How Do Animals Feel About Being Killed for Meat?

One of the arguments for vegetarianism holds that killing animals for meat is just like killing human beings—that killing animals is “murder of the innocents.”

How do animals feel about being killed for meat?I am reminded of a letter from a chapter leader, Elizabeth Benner, about the nature of animal sacrifice, which we published in Wise Traditions some years ago:

“It is crucial to understand and accept the gift of sacrifice from our animal friends. Otherwise an individual can really struggle with the eating of animal foods that are so important in developing the will and the physical body to do one’s calling here on Earth. This mystery was understood in all ancient cultures and is still found in the indigenous cultures. Living here in Kansas, I find that American lore is full of the esoteric mysteries on the great sacrifice of the buffalo. I am always moved by the stories that they tell. When the tribal community was in need of buffalo, they always performed a great ritual of prayer and ceremony. Deep was the appreciation and understanding of what this buffalo was going to offer them. The tales are told repeatedly of how, after the prayer and ceremony, one buffalo always separated itself from the herd to offer itself up.

“My buffalo farmer here in Kansas has read and studied these myths. The way they honored the buffalo before the sacrifice was so moving to his soul that he took upon himself to honor them in his own way. The night before he kills a buffalo, he prays deeply to God, thanking him for these animals and for all they provide him and his family and his small community. He tells me that he does this every time–and every time he goes out to his herd of over two hundred head, one buffalo always separates itself from the herd, coming towards him. When he first told me this, I cried, it was one of the most powerfully moving things I had ever heard. . .

“When animal sacrifices are done in this manner, members of the younger generation who have been struggling with vegetarianism are often able to participate in taking the animal foods, provided they are respected and raised the way my buffalo farmer does. They often realize as I did when I disdained meat-eaters, how arrogant I was and condescending I was about a way of life that our ancient ancestors laid down as the means to achieve great strength and powers within the human temple. When you take in the animal food, you take in its spirit and powers. I do not have words to describe the incredible feeling that mantles my soul as I tuck into my buffalo burger. And my will forces are stronger than they have ever been in my life. And certainly, all of us need strong will powers, each one of us, to do our own part in making the necessary changes in this world.”

After this letter was published, I heard another story from a WAPF member. She grew up on a farm where they raised a few beef animals—all of them with names. Every fall the family had a solemn meeting around the kitchen table, in which they voted on which animal to kill for their supply of beef. They chose the animal by name, and always, without fail, that animal would be standing apart from the others the next morning, ready to go.

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One final story, told to me by a dairy farmer in Holland: When their dairy cows get old and nonproductive, they take them out of the herd and arrange for a truck to pick them up to take them to the butcher. He has a special pen for these animals and always goes to them the night before to thank them for all the milk they have given and to bless them for their coming sacrifice. The next morning they walk peacefully into the truck.

Once he had put a cow in the special pen and said goodbye with his blessing. But the next morning, for some reason, the truck didn’t come. The animal—always peaceful up to this point—became wild, banging around in the pen, almost uncontrollable. This persisted until the truck finally came—she had been ready to go, and became upset when her opportunity for sacrifice didn’t occur.

These examples show us that animals are tied to human beings in profound and mysterious ways. Perhaps we are asking the wrong question—not “How dare we kill innocent animals for meat” but “How dare we refuse to honor the willingness of domesticated animals to sacrifice themselves for us?”

The Weston A. Price Foundation has over five hundred chapter leaders who help people find animal foods that have been humanely raised on pasture, and killed with respect. Consider becoming a member to support the work we do.

Author: Sally Fallon Morell

Sally Fallon Morell is best known as the author of Nourishing Traditions®: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels.

15 thoughts on “How Do Animals Feel About Being Killed for Meat?”

  1. Just found out about your blog! Have had Nourishing Traditions for years and struggle getting our diets under control. would love to win the Four Fold Path to Healing..

  2. There is no scientific evidence for these assertions, only anecdotes. It makes you feel better, but there is no basis reality.

    1. Anecdotal evidence is routinely dismissed in the scientific community, as well as the public at large that has not had the benefit/misfortune of the same observation. However, to suggest that anyone’s personal experience is invalid due to the lack of a scientist peering over their shoulder taking notes is not based in reality either. If you told me something incredible that happened to you, should I disbelieve or discredit you because no one has done a study to qualify it? Should we discredit all religious beliefs because there’s no scientific evidence?

      Secondly, I read nothing in this article claiming any assertion – these are simply stories related to the author by others, and clearly stated so. As a farmer, I have heard of many more similar experiences from other farmers. These “anecdotal” tales come solely from small farmers and homesteaders – we would never hear of anything like this from CAFO farms or slaughterhouses. One really must posses a deep spiritual awareness and a strong connection to one’s own livestock to experience anything like this.

      I unwaveringly and unapologetically give my animals a sincere blessing of thankfulness every time they are slaughtered, and again when I sit down to a meal, because I am genuinely grateful for their sacrifice to provide nourishment to my family and others. I give them a good life for the time they are here on the farm, and when it’s time for harvest we take it very seriously and reverently.

      I am fortunate enough to have had this kind of experience myself but I know that, sadly, most people have no opportunity for this context, and would never understand. Perhaps they have no basis in reality.

  3. In the Buddhist tradition, one may eat the meat of an animal so long as one is aware that the animal was not killed on one’s behalf. The spiritually more advanced individuals will mentally bless the animal as they eat its meat and help that animal’s soul evolve to a higher level of existence/species (even human) in its next reincarnation.

  4. Thank you Sally for this wonderful article. Chills went down my spine while reading it. I taste the difference – especially eating the livers from happy and healthy and humanely treated animals vs. those confined and stressed – USDA facilility processed ones. It’s sweet and pure taste vs bitter and lack of essence – is very profound! I pray for our future to further enjoy nourishing and health giving foods – how God intended us to enjoy it – not adulterated and absurdly put down in the worst way!

    Your article is very inspiring and I feel the power of health and happiness when I focus on both – eating happy flesh only enough to sustain my own and be grateful for an animal who was ready for that sacrifice and who was honored for it! 🤗

  5. A very touching story. A little hard to believe the animals choice to submit, but I’d like to believe it. Must experiment with this on our (relatively new) little farm.
    From a long time fan of Nourishing Traditions.

  6. A very touching account of how we can honor and appreciate the animals that nourish our bodies with their bodies.
    As a 30 year Vegan, it was very hard to transition to partaking of animal products for my health. I truly began to feel better in the first days of consuming small amounts of their offerings, organic and pasture raised if possible. These stories from small farmers and indigenous cultures lends understanding and acceptance that life is so very interdependent on all other life for its’ existence. “The Vegetarian Myth,” by Lierre Keith, 2009, explains these concepts supported by biological science.
    Deepest gratitudes to the small farmers, indigenous cultures, and Sally Fallon for sharing these stories.

  7. This was so cool, I have had to slaughter critters before, never found it pleasant but am able to do it, Why I am not a big fan of Hunting any more, I really do not enjoy Killing things, even though I usually am the one who personally puts down our Pets when need be. But I did find these story’s about critters making the ultimate sacrifice, to benefit those who have cared for them and in a way loved them, very Inspiring! Glad to have come across your blog, I look forward to your posts! Now I am off to have a steak!

  8. Thank you, Sally, for writing on this subject. The local food co-op newsletter “Vegan Corner” is always making judgemental edicts about any consumption or use of meat products. I wish I could write a counter article to ask why they don’t think of the screaming carrots being crushed through the teeth of a juicer, or the tomatoes ripped off the umbilical chord of its Mother vine? Did they ask and bless it beforehand? We should talk about “The Secret Life of Plants”! I don’t know why vegans don’t compare life with life! It is all alive and filled with consciousness in every cell, plant or animal.

    I had an amazing experience with our Muscovy ducks. A Mama hid her nest and hatched out so many ducklings that soon we had over 30 ducks! We learned quickly from a friend how to do our own butchering, and after reading about the aborigines of long ago thanking and blessing the animals they ate, I did the same. I decided to give the ducks a “suggestion” of what their Spirits could be, something to look forward to in their next embodiment, that this was not an ending, but a moving-on to the next evolutionary experience. We held them, and I said, “Thank you for coming to be our food. Fly free of this body and go and BE a Canadian Goose!”. As I said this, I held a clear picture in my mind of a Canadian goose. Well, 2 years later, in Spring, there were 2 adult Canadian geese with their newly hatched seven goslings that walked up from the back pasture into our barnyard! They made their way into our back yard and raised their goslings with our remaining ducks! Guess who was top of the ‘pecking order’ for eating the duck food? The geese, of course! They took their babies into the duck’s wading pool for a swim every day. They knew their way around, and they were not afraid of us!

    Later in the Summer, when the babies were quite grown and all feathered out, ready for flying lessons, the two parents took them to the back pasture every morning by 8:00 AM. One parent stayed on the ground honking while the other parent took the seven up to fly and circle around the farm. They honked back and forth seemingly to learn aerial navigation! The young ones had to do running landings on the pasture, but after ten days or more, I knew they were ready to leave. Then, I saw all nine of them flying in the sky circling the farm, and they were gone. It never happened before, and it never happened after that. I am convinced those geese were our ducks coming back to let us know that it worked! They were no longer domesticated ducks. I’d say they were happy, they were free, and they were off on a new adventure in life!

    Animal Spirits come into flesh and leave easily. The ducks taught me there is no judgement. It is not cruelty. To this day, even if I have to smush a bug, I give it a thought to become something greater, especially to be a butterfly or a honey bee. In this way, we are all tied into ongoing life. It is not endings. It is shared love. Even the bugs, the ants, the hornets are miraculous in their creation of life. It is love and respect for the Spirit that counts, even the Consciousness of a tomato before it is pureed. The Spirit never dies.

    We still have some of our ducks vacuumed sealed in our freezer, and they are delectable. Maybe it’s the shared consciousness that makes them so delicious! I still love them.

    I am so grateful, Sally, for all your life’s work! It is wonderful to feel so supported in this wise and ancient way for human beings to be healthy!


  9. And all of this is a type and shadow of the One who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up His earthly life so that we could live an eternal life with Him. This is beautiful to me. As I age, I see more and more that the Creator has given us so many earthly examples in the physical realm that make all of the heavenly examples in the spiritual realm easier to understand and grasp. It really can be summed up by expressing it like this, “In order for something to live, something else has to die.”

  10. This article has been such a blessing. I truly must understand the source of our life and our animals is in the hands of God and yes we need to verbal speak to the other creation and give thanks for its beauty, sustainence and love as we all serve one another. I believe your message was sent to us to honor the old ways and remember God the most high and his Son Jesus Christ have given us all that is precious in life.

  11. Thank you so much for this article! It opened up a new perspective for me.

    I wanted to share a another perspective that i was reading the other day. It is asked sometimes, if Allah or God is so merciful, why does He allow slaughtering other animals? Wouldn’t that be opposite to His mercy and also opposite to the same fragment of mercy that lives inside us that tells us that slaughtering is inhumane?

    In truth, God has many attributes such as being Merciful, Gracious, Kind, Just, Wise etc. The attribute of mercy is just one attribute.

    In the case of a rapist or murderer, God’s justice may eclipse God’s mercy, in which case instead of pardoning that person (mercy), God may choose to enact revenge on behalf of the victim (justice). But maybe if God forgives him, then His mercy would have taken precedence over His justice. However, all this is done in the infinite wisdom of the Lord. With God, there is no absolute mercy i.e being merciful under all circumstances. In this case, the animal is fulfilling the purpose for which it was created.

    We don’t know what are the REAL reasons why God made this system in which humans, animals and everything else is totally interdependent on each another. God knows best.

  12. I have a similar story about a chicken. It was the first year my husband and I raised our own meat birds. It was butchering time. Hubby was on slaughter duty, I was the plucker. He was grabbing birds as he was ready and I had gone over to ask him a question. As I was leaving, he asked if I could bring him the next bird. This was my first time experiencing slaughter and I was upset about the process. Unsure how I felt about the whole thing. I gave myself a little pep talk as I headed to the coop. I walked into the coop and picked up a chicken that immediately began squawking and flapping her wings. I just said “It’s time to fulfill your lifes purpose.” and the bird stopped moving and making noise, turned it’s head to it’s side and just looked at me. It was calm from there forward as I carried it over to my husband. It knew. Like that dairy cow in your post above. Thank you for this blog.

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