The Compassionate Carnivore

The Compassionate Carnivore: Or, How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old MacDonald’s Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat
by Catherine Friend
Da Capo Press, 2008, 291 pages

I read this book over the holidays and it’s been sitting on my desk waiting for a review ever since. It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about it or discuss it, but rather that the message seems somewhat mixed and I haven’t been sure how to approach it.

Maybe I’m too much of a “seeing the world in black and white” kind of gal, because while I know that there are plenty of farmers out there who treat their animals well, who advocate for better lives and more humane slaughter methods for livestock, there’s still a part of me that can’t help thinking, “Yanno, if you really loved animals, you just wouldn’t kill them for food at all.”

This is even more difficult to parse when Compassionate Carnivore author Catherine Friend admits that she’s addicted to ready-meals and county fair pork on a stick. Yes, she and her partner raise sheep in an ethical and humane way, keeping to organic and sustainable principles as much as possible, but her own eating habits are less than stellar and certainly don’t put her in a position to preach to anyone else.

Therefore, I tried to concentrate on reading the book as an account of life on a farm, similar in context to the book Sylvia’s Farm or the blog Farmgirl Fare. And from that point of view, The Compassionate Carnivore scores well with plenty of stories of how Friend and her partner deal with all the issues of sheep-rearing from birth to slaughter.

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