Far and away the thing that most motivates me to consider staying a vegetarian is that I hate the idea of animals suffering -- not only as they die but also throughout their lives. But five weeks into this experiment as a meat lover testing out vegetarianism, I have to admit: I still want to eat meat.
I can’t do factory-raised, but I’m thinking, hey, farm-raised might be a nice compromise. I wanted to talk to some people who were involved in raising and killing their own animals, and lo and behold, I went to a party last week and happened to meet Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brett Ridge, the stars of the reality show The Fabulous Beekman Boys, which tells the story of the couple starting a farm in upstate New York.
The show ended, the farm lives on. Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge raise two pigs a year, have them slaughtered on their farm every fall, and then they eat the pigs’ meat. I watched the episode in which their two pigs, Porky and Bess, are slaughtered, and interviewed Kilmer-Purcell about his experience raising, killing, and eating the pigs.
Q. So you had Porky and Bess from very young?
A. Yes, we got them when they were weaned and we raised them for 10 months before we had them slaughtered. That was the first time we raised and slaughtered two pigs, but we've done it twice more since then. We hire someone to come do it. [Laughs.] It is a misconception to think that every farmer can perform every task on a farm. I have slaughtered chickens before, but slaughtering a pig is a pretty special skill. It would be cheaper for us to bring them somewhere else to be slaughtered, but what’s most traumatic for the animal, we’re told, is the transport. We want to make sure we did everything as humanely as possible, and so we never took them out of their homes.