Like a Friend to the Slaughter

A couple of days ago I heard whisperings about a lamb raised by a group of school children in Kent. The aim of the project was to teach the children about farming. They named him Marcus.

On Monday, the headteacher of the school confirmed that the children, aged 6-11 had voted 13-1 to have Marcus sent to slaughter and the money raised was to be used to buy piglets to help continue the farm project. This plan however, looks like it will be put on hold indefinitely following the media furore surrounding the decision. Children and parents from the school and the general public are outraged and some parents of the school are threatening legal action as their children are apparently deeply traumatised by decision.

What do I think? Although I don't think that the death of one sheep should cause such a stink given the global magnitude of animal agriculture, this could well be one of the single most enlightening experiences of these children's young lives and maybe (hopefully) even their parents.

As a young child, I remember watching television with my parents and seeing a whale being harpooned. I quietly got up, went upstairs and cried; I'd never seen anything like it before and I couldn't understand why. My mother came up to console me but as far as I can remember she couldn't give me any more of an explanation than 'These things happen'. My next experience of violence against animals was seeing a pig being slaughtered on TV at the age of 11 (contrary to how this may seem, I didn't get all my life knowledge from TV as a child, just the gory bits it seems. I loved Robocop though and used to slo-mo the bit where the guy who'd been in the vat of acid gets run over... Go figure). Although distressing this gave me the knowledge to truly understand where my food was coming from and at the age of 11 I stopped eating meat, much to the dismay of my parents who refused to cook for me in an attempt to make me change my mind. Obviously it didn't.

Armed with my childhood experiences I believe that those traumatised children will be just fine. Although I was never involved in making such a tough decision as theirs, I know they are now armed with a real knowledge of what they are biting into when they eat meat and that it once had the potential to be as much of a friend as their beloved cat or dog. They can no longer be mollycoddled by their parents or have the wool pulled over their eyes (pun, groan) and can make informed, independent decisions.

To say I am saddened by Marcus' death would be true, although in the grand scheme of things it is utterly ridiculous to be touched by just this one story. Just because he had a name it doesn't make his life and death and more tragic than those of the millions of animals mistreated and slaughtered daily for the benefit of us humans. The only difference in Marcus' story is that his death has been so high profile that it could very well be the kick up the arse that many have needed to stop eating meat and hopefully, all animals products.

So many people are happy to buy their pre-packaged products and let their taste buds and weak wills call the shots. Maybe Marcus' story will start to make those people think twice.


Post a Comment