Susannah Constantine has caused outrage by posting a picture of her ten-year-old daughter Cece proudly clutching a dead duck and with her face smeared with blood to mark her first kill.
I’ve been reading all the various reactions from people and mostly the debate has developed into whether or not you should be honest with your children about where meat comes from. And this is missing the point entirely.
1. How much of the meat that you eat on a daily basis was killed on a country estate by posh people for ‘sport’? The odd pheasant casserole possibly if you’re in the 1% of the country that takes part in these country pursuits but otherwise basically none of it. So if ‘education’ is really what this is all about then you would presumably be as keen to take your kids around a slaughterhouse, a factory farm or a chicken shed? No I thought not… The reality is slightly less palatable isn’t it?
2. Of course you should be honest with your children about where meat comes from – but not if you’re feeding them totally incorrect information. Not if your moral compass is completely out of whack. I was told from a very young age where meat comes from (I was raised on a small farm) but I never witnessed it. The closest I came was when mum insisted we stay inside whilst dad strangled all the chickens that had stopped laying eggs so were now ‘surplus to requirements’. Funnily enough, my parents weren’t shuffling us into ringside seats for this barbaric spectacle. Alongside my education of where meat comes from I was also told that these animals were put here to feed us – that that was their purpose, their raison d’etre. I was told that we needed meat to survive and that is was an entirely natural process. What total nonsense!
3. I was certainly not told the whole truth. How most animals in the world are kept in horrific concentration camp conditions for their entire lives before being needlessly slaughtered at a dismally tender age. I wasn’t told what happens to every single male chick born to the egg industry – minced alive at less than a day old by thousands. I wasn’t told what happens to the dairy calves that aren’t wanted for veal – killed within the first week as ‘by-product’ of the dairy industry. And I certainly wasn’t told that I could live a perfectly happy, healthy, compassionate life without ever having to eat, wear or use any animal products ever again.
So if the person guiding you through life’s moral maze is a member of the third reich and is telling you that it’s ok to gas someone because they are Jewish it’s probably not the kind of education I’d be wanting for my kids and its certainly not a defense to say that at least their being honest!
A child is incredibly easily influenced by what their parents say, as we all are by people in positions of authority to us, which is how otherwise decent human beings throughout history have been coerced into doing horrific things under the misguided guise of ‘doing the right thing’.
Teaching children that it’s ok to kill animals for sport or food is not okay in my book. It’s wrong, it’s confusing, it’s deeply irresponsible and it’s dangerous. If we want to raise the next generation of children to be compassionate, free thinking, rational individuals then we need to start being honest about how inexcusable it is in this day and age to consume any animal products of any kind.