Mom and the Texas Chicken
My mother used to tell a story of when she first visited my dad’s family in northeastern Texas and had an eye-opening experience that she never forgot.
Mom was a New York City girl and her only real contact with animals had been with the family cat or maybe a stray dog or street squirrel.
My father grew up on a farm and his family down south were “down home country folk” and knew their way around a barnyard.
She went into town with my aunt and on the ride home found herself sitting in the back seat of the car next to a chicken in a crate.
My mother had always felt affection and pity for animals and she bonded a bit with that animal, not realizing what the poor girl’s fate would be in just a few hours.
Perhaps my mom thought the chicken would lay eggs for my aunt and uncle, but when she sat down to dinner later she was pretty stunned and horrified to find that the chicken she had pet and talked to was sitting on the table as a roasted corpse.
She was sick to her stomach and couldn’t eat it.
My relatives teased her, not meaning to be cruel, but just trying to understand what the fuss was about…didn’t she know where her chicken meal in the big city came from?
Did it miraculously appear without the requisite blood and gore, without the animal resisting it’s own death, without a violent killing?
Not that they put it quite that way, of course. I’m certain that they did their best to kill the animal quickly, but nevertheless, the truth is that the chicken had its life taken against its will.
My mother made herself content with vegetables and mashed potatoes that night.
That meeting with the chicken made the idea of slaughter suddenly real and compelling, and I really believe that if most people met “their meat” they would feel exactly as my mother did.
Sadly, people don’t connect with the food on their plate because the ugly killing is done out of sight.
I’m not sure how long it was before she ate another bite of chicken, but she did at some point, and she ate meat as long as she lived.
Which never made any sense to me.
I never confronted her about it, but it was bizarre to me that her kind heart for animals had experienced an epiphany, and yet no change was made in her behavior.
Of course, back in the day, especially during my mother’s time, to become vegetarian was akin to joining a cult or losing your mind, so I guess in hindsight I can at least try to understand that she just didn’t have the strength to overcome her societal conditioning and need to fit in.
Which makes me grateful that it’s not really that way any more.
The world is changing at last (albeit not fast enough for the suffering animals) and not eating meat or even any animal products is not considered as unusual as it once was.
Ask yourself if you, too, would have felt pity for the chicken and distressed at the idea of her violent end for nothing more than a taste on the tongue, soon forgotten.
With all the delicious alternatives to meat and other animal products, you can live what you feel in your heart more easily now than ever.