I killed a chicken the other day. On purpose.
I carefully grabbed her from the cage, carried her over to the killing cones, placed her in upside down and then drew a knife across her neck. Her eyes closed quickly and silently, her body convulsed just a little bit and then went quiet. Blood drained from her now-severed neck and pooled on the ground below. Some made it onto my shoes and clothes.
Then, I cut off her head entirely and dipped her in scalding hot water and then into the spinner that rubs all the feathers off. After that, she no longer resembled the little chicken I had raised from a day-old chick and that had only the day before been wandering around the barnyard with her sisters looking for bugs and little pieces of grass to chew on. The connection was gone. And that saddens me.
Not sure why. She lived a good life for a chicken: plenty of food and water, a nice warm, safe place to sleep, lots of exercise and fresh air.(Most people would be so lucky!) And she was raised to be slaughtered and eaten. But it was just so easy to take that life. I didn’t feel any hesitation in the moment, no pangs of doubt or remorse. I still don’t feel remorse. That’s not how I feel. I just feel sad that the chicken is no longer around. That I killed her.
But I would, and undoubtedly will, do it again. It’s just that now I am a more honest participant in the circle of life and death. I am more aware. It’s one thing to know that our meat was once alive, a living, breathing entity, and that it had to be killed by someone and then cut up and packaged into something that is unrecognizable as the animal it once was before it comes to me and I can buy it in the grocery store. Most conscious and enlightened omnivores understand this, at least abstractly. But to know this first-hand, to have drawn the knife across the throat and watch the life drain out of a body is somewhat more humbling. It is to develop a somewhat more intimate and awful connection to the reality of death in life and life in death.