What I’m about to write may cause me to get a ton of grief but I’m going to write it anyway: I think I would like to kill a chicken. The way I look at it, if I’m going to go down to the market and buy its breast or the pair of its thighs packaged up neatly and sanitarily in plastic wrap and Styrofoam, I should be comfortable taking an axe to its neck.
The operative word in that sentence, of course, is should, because I don’t feel comfortable with the thought of taking an axe to anyone’s neck, let alone my dinner’s. Why is that though? Why do so many of us who eat meat feel squeamish at the thought of turning an animal into it? Recreational fishermen and women do it all the time — in the remake of The Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan version, not the one with the triplets) it is indicated that the father and the twins fish for and gut their meal, though all the action takes place off screen. For some reason, the idea of killing and cleaning a fish isn’t nearly as disturbing to some as the idea of doing the same to a bird — let alone a pig, a cow, a lamb, a rabbit, a deer, a calf, etc.
Let’s clarify a few things first. I’m not saying I’m going to acquire some live poultry and separate their heads from their bodies, just as I’m not saying that anyone who eats meat should first kill his or her food. I am very much a carnivore, and I sincerely doubt I will ever return to vegetarianism unless prescribed so by a doctor, and even then I know I’ll go against medical advice. I like meat far too much. I’m eating some lamb meatballs right now and they are lovely.
What I’m trying to say is this: I think it would be important for me — not for you or for anyone else, as this is not a doctrine — to kill something with the intention of then cooking and eating it. I think it would be a significant experience, and would force me to consider even more about what it is that I’m putting into my body. Too much of what we eat is almost automatic. We’ve turned animals into objects in a manner that epitomizes the definition of the word objectify, and if we are in fact what we eat, I want to be proud to be called chicken.