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Sunday, April 18, 2010

The spiritual conversion of an omnivore

by Dale

Many people debate the merits of vegetarian and omnivore diets. I was a vegetarian for a full calendar year because I wanted the experience. It was good. I was an omnivore because I enjoyed meat. Now I am an omnivore because of a spiritual conversion to this diet. It happened this past year when I made chicken noodle soup from scratch, almost from scratch. I didn’t hatch the eggs but I purchased the chicks and brooded them for four weeks. I moved them across the pasture in a pasture coop twice a day for five weeks and then took them to be processed (See Broilers 101). I didn’t slaughter them myself but I will this year’s broilers. I cooked one of my chickens for my soup. I didn’t grow the wheat but I purchased wheat and ground it to flour for the egg noodles (In my former career as a farmer I raised wheat). I raise the layers who gave me the eggs. I made the noodles (Noodles). I used composted chicken manure to fertilize the onions I grew to add to the soup.

As I completed this ten week project, I set the kettle of soup on the dining room table. I thanked Heavenly Father for it. I was truly thankful. When I put the first spoonful of chicken and noodles in my mouth and watched my family do the same, I realized that I could never be a vegetarian, not because the soup was fabulous but because the entire experience convinced me that an omnivore diet is how mankind should eat – it was a spiritual conversion. I got this year’s broiler chicks two weeks ago. Some people ask “How can you possible think about eating those darling chicks?” They are cute. But I understand our symbiotic relationship. My purpose is to take good care of them and sustain them for their short lives. Their purpose is then to sustain my family. I believe it is a holistic relationship formed by God.  Because of this experience I think differently about all my food. I view that top sirloin steak differently than I used to even thought I didn’t raise the beef. I hope to someday raise my own beef. The telling of my experience will probably not convert any vegetarians. But I would ask all vegetarians to withhold judgment of omnivores until you have made your own chicken noodle soup from scratch. 

By Dale


Michelle said...

I could never give up meat. I love all of it. It's cool that you went a whole year as a vegetarian. You have more will power than I and you can certainly speak from experience now!

Carolyn Johnson Christensen said...

Thank you for this. It helps me move away from humanizing animals, and giving them an improper place in my life. Your attitude reminds me of the little I have read of Native American beliefs - their efforts to come into harmony with the animals they use to sustain life. I am thankful for the role we all (human and animal)play in this wonderful life.


I've been fully entrenched with Disney and just could not butcher an animal. Don't get me wrong. I'm barbecuing this afternoon. I just couldn't do the dirty deed.

karisma said...

I also went through a phase of being completely vegetarian. Then one day I just had to have a steak. I still prefer vegetarian food but do eat meat as well. I have to cook two meals most days though as one of my kids refused to go back to meat. If I had to kill my own chooks though I could not do it. Unfortunately I get too attached and the last two were buried.

mike said...

I plan on having chickens and rabbits that I will raise for food and slaughter. I think it will be very hard on me to actually end their lives. I might even cry a few tears. I want to do it though because I want my kids to appreciate where meat comes from and to appreciate the animals that give there lives for our sustenance.

che said...

Hey there Dale. Kudos for your engagement in producing your own grub! I also find making food (from scratch) to be a most excellent, and satisfying engagement.
Just wanted to make one point, though, regarding your ideological defense of eating meat, which is to say that 99.9% of meat produced in the US is produced in a way not at all like the way you do it. The animals have painful, unhealthy, unsanitary lives and are not killed mercifully. Standard practices in the meat production industries result in meat and dairy products containing feces (+ disease-carrying agents), antibiotics, and growth hormones. While I do enjoy the taste of meat, I consider these other "unseen" factors to be very important, so I strive to buy organic, local, free-range meat/dairy (watch out though, the labels are also very misleading) despite the much higher price tag, or no meat at all. Imagine a butcher saying "Ill give you a discount on your roast if you let me inject the pig with antibiotics, growth hormones, and if I can hold it in a pen only slightly larger than its body"... would you take the discount?

orianaoriana said...

Hey Dale,
Thanks for this post. I too, have been thinking a lot about why I eat meat and for me it comes down to food as medicine, and the belief that we cannot heal our bodies without animal products.

Here is my post on this, but mostly, it addresses the judgement we all have of everyone else's diet: