farm or nearby farmers. The lambs and pigs and chickens slaughtered in the fall provided the majority of his meat intake through the winter (while he warmed his house with wood instead of oil). The sheep were slaughtered with intential, and with gratitude, and certainly not with pleasure. It was emotionally very difficult.

    But even though I disagree with the reasoning of most people who have posted against slaughtering at the conference, I still have to question it. Are people really getting the experience? It seems to removed. Too removed from the full cycle. But then again, we’d be connecting to a tradition of celebrating a gathering of people with the slaughter and sharing of an animal.

  53. Sharon Says:

    I was glad to learn about your organization, envionmental ideals and what seemed like a lean towards vegetarianism, since the two are so related.
    I just read this and what you are planning on doing. My stomach started turning as I read it and my heart started to fill up with pain. Just when I thought I found an enlightened Jewish organization. Yes, the fact that you “put it out there” and there is a great deal of opposition gives me hope BUT – how on earth can you even consider such a barbaric act?
    Lionel Friedberg put it perfectly as did Roberta Schiff above. It is appalling and highly disturbing that this is even being considered. There no such thing as humane slaughter. Yes – judging from some of the responses above – well meaning Jews think they can justify and rationalize their meat addiction – but hiding behind archaic rules and taking the life of sentient beings does not justify pain and suffering ( of both the animal, the environment and the humans who eventually get diseases from a flesh diet). We are all intelligent enough to know that animals feel pain, have emotions and are entitled to live out their lives in a way that is inherent to their nature. That’s what Jewish ideology is about. Dr. Schwartz goes into the humane theme in the bible so I won’t go into that. Please do not justify what we do now in the 21st century and relate it to events that are interpreted in so many ways in the bible. Please look into your heart, your soul without any pre determined mental models you may have about vegetarianism and vegetarians. Please do not use God to justify pain and suffering. Anybody with a compassionate heart (even those who say they are not “animal people”) would be opposed to this.

  54. Jonathan Wolf Says:

    I have not had time to carefully read the many thoughtful postings above, but my initial reaction when I read Nigel’s suggestion was very different from that of beloved kosher vegetarian colleagues such as Richard Schwartz, Rabbi Hillel Norry, and Pauline Yearwood.

    As pretty much the original activist for Jewish vegetarianism in N. America [beginning in the 1970s, I founded and led the JVNA, published the "Jewish Vegetarian Sprout" newsletter, and authored pamphlets listing the reasons Jews should be vegetarians to which probably not much has been added in the 30 years since], I hope I have some standing to say that Nigel’s idea sounds to me like a fairly good one.

    The killing and eating of animals is (excuse the pun) the unacknowledged elephant in the room at nearly every Jewish banquet and simcha. (Waste, gluttony, and self-poisoning junk foods lurk in the backgrounds as well). It sounds like the Hazon food conference will feature plenty of dead creatures.

    Why not face the implications and consequences by participating in the actual killing which meat-eating necessitates? Otherwise the kosher carnivore is like Mitt Romney, advocating avidly for somebody to die in Iraq as long as it’s not his strapping young sons.

    I would wager that gathering to watch an actual sheep having its throat slit would turn almost all the observers into vegetarians, as it should. Perhaps some videos from Postville and other kosher slaughterhouses would have the same effect, but maybe not.

    If you can’t stand to kill it, don’t eat it. Since Hazon ought (it seems to me) to stand for food which is humane, sustainable, minimally polluting and carbon-producing, healthful, and holy, that should mean (among other standards) vegetarian. This demonstration might (at some price– but at least not a hidden, denial-ridden cost) remind us all of that.

    A happy and kosher (in all senses) New Year to everyone, and to all of humanity and all of Gd’s creatures.

  55. msk Says:

    I’ll admit up front that I am not a member of Hazon and cannot attend the conference, so this question of shechting a goat may be at more of a remove for me.

    After reading this entire debate, I only thought now to look at Hazon’s vision and mission. There is a great deal in there about exploration, journeys, engagement, and it seems to me that shechting an animal at the food conference fits right in with that mission. The idea is to give people the opportunity to voluntarily witness something they have likely never witnessed and decide about meat-eating on their own. Those who have already decided about meat-eating, one way or another, may or may not change their minds based on what they experience.

    Given Hazon’s mission, and the fact that this is the Food Conference, it seems the perfect place to shecht an animal for the purposes of coming to a greater understanding of what meat-eating involves, rather than in some separate forum. Those who are appalled have the choice of not witnessing the slaughter.

    Those who feel appalled that Hazon would even consider this action and don’t want to financially support it through their conference dues can decide not to go. Several of the posts expressing outright disgust seem to hold the belief that as an environmental organization, Hazon should automatically endorse vegetarianism. But Hazon is not the Jewish Sierra Club, or PETA. Their mission indicates that rather than taking positions, they engage in experiences to explore issues. In that light, it seems obvious to me how they could consider such a “barbaric act” as shechting a goat at the food conference.

  56. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    Hmmm – a bunch of actors shechting a goat – Let’s flm it and call it “The Violence of the Hams”

  57. Brian Says:

    While I won’t be attending the food conference this year, I’ve found this discussion very interesting and enlightening. Even if I’ve come to this page very late.

    To add perspective, I am a committed eco-omnivore (committed to both sides of that statement) which today (different from 20 years ago) might be more difficult than being a vegetarian. I have killed my meat to eat it – but not on a regular basis (I live in a city afterall). I have raised crops to feed myself and my family. I respect and nurture vegetarianism – even though I am frequently disrespected due to my well informed choice. I repeat – FREQUENTLY DISRESPECTED.

    What comes out clearly in the posts above is the fuzzy schism that is growing within the vegetarian/vegan movements. Vegetarians who have made their choice based on a love of animals versus those who have made their choice based on fundamentals of health and the environment.

    The return to roots farming has many enviro-originating vegetarians questioning a staunch position against eating animals. It seems that some animal-originating vegetarians see that the organic/free range movements are more of a threat than McDonalds ever was.

    I think this debate is good and will monitor this with great interest.

    I haven’t even addressed the kosher side of this and only will to state that setting up the slaughtering and eating of Empire Kosher chicken as the moral equivalent of eating and slaughtering organic free-range chicken is the ultimate straw-man argument.

    Of course Empire’s practices are repugnent. As observent Jewish environmentalists who choose to eat meat, we should no more eat Empire Chicken than Tysons or Perdue.

    I hope as we continue this discussion we can make sure to focus on the clear differences between agribusiness and the organic/free range food industry.

  58. Eden Myers Says:

    Were it not for my intent to end his life prematurely to consume the meat, the lamb would never have had any life at all. How does this figure into the ‘depriving an animal of life is the same as causing suffering’ line of reasoning?

  59. Mike Says:


    i just cant´t understand why the jews are so brutal when they butcher an animal. See what i want to say isn´t it better when the animal get shot in the head then the throat gets cut up? Anyway there are too many psycho jews working in slaughterhouses and they can live their fantasy there.

    Sieg Heil

  60. Oogie Says:

    I am not Jewish, but I have hunted and slaughtered my own meat animals. I raise animals primarily for slaughter and have helped in the slaughter of many of our sheep by throat cut as well as by gun shots to the head. Having watched the aniamls, many of whom I know by name and sight, and whom I am often holding, I am absolutely sure that the most humane way is for a skilled person to do a throat cut. A skilled person waits until the animal has relaxed. The shot is almost always more stressful to the animal. In sheep, especially horned sheep, a shot is also potentially risky for the holder as a sheep head is very tough and a bullet, even a 22 can bounce off the skull and hurt a bystander. A sharp knife can also injure a bystander, but at least it’s less likely.

    As for vegetarian being more sustainable that is not correct. Some farms are best suited to producing grasses, forbs, legumes and other plant products that humans cannot eat. Our farm is not suited to arable agriculture. It must be in permanent pastures to be productive. I can’t eat what my sheep eat but I can eat them.

    Humans evolved to be omnivores. It is impossible for a strict vegetarian to have a balanced diet. You must as a minimum eat B vitamins either synthetically produced or get them from animal products. Why would you go against millions of years of evolution to choose a diet that is neither balanced nor environmentally sound?

    There is a world of difference between confinement fed factory farming and a dissassembly line slaughtering plant vs a forage finished, humanely killed in a small plant animal both in the quality of meat and the quality of life the animal has.

    If the person doing the kosher slaughter is skilled and it’s done right it is a wonderful way for a sheep to provide a lot of tasty meat.

    Oh and you don’t have to hang it, it is certainly possible to eat it right away. It will generally have more flavor if hung and aged for a while but the solution to that is to butcher an older sheep from a breed noted for producing tasty tender mutton.

  61. John Says:

    The animal in the picture is a lamb and I never tried eating the meat of the lamb.But then I am not a vegetarian and I love to eat pork and beef. Seeing those animals how they killed is really awful though :(

  62. Shine Says:

    During the time when I was growing up, no dressed chicken were sold yet in the market, no frozen chicken either. When we eat chicken, we have to buy it alive from the market or raise our own and slaughter it ourselves. Of course I didn’t do any of that. I was just a little girl that time and we had maids to do that. But they usually ask me to hold the wings while they slit the throat of the chicken and for me that was a terrible experience. But then I still enjoyed the chicken meal prepared. It probably would have been a different story if I was the one feeding or taking care of the chicken.

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