Lately I have been calling myself a ‘selectarian’. I used to say I was a vegetarian and at one point a pescatarian. So many diets and ways of identifying yourself in so little time.
It all started with watching a beef processing video in 6th grade. I was mortified by the visualization of one of my beloved animals (at that time I called them moo-cows) being systematically lined up for a brutal butchering. That was enough for me to make my familys' life a little bit harder. You see, I don’t think anyone in my mid-west family had ever voluntarily turned down bacon, hamburgers, or god forbid my fathers coveted lamb dish. But in my youthful idea of ethics I was not going to contribute to the killing of cows- but white meet was still in play.
I cut out chicken and turkey after learning more about the hormones and caged practices during a 2004 European music festival called Roskilda. Later in Barbados, an intimate moment with a barracuda while scuba diving followed by chocking on a fish bone in a fancy restaurant on the island prompted me to go full veg-head. I made exceptions here and there for what I called ‘cultural experiences’. These usually occurred while traveling abroad; when being polite or fully embracing an opportunity trumped my meat morals.
Learning more about the food web and industry in general has steered me away from the highly processed ‘meat’ substitutes and directed me toward the free-range, hormone-free, and local meat sources. Ya know, happy meat! And thus, I have become a bacon lover once more and a snob in selecting what animals I consume. Today was a bit of a personal test.
At five o’clock Pechan, a local Thai farmer who lives here at Rak Tamachat, would take the lives of our dinner using traditional methods. If I was going to honestly say that I am okay with eating meat under certain circumstances then I needed to be willing to watch it happen. I have seen these fowl take two daily circuits around the farm eating freely and by all appearances enjoy their life. If there was ever a meat to eat it would be this.
They were first tied up and laying quiet calmly in a basket. I bent down to pet them and express my gratitude. Pechan reached in for the first and grabed her by the wings. There was a little struggle but soon she was immobilized across his lap. He carefully shaved a patch of her neck with a sharp butchers knife and then cut. The blood drained out into an ordinary food bowl. After a long minute passed he nonchalantly tossed the half-alive bleeding duck back into the basket and retrieved the second. A little wave of nausea passed over me but I refused to show my feelings and hid behind my camera.
To everyones surprise a third bird was selected from behind the counter. This one was a young rooster. He fought every step of the way but Pechan remained just as calm as before and held the bleeding bird upside-down as it flapped and ungulated until it surrender to its last fight.
And now as I sit here on my porch I will take another gulp of cheap beer, post this blog, and head over to join in the community barbecue. Will I eat the meat?