Do It Yourself Slaughter - A New Concern For Animals
An Animal Rights Article from


In Defense of Animals (IDA)
June 2011

[Ed. Note: As animal rights activists, we MUST promote compassion and decency and justice to ALL animals, which means veganism. There is NO compassion, decency or justice in killing an animal so you can eat them, regardless of how "well" they are treated prior to being slaughtered. Please read “Only Connect.” Is Boiling a Lobster a Bonding Experience? and Humane Farming FAQs and Humane Myths.]

...a new fad, fueled by the local and sustainable food movement, of “killing what you eat” - the hobby of raising and slaughtering animals in urban backyards.

As part of IDA’s vegan campaign, we are concerned with a new fad, fueled by the local and sustainable food movement, of “killing what you eat” - the hobby of raising and slaughtering animals in urban backyards. With the recent news of Facebook tycoon Mark Zuckerburg challenging himself to eat for a year only the meat of animals he kills himself, this new trend is unsettling but, in some ways, encouraging. Zuckerburg is obviously thinking about where his food comes from. This is a fabulous first step on the road to compassionate eating, however, if you are concerned for the animal, why not take it to the healthy and logical conclusion and not eat animals altogether? Zuckerburg admitted that it was troubling to kill a lobster - then why do it at all?

Zuckerberg's choice to do the killing himself, and not turn a blind eye and pay someone else to do the dirty work, is an opportunity to learn (and then teach) the truth about the suffering of animals raised for food. However, there is no such moral conundrum with growing tomatoes. Some meat-eaters are making an earnest but naive attempt at animal welfare, and ultimately the animal suffers. Ethical eating can never include meat.

Backyard Slaughter is the New Black

Urban farmers are approaching city planning commissions and boards of supervisors across the country, proposing to change city ordinances to be able to keep and kill “livestock” for profit. Goats, rabbits, chickens and other animals are finding themselves in small, urban backyards to be slaughtered, gutted and sold with no regulation or oversight.

In Oakland, California, the Oakland Food Policy Council recently submitted just such a proposal to the City Planning Commission. Allowing growing and selling of vegetable crops in the city limits is a positive step toward getting healthy vegetables to “food desert” urban centers. However, the Oakland proposal seeks to deregulate raising and slaughtering animals.

These are just a few of our concerns with these proposals:

  • Well-meaning but inexperienced hobbyists experimenting with raising their backyard herds and flocks will cause unintended death and suffering. Animals require a great deal of experienced care and botched slaughter jobs will result in inhumane suffering and killing.
  • Underfunded animal services do not have enough officers to investigate existing animal cruelty and neglect cases, much less the vastly increased number of situations resulting from livestock raising and slaughtering. We already have so many people who abuse companion animals - imagine if they were given permission to raise and slaughter “food” animals. Cruelty cases, nuisances of odor and noise, rat infestations, and escaped animals would be widespread.
  • People who don’t understand how much work it is to care for animals, or who weren’t prepared for just how grizzly the slaughtering process is, will abandon and neglect these animals, further overwhelm agencies, shelters and rescues which already can't handle the current load of abandoned animals.
  • Growing plant-based foods provides more food per acre than even local, organic, animal food agriculture. With the environmental and climate crisis, we need to maximize the agricultural output of every acre of land as much as we possibly can. The planet cannot afford for us to eat high on some artificial "food chain" any more.
  • Cockfighters use raising “farm” animals to cover for their cruel and illegal operations.

After collecting over 1,250 signatures from local IDA members, and having several concerned Oakland residents speaking at the Planning Commission meeting, the Oakland City Planning Commission agreed, for now, to separate the animal raising and slaughtering component and go ahead with the plant-based portion of the proposal. IDA commends the commission for their compassion and forward thinking. Animal agriculture is not the future of sustainable, local farming.

Is this Happening in Your Community?

These ordinances are sneaking their way into backyards across the country. Pay attention in your community and if you hear of any such proposals, please contact IDA. Are there local, sustainable "foodies" in your neighborhood? Start going to their events. Ask for vegan options at these events. Start a veganic community garden. IDA would be happy to provide support in fighting any animal raising and slaughtering ordnances. For more information, please contact Hope Bohanec: [email protected], 415-448-0058.

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