Farmer Brown’s Revelation
“If I was going to be true to myself and live to my full potential I had to reevaluate, think, and choose. I chose life. So no, in my experience, there is no such thing as humane animal products, humane farming practices, humane transport, or humane slaughter.”
I am always particularly touched by stories of former meat and/or dairy farmers having a profound change of heart, because this represents such an act of courage and compassion that the tales have great power to open our eyes to the reality of animal farming.
Harold Brown is one of those people whose story is extremely powerful. He’s a former beef farmer and founder of FarmKind. He’s also a subject of the documentary film Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home.
In his own words :
“I was born on an independent family cattle farm in south central Michigan, and I have spent over half of my life in agriculture. I started out as any farm kid does who has grown up around animals.
There was an indoctrination involved as to how I should relate to farm animals. My indoctrination started with my parents, then family, then community, our church, 4-H, FFA, a land-grant college, and finally, the reinforcement of advertising on TV and elsewhere that portrayed meat, dairy, and eggs as essential to human wants and nutrition.
With these influences, I hardly thought twice about the things I had to do on the farm: driving cattle, castrations, dehorning, and I did my fair share of butchering too. I also worked in the dairy industry for three years.
All of these life experiences have been part of a journey that has taken me from thinking about farm animals in the context of animal husbandry and as commodities, to thinking about them as something more….
Through a Guernsey steer named Snickers I realized how I had developed coping mechanisms that allowed me to view animals as objects of utility. I had an immediate image in my head of a light switch over my heart that I could turn on or off depending on who or what I was dealing with. I also realized that the cue for that coping mechanism was the phrase ‘I don’t care.’
I now understood that when I made a choice that was not in alignment with my authentic self, out of tune with my heart, I would say I don’t care and uttering it would put me in a place where I was disconnected emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually from the “other”.
At that moment I knew that I could no longer be part of anything that took a life and that I could never use that phrase again. What I learned then was that if I choose not to say I don’t care then I was in a place where I had no alternative but say “I care.” I will call it unconditional caring but might be better understood as unconditional compassion, has profoundly changed my life. It has required a tremendous amount of hard work to practice emotional honesty; something our culture does not teach folks and particularly males.
Animals who are destined for an abbreviated life that ends in a violent death now called to my conscience and required me to show up, and where I could, show what little bit of mercy I can. Since I have made this conscious decision to show mercy, my life has been blessed a million, million times over and I have found a deep peace. “