Ask Margaret #1

 In Ask Margaret
Why do you not eat meat?

Where I grew up on the west coast of Scotland, we were surrounded by fields or arable, dairy and meat farmers. I remember going to the beach and the farmer arriving on the sands with his tractor and trailer. He loaded the wreck, seaweed washed up on the beach, onto his trailer and set off back to the farm. He used the seaweed as fertiliser for his food crops. He also grew beets as animal food and allowed the meadow grass to grow for silage to feed his animals during the winter.

I witnessed the progression of animals on the field one year to fertilise the soil, a year of rest for the soil to break down the fertiliser and then a year or two of crops. However, when I passed the building at the bottom of the road I could not understand why the animals were brought there by the lorry load, sheep and cattle, bleating and lowing. The pigs being walked across from the piggery across the road squealed and tried to run away anywhere. Later in the day I saw the men washing the blood down the road. When we went to the butchers, the carcasses were hanging round the wall. The men serving in the shop used to warn us to keep our clothes clear from the carcasses incase the blood stained out coats. I pieced this puzzle together into the horrific picture of slaughter of these beautiful animals to become the meat on my plate and I began to refuse to eat it.

So animals had a part to play in growing crops. The animals ate the grass and fertilised the fields. During the winter months, the farmer fed his cows on fermented meadow grass and hay and used straw bedding to keep them warm. Even before this time, bullocks were used to pull the farm machinery including the plough. Nowadays farmers use engines instead of bullocks. However, this comes at a price as fuel for these engines is a huge expense for farmers. Perhaps there is a way to have animals on the farm without the need to slaughter them.

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