NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 12, 2014

Anderson: A 'happy, healthy life' for friend and fowl

I don’t really want to be a vegetarian.

I don’t eat much meat, but I really like the occasional bacon-double-cheeseburger grabbed at the Burger King drive-thru, meatballs on my Papa Gino’s Papa Platter, one of a variety of New England Hot Dogs in downtown Salem and for a special summer treat, the just-past-rare steak from Chip’s grill. And how can I give up the traditional holiday meals: turkey at Thanksgiving, corned beef at the Porthole Pub on St. Patrick’s Day, ham or lamb at Easter, pork with sauerkraut “for luck” on New Year’s Day.

But it bothers me, the way animals are treated. I now buy only free-range chicken eggs and get meat from the farmers market at a booth where I’m told the cows live happy lives in the meadow before humane slaughter. I don’t object to humans eating meat, that’s what it’s for — I just want the meat to be treated well on its way to my plate. So, I find what I call “a happy turkey” for Thanksgiving and “happy pig” for New Year’s at Whole Foods, where the treatment of the animal is rated at the meat counter; I’ll be looking for another happy pig for Easter this year.

Yes, Chip thinks I’m crazy: He lets me pay the additional cost.

But I’m not happy enough myself since Chip’s vegetarian sister-in-law sent me that “First Sunshine for 752 rescued hens” video from Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary website.

There’s this chicken farmer in Australia, who a few years ago decided to take his hens from their tiny cages and let them roam free in a fenced enclosure. In the video, Cinderella the Hen is lifted from the cage and placed on the ground in the sunshine. She slowly, almost disbelievingly, stretches her legs, then her wings; scratches in the dirt; lifts her face to the sun; makes a nest in the brush and lays her eggs. Yes, there is emotion-inducing music in the background. And it may be my imagination that the last scene shows her smiling. But I can’t argue with the slogan of Edgar’s Mission: “If we could live happy, healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?”

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