A few weeks ago, I killed a chicken. It was more than one; it was a few. Three. It was in Mexico; I was visiting my family, and one of the things I wanted to do was get in touch with my culture… which included making my Mexican food from scratch. Which meant starting while it’s still warm.
I did what I wanted to do. Thinking of it now, I hope my actions don’t come across as… murder-y. “Wanting to kill something.” Sounds gross. Like how serial killers start with wanting to murder and torture animals before they move onto humans. That’s not it. I hope no one thinks I’m creepy. I really hate seeing animals suffer, and even though I was willing to help out with my cousin’s chicken-preparing business, I really hoped to see them as suffer as little as possible.
I wanted to give respect to the meat that I eat by proving that I was willing to get my head out of my ass enough to know that hey, the meat that I eat comes from somewhere. And if I wanted to come to terms with that, I better was able to do it myself.
In the end, this essay is just justifying what I did and why I wanted to do it to myself, isn’t it? And justifying it to anyone who comes across, in the vague hope that these random strangers understand.
I wasn’t hungry. I de-feathered and gutted them - but I didn’t cook them, it was just to sell to others. I wasn’t directly profiting from it - I just volunteered for a few to help speed things up for my cousins. It feels a bit selfish to these chickens, even if it was all a giant learning experience for me. It’s an important life skill, but I didn’t need to do it. I wouldn’t have died. But it’ll help me live in the future, which brings me comfort.
For me, I have to have a reason to kill something. Even killing the smallest spider feels wrong. Why am I killing it - just because it’s in my way? It feels like just another continuation of the destructive behavior of humanity - those landlording bureaucrats do it by deforestation and polluting the air, I do it by killing something because it annoyed me. I have to have a genuine reason, like for sustenance, or in this case, a justification of my lifestyle and a lesson in how to do it for sustenance.
If I had the nerve to get uncomfortable with it, I better had the nerve to either push through or start being vegan. And I’m not willing to give up the delicious flavor of meat, so I had to prove to my own brain that I was worthy of eating meat that once came from a living, breathing animal that felt pain like every human.
The chickens didn’t have names. Why would you want to get attached to something you’d have to kill yourself? Even if I can’t give thanks to the chicken by name, I do thank them. Because of them, I was able to get through my own mental hurdles about the meat-industry, my own worthless worries about self-sufficiency, and was able to help my cousins and whoever they sold that meat to.
I was surprised at how easy it was. Mechanically, of course. It was like cutting through a tough pit of a fruit, except that the fruit was warm.
I think I made them suffer. I’m truly sorry to them for that. I hesitated - some part of my brain thought that maybe if I hesitated, it would be better than making things quick. But it doesn’t work like that. But I thank the chickens for withstanding my poor technique - because of their lives I so selfishly extinguished, I can give more painless ends to any livestock I raise in the future.
I’m truly sorry to them for that. And I’m glad that I was able to help prepare them for food, too. There is a learning opportunity, too: now I’ve learned how to prepare a chicken for cooking, and I can now do it in the future - in case the world ever goes to shit and I have to start relying on my own food. I’m not letting up meat, even if the global supply chain fails.
People might be horrified. “Why did you kill a living thing?” Because we’re a predator species, that’s why. We’ve always been raising meat (and getting to terms with killing it) since our inception as a species. I’m not going to reap the benefits of an abusive meat industry that makes its animals suffer while pretending that chicken meat comes from the chicken fairy.
If you’re gonna say that, and then go back to chowing down on your Chik-Fil-A or whatever… I don’t know what to say.
Immigrants and rural families would understand this more, I think. They must get their own meat, not just get it all from a plastic package in a grocery store.
And some part of me fears another response, the opposite “Why do you care so much? It’s just an animal - just meat.” Well, I’m sorry, I really am. I’m not being sarcastic. I’m sentimental… I’ll get over it one day. But I feel as if I owe these nameless chickens something - even if they would’ve died that day anyway (they would’ve), they wouldn’t have had to suffer because I had a beginner technique.
In the future, if I ever get a house with a suitable amount of land (and that allows it), I wish to raise chickens. They say the meat’s better when it’s not raised in mass-manufacture situations. And I sure do like eggs.
A part of the reason I wanted to do what I did is prove I could do it for the future. That I had the guts. That I could do what my ancestors did. And I did, and in some part of myself, I have another checklist in my path to self-sufficiency checked off.
Thank you, nameless chickens.