I remember this incident from my early childhood. I must have been about five or six years old when we had a special guest at our home. Someone had gifted a chicken to my father. I thought it was a pet. It was tied up in our backyard. I asked why it was tied, and I was told that it was because the chicken would jump around everywhere and destroy things around our home, because that was a chicken's nature.
I tried getting closer to it and initiating a friendship, but it was not happening. I immediately felt that the chicken was not happy or excited to be in this new home. Oh, how innocently I thought "Chickens are not friendly creatures"!
After a day or two, I returned from school and found that the chicken was gone. I was told that it was taken away but would come back. It did come back--in a bowl on our diningroom table. "That is what chickens are for," it was explained.
My questions about why could we not keep the chicken alive as a pet, and why we had to eat it, went unanswered. I was too young to realize that the food on my plate could be a walking sqwuaking animal.
It was all very hard to digest then, and it is hard to digest today. The chicken was tied up because otherwise, it would run for its life. It was not friendly with me because it knew it was about to die. I could feel the restlessness in its behavior that day. I can still feel what I felt that day, and it gives me goosebumps as I write.
Have you seen the living animals whose frozen bodies you buy from the store? Give it a try. See if you can see them on your plate after that experience. They are our co-habitants on this planet. Let's make them friends, not food!
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Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)