A Canadian farmer faced a backlash after revealing goats from her dairy farm would be sold as meat.
Flory Sanderson from Prince Edward Island posted the news on Facebook – only to be flooded with irate comments – which were later picked up by various media outlets.
Sanderson took again to Facebook to defend herself. She apologized, but said it had been her intention since opening the farm four years ago, to sell the animals as meat.
She added: “I raise good quality dairy and meat goats. Educating all my visitors. I treat all my animals humanely and with great care.
“Our farm has a purpose, they are dairy, pets, and a very small percentage have been sold for meat.
“This is based on demand only. It is responsible farming. If anyone has any questions, please contact me.
“I am sadden by some of the cruel comments. I am a modern day farmer [sic].”
Sanderson’s post fiercely split opinion with some supporting her position.
Facebook user Jeana MacIsaac wrote: “I am a vegan. I support Florence Sanderson 100 percent. She is kind to her animals, respects the plant and loves what she does.”
Sheryl Fleming added: “Animals on a small farm are probably treated way better than ones in an industrial farm.
“Anyone who eats meat has no business criticizing this woman.”
But others disagreed.
Nigel S. Fee said: “People don’t need to eat meat or dairy. I have been vegan for more than two years and I am doing just fine.
“I support the local protest against this so called ‘Petting Zoo’!”
Melanie MacKarney added: “People are upset by this because they know it is wrong to kill animals unnecessarily.
“Once a meat eater has categorized an animal as a ‘friend’ it can never become ‘food’. If it does become “food” it is to the great distress of the meat eater.”
‘Friend’ or ‘Food’
This idea of speciesism – where some species are given more moral consideration than others – is highlighted by the Island Hill Farm story.
If Island Hill were a dog farm, outrage would ensue.
Commenter Bill Wilson said: “Just because WE designate certain animals in different categories to meet OUR desires doesn’t mean that animals like goats differ in any meaningful way from dogs in their capacity to suffer, feel joy, etc.”
This story also brings up questions of whether quality of life is relevant when it comes to an animal’s death.
Is it more ethical to hurt someone if they’ve led a pleasant life?
In the event of human-on-human violence, the quality of a victim’s life has no bearing on whether the act is deemed ethical.
So why is it any different for animals?
Ultimately, all farms rely on exploitation to turn a profit, but should it ever be okay to hurt someone in the name of financial gain?
If a farm like Sanderson’s is compared to a factory farm, it will appear more ethical – but we could avoid killing altogether by not eating animals.