Things to know about sheep

Is there a problem with humans eating mutton?


Well, we sheep are down-to-earth. We know very well that many (most?) of us would never have been born unless we were intended to be eaten some day. As long as humans breed sheep mostly for eating them, there seems to be no chance to keep the number of sheep high than to accept that we are eaten.


What is more, different from cattle, pigs, chicken and others, most of which are raised in factory farming, many of us are allowed to live species-appropriate lives: in small to medium sized flocks roaming around lush pastures, thereby sometimes fulfilling important businesses in landscape maintenance. So, there is not so much suffering on our side as there is for the other animals for slaughter during their lifetimes.


And there is another point to make here. Shepherds will only be willing to maintain sheep breeds that are threatened with extinction if they can expect to find a marked to trade them. So, eating mutton is an indirect contribution to the conservation of race diversity of sheep and thus to the preservation of bio-diversity.


Besides the suggestion to become a vegetarian1 or to establish at least one day per week at which no meat or sausage is eaten2, humans contemplating about a reduction of the number of slaughtered animals can be given one simple recommendation: foodstuff is almost always carrying a "best-before date", after which the articles are considered no longer fit for human consumption and replaced by new ones (for which, in turn, further animals have to die). If you have an eye on articles approaching their best-before date during shopping and buy them a short time before, you can prevent these products from being disposed of. If you use these products for immediate consumption or quick-freeze them for later consumption, they are perfectly fine. In addition to more peace of conscience that you can get by this strategy, most of the time you get these articles for a reduced price, often half of the original one, thereby saving pretty much money.


However, what makes us sheep really sad is to find out that many people go shopping for a supposed bargain, only to drop 40% of what they have bought into the trash can because they don't manage to eat everything before the expiration date. So, please keep in your mind that an animal has given its life for your nutrition.


An especially recommendable book about this topic is Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals"3. WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) has produced an interesting movie about this topic.


1Iris Radisch: Tiere sind auch nur Menschen, Die Zeit 2010 August;33:41-2
2Hilal Sezgin: Donnerstags kein Fleisch, Die Zeit 2010 August;33:43
3Jonathan Safran Foer: Eating Animals, Penguin Books, 2009, ISBN 978-0-241-14393-3

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