Some of you are asking what i mean by "Cruelty-Free", as in our Cruelty-Free Christmas Feast that we enjoyed a few days ago. I didnt want to post on this right before you started to bake your huge turkey - bad timing - but maybe now is more appropriate.
This is a post i wrote in 2005 which didnt get ANY attention:
There's a lot of confusion about cruelty free diets, and most websites are not very helpful if you are not vegetarian or vegan. So | will briefly describe our understanding of a Biblical, ethical meat eating diet.
I told you at the beginning of the year about our commitment to a cruelty-free diet in a post called "Righteous Men and Meat", and that i had brought the subject up (perhaps unwisely) at a briefing for some Foundations who were asking about the Emerging Church. I also told you that last week I had a weak moment, a lapse of judgment, and am now back on track. But there is some confusion as to what it is we are doing. Maybe I am assuming that everyone knows more than they do. Here is the skinny on our cruelty free diet.
I believe God gave us care of the animals ("govern" is a better word than "dominion") and they, in return, give us food and clothing. We look after each other. It is a contract we have with the animals. under the eye of God. This is why Solomon can say "The righteous man cares for the needs of his animals" Proverbs 12:10
So the question for us is whether we are caring for the needs of the animals that we eat or not. In many cases, particularly in our highly industrialized world, the answer is clearly "NO!" The "acceptable" premature death rate for animals in intensive farming is outrageously high - up to 30% for poultry in intensive broiler houses and up to 15% for pigs. Thats not acceptable for our family. Neither are their living conditions, the food they eat, or their unnaturally rapid rate of growth due to growth stimulants.
"Intensive farming does provide large quantities of relatively cheap food - but often at a cost to the environment or animal welfare." (BBC for Schools - Intensive Farming VS. Organic Farming)
If you think this is a non-issue among the emerging generation - then its time to think again. Our kids are finding out what goes into a Chicken McNugget and they are not impressed. Mass-produced meat saves us a few bucks at the Golden Arches but the abuse of the animals that makes possible such a small price, at least for our family, is an ethical compromise. And we would rather pay more for meat, or eat less of it, and keep our consciences clear. So thats why we are taking care to find out the history of the animals we eat, and are buying from butchers rather than supermarkets, and have avoided buying "suspect" meat from fast food outlets all year. We used to take our family to either Burger King or MacDonalds about once a month. Now it is far less frequent than that and when we do go (only once this year). . . we don't order the chicken.
"Christ of the Wilderness, hear our confession.
We are MacDonald's, we confess our sin,
This is our temple, where we eat our fast feasts,
We are ready to enjoy a happy meal, but not to eat a meal of sadness for injustice.
HUNGRY GOD - HAVE MERCY ON US"
From a Grace church service mentioned in "Buffy the Backside Slayer"
Anyway - no judgment or snobbiness flowing out of our family to those who hold to a different ethical stance on their diet. And there are times when we go to eat at other peoples houses where we will "eat what is set before us" (Luke 10) I just wanted to explain where we are coming from, the ethics of our kitchen, and our take on how we are applying the Scriptures to our eating habits.
The Five Freedoms were drawn up by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, set up the UK government and are widely accepted as a standard of animal welfare. The Five Freedoms are:
1. Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition - by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
2. Freedom from discomfort - by providing a suitable environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease - by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
4. Freedom to express normal behaviour - by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
5. Freedom from fear and distress - by ensuring conditions which avoid mental suffering. LINK
Further reading: Compassion in World Farming
A good book that really helped me was "Meat" by Hugh FW.
An earlier article i wrote about ethics, consumerism and the emerging church is called "Buffy The Backside Slayer"