A Travellerspoint blog

June 2014

My heart still aches. Life, and death.

In the lands of Ngobobo; Maasai live on.

sunny 20 °C

In retelling stories from this past weekend, tears are coming to my face. The goat; I watched give its life. And maybe give isn’t the right word, for give implies choice, and the goat seemed not to have a say.

It is part of Maasai culture, but to me I just feel sad.

I watched and went to witness because I felt if I am going to eat meat (and for all the meat I’ve ingested in my lifetime), I ought to be aware of the full process. And, indeed, the fact that I have eaten meat for so long without ever seeing or truly knowing the process is what perpetuates the awful practices of the meat industry (indeed meat and industry ought not to be words that go together).

It’s easy to eat meat when you are blinded to the process, purposefully kept hidden. When you find it in the grocery store neatly packaged, not resembling the beautiful animal it once was, no signs of life, or death, just meat in a Styrofoam package wrapped in plastic.

It’s easy to ignore the fact that a life was taken, that an innocent animal was killed. I might actually go so far as to say it’s not even ignored because ignore implies a conscious thought to push something away, but I don’t even think we think about it on that level, it’s just meat, it’s there, we buy it, we eat it… tada. How did it get there? We don’t ask questions, we just buy, and consume…and buy and consume. But the reality is, it was an animal, it had a life, a life like you and me have a life, we breath in and out, and we live, so too do the animals, so too did those animals in those neatly packaged containers and its life was taken for our consumption and if we’re lucky, it lived a happy life, on pastures and was free to roam but more often than not, and especially in today’s day, if you’re buying it in a grocery store and you have no idea who the farmer is, and how it lived it’s life, it’s probably industrialized meat. Which means it likely never saw the light of day, never roamed pastures freely, and was injected with steroids, growth hormones, and antibiotics, force fed corn based products which irritate their stomachs, while it stood in its own fecal matter pushed up against hundreds of other animals. But we ignore this, we ignore it because it’s too painful to deal with, and because theres a lot of money to be made and so the industry wants us to ignore it so a lot of money goes into keeping our eyes blinded. And I think a lot of us know the process is bad, we have all heard stories and have seen PETA videos, and heard our vegetarian friends tell us their reasons for not eating meat, and we’re starting to learn more but yet we still ignore because it’s painful. It’s so incredibly painful. But, I think it’s time we unveil ourselves to the truth because until we truly feel that truth our actions are blind, and we create unnecessary harm.

Witnessing the goat lose its life on Saturday brought so many emotions into my body, namely grief, and guilt. For all the animals I ate growing up, I don’t think they were so lucky to live on Maasai lands and be outside, free. While watching this goat die was hard, it certainly had the long end of the stick, this was heaven compared to the industrialized meat process – the meat I ate before I knew better.
I can’t get the image of the goat out of my mind. Its innocence, just sitting there, instinctively knowing its fate and thus not trying to fight it.
In this moment, I want nothing more than to bring it back to life. I see I’m going through the stages of grief, disbelief/shock, anger, bargaining….I find myself bargaining, about wanting to return to the moment it was still alive, and set it free. It’s so scary to me that there is no turning back. What is done, is done and there’s no going back. A life was taken, it can’t be reversed. I hate that I sat there and watched, knowing this goats fate – did it know its fate?

I asked to pet its head before it was killed, I told it sorry (pole), and I thanked it for its life. I wanted to do more, to have a ceremony around the gratitude for its existence but there were so many people around and watching and it felt weird – though that’s no excuse.

I hope so much, in my heart, that the goat felt no pain, and that up until its death, it was relaxed and happy – I really hope for that, but there is no way for me to truly know.

It really freaks me out that it is gone, forever.

Writing about it now I’m filled with so much sadness and am crying again. I feel so much sorrow.
I think if people are going to eat meat, there is no excuse to ignore the realities that are. One should have to bear witness to the WHOLE process. It’s not okay to turn a blind eye. It’s of course harder to bear witness in the west when a lot of it happens behind closed doors, but if you’re buying organic meat (and for your own health too, I hope you are), and you know your farmer, visit the farm and witness a killing, then decide if you will continue to eat meat – I think it’s only fair.

The whole process has deeply affected me, and I will never be the same. I feel a deep sense of pain and loss for not only this goat, but for all animals that have given their lives and give their lives daily, that have no chance against humans, and those, especially, that don’t even get the decency of being outdoors.

I remain undecided about eating meat. I did eat the goat, around the fire and then at dinner. I felt it was important to taste it and be one with the whole cycle but it didn’t feel good as I ate it. I saw it’s face, and the process, and as I chewed the meat so many images flooded my mind.

At breakfast the next morning we were asked if we wanted bacon with our eggs, and I said no. I just couldn’t. Already I don’t eat that much meat and when I do I purposefully choose organic, ethically raised, and happy meat but even still, after seeing this goat process I’m not sure I will eat much at all. I still keep the same sort of principle about food being a community process and if I am at dinner at someone’s house and they have prepared a meal I don’t want to refuse to eat it if it’s meat but it’s complicated, and the answers are more and more less clear.

To the goat that gave it’s life on Saturday, and to all other animals that have given their lives – I thank-you and I am so sorry for any pain you felt, or any unhappy lives you may have led. I share in your pain. I can’t bring you back to life, so I send love out into the universe as I’m not sure what else I can do.

I hope my words have done the experience justice; I deeply hope that my experience can touch others the way it has deeply touched me.

Asante mbuzi. Nakupenda sana.

Posted by Jocelynn.R 00:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged death life love tradition meat maasai sacrifice goats industrial ngobobo Comments (0)

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