In this social media world, farm animals are getting the attention they deserve. Even people who eat meat are concerned by the pictures of the immense factory farms, by the sights of the trucks carrying poultry and pigs to slaughterhouses, and by the news reports of the millions of farm animals who become victims of natural disasters or fires.
In Providence, North Carolina, there is a farm sanctuary named Ziggy’s Refuge Farm Sanctuary. Ziggy, a pig, was the start of a new life for Kristin Hartness and Jay Yontz and they now have become dedicated to helping farm animals. We encourage you to visit their Facebook page or even visit the sanctuary during the available tours.
I became a vegetarian when I was in my late teens, a little over fifty years ago, but I had wanted to become one when I was eleven years old. At that time, we were living in Baumholder, Germany, where my soldier father was stationed. One night, Mother fixed veal for supper. I looked at it and asked where veal came from. Mother told me baby cows, which greatly upset me. Then, when I was about to put my first bite in my mouth, my mother said, “Mama, mama” in a sweet little calf-type voice. I refused to eat the veal, and have never had a mouthful of it. That supper started me really thinking about where our meals came from, and my parents told me that when I was a little older, I could make the decision to stop eating meat if I still wanted to. They probably thought I would never think about it again.
I had my last piece of ham on August 24, 1972, and my last piece of steak on December 23, 1972. I was the typical person who gives up red meat first, when the poultry industry is actually a lot crueler than the beef industry.
I claim the distinction, whether it’s true or not, of being the first person in this area to go to Burger King and order a Whopper with no meat. I claim that distinction by the reaction of the Burger King staff after I placed the order.
In November of 1980, I was working at Brigham Young University and went to the credit union to withdraw money to buy a plane ticket home for Christmas. The credit union had a nice Thanksgiving display, complete with a live turkey. I stood in line by that turkey for 20 minutes, didn’t eat turkey the next day for Thanksgiving, and have not had a mouthful of poultry since. Guess what happened when I bought an aquarium filled with goldfish? That’s right, I gave up fish.
Vegetarian choices are so much easier now. Most grocery stores carry soy milk, meat substitutes, and even eggs from free-range chickens (although there are many problems with even those).
There are many types of vegetarians. Some eat dairy products and eggs, some do not, and some do not eat gelatin. (I researched how gelatin is made, so I gave up Jell-O, marshmallows, etc.). Veganism is also gaining in popularity.
One only has to look at the difference in the condition of animals on factory farms from those living in good sanctuaries to know that they are intelligent, emotional animals.
I believe that Heavenly Father created animals for our use and enjoyment, giving us dominion over them. Dominion actually means stewardship, rather than giving us complete freedom to overuse, misuse, or abuse. Before I knew about the cruel factory farm methods of today, I knew that, deep down inside, I could never eat an animal without thinking about them as individual creatures.