The story of the Peasenhall pigs filled me with horror. No, not that the school were going to let children get involved in the rearing of pigs only to see them sent off to their slaughter. Children of farmers all around the land are used to that, and I believe are no more unbalanced than the rest of society. Indeed my own mum will tell tales of Jimmy the wartime pig being sent off for slaughter, and being upset. But not hungry.
No, what upset me was this idea that children should be shielded from the truth of meat production. For me, those that are shielded from the truth are probably many of the same ones who end up not caring about what’s in their food or where it came from. Or even worse, not knowing that it came from an animal as they only ever see it in polystyrene trays or ready meals. And look where that has got us, or what it has allowed the supermarkets to do in the name of everyday value.
I disagree with the statement that this exercise will “desensitise” the children’s view of pigs and their value. I would have thought quite the reverse would be true, and they would be more likely to care, having seen what it takes to give them a good life, and a good death.
I am not sure about the statement of this being about the school pushing meat as a healthy option, I haven’t seen everything the school has said about this. What it would be seem to pushing is meat as a considered option, where you think about every stage of the pig’s life, and its death. I’m with Emma Haines of Cook With Me Kids, I believe this route teaches compassion, not a lack of it.
What the vegans might consider is that children might make an informed choice after this to not eat meat. At least they have all the facts to consider. Which is surely what an education should be about. The gathering of information in order to consider your own perspective and make your own choice. To question, and to answer.
I do choose to eat meat, and I choose to eat good quality meat from producers who care about their animals. If I couldn’t choose meat from those sources, then I wouldn’t eat cheaper meat, I’d eat less meat. I know I am lucky to have the choice, and I would also hope that I have brought MGG up to understand the choices that we make. She’s seen animals cared for when we shared care of four sheep one year, and seen them go off to slaughter, and return to the dinner plate.
So I will stand up and applaud the school and Cook With Me Kids, and the parents and children who get involved. I wish the pigs a happy and well cared for life and a good end. I wish those who cook with the meat good cooking, and minimal waste, to show ultimate respect to the animals. That’s not lacking in compassion in my book. I respect the fact that others see things differently, and I respect the rights of people to choose.
If this came to MGG’s school, I’d be delighted and give her every encouragement to get involved. What about you? What would you do?
Photo by A.Sparrow on Flickr.