I’ve always been a meat eater. There was no teenage dabble with vegetarianism. My refusal to eat liver had nothing to do with principles and everything to do with taste and texture (plus it’s really stinky when cooked). But then I never had to confront the reality of what it really means to be a meat eater. Actually, no, I remember one incident in my childhood when, while on a family holiday in France, I came face to (furless) face with a skinned rabbit and realised with shock and bucketfuls of tears that the nice Mr French Farmer did not, like me, keep the bunnies because he thought they were furry, cute and fun to play with.
In recent years, the principles have moved up the food priorities leader board, leaving taste and texture trailing behind. Luckily for me, in many cases superior taste goes hand in hand with principles. Who wants bacon rashers that stew in a frying pan of milky liquid? Who wants chicken breasts plumped up & glistening with injected salty water? Unluckily for me, in most cases superior prices also go hand in hand with principles. This is where rearing our own pigs comes in.
Yes, I named our four pigs, but somehow, the fatter they got, the more emotionally detached I felt. Nevertheless, knowing how worried I get if Nessa disappears hunting for a whole day, and how tearful I get when the sick little kitten on “"Animal Hospital” fails to make it through the night, I was not completely confident that I would get through the “taking pigs to slaughterhouse” experience emotionally unscathed. As I collected windfall apples for the last supper a feeling of guilt crept over me. The pigs would simply be happy to get an extra afternoon treat. I knew what was coming next. This wasn’t a good sign. A few weeks before I had reached a deal with myself – if I couldn’t accept the slaughtering of the pigs, then I would have to go the whole hog (pardon the pun) and embrace vegetarianism. No halfway house of no pork, bacon and ham, all meat would be for the chop (oops, pardon the pun, again!).
So the pigs are now gone. On Thursday next week, Dave will be collecting our bag of pork products. How do I feel? To be honest, I’m still working that out.