The Vegetarian (Livestock) Farmer’s Wife

We are coming to the end of National Vegetarian Week (May 19th-25th). You would automatically think that vegetarianism and living on a livestock farm would not marry right?
*Whispers to the farming community: I have been vegetarian for 23 years. Yes you heard it right.
In those 23 years, I have had one drunken sausage, maybe two drunken burgers and a portion of mackerel when I was pregnant with Boo (because that one portion surely aided brain development).
But why?
Well, when was 11 in 1991 and I started high school, the Body Shop was BIG. We all wore White Musk or Dewberry or, like me, sometimes Fuzzy Peach, and we went and bought cotton school bags like this:


Oh I coveted this bag and more than once it had to be washed because my bottle of White Musk or Dewberry or Fuzzy Peach smashed inside it.
I embraced the Body Shop mantras of not testing on animals. I then sent for a brochure from a charity which showed graphic photos of mice and other pets having horrific experiments being conducted on them for the sake of humans wearing make-up.
A girl I met on the first day of high school was also a vegetarian and I think all of these factors led me to give up meat for good.
At the time, there were few mainstream vegetarians. My mum was worried about it. Both my Nana’s thought I wouldn’t survive without meat. One of them consistently said ‘but you can have chicken? ‘ ‘You can have ham?’
So, to appease them all, I gave up meat for Lent.
I survived the 40 days in the wilderness of meatlessness and, apart from the few blips mentioned above, no meat, fish or chicken has passed these lips.
I am not vegan. I do eat cheese, milk and eggs.
However, after reading a blog post by Michelle Crowther at The Crowther Clan, it got me thinking why? Why do I no longer eat meat?
While Michelle is so convincing in her conviction to avoid meat and bring her family up vegetarian, I feel I am not so sure.
My husband is the world’s number one carnivore. If a meal doesn’t contain meat, it’s not a meal in his book and my three-year-old eats meat.
I prepare meat for them to eat (I hate touching raw chickens but I manage). I have resorted to gloves in the past but I am quite clever now with packaging and spoons to get meat from the packaging to the pan or dish.
If someone asks me why am I vegetarian, I usually reply with a garbled excuse about the ‘Body Shop phase’ which I just never grew out of.
You see, if I was vegetarian because I didn’t agree with the way animals were farmed, I would have no argument with the meat that we rear. They are treated very well indeed and, with me as the Farmer’s Wife, probably petted too much.
Do I chain myself to the livestock wagon when Hubster goes to the abattoir or market? No, because I know it is our livelihood.
It seems my life is a series of contradictions.
None more so than the fact that I am thinking of attending a lamb butchery course. Yes really.
You see, when we get lambs back from the abattoir and we have to bag them up for the freezer, they haven’t been butchered as such. We don’t get cutlets or lamb shanks and, to be honest, I wouldn’t know my shank or my scrag-end if you put it in front of me. Hence the reasoning behind the course.
I also feel slightly ashamed to be a vegetarian farmer’s wife. I totally support British farmers but I can’t bring myself to eat some of their produce.
I see how hard farmers toil-especially during lambing and calving yet I still can’t bring myself to taste the fruits of their labour.
I do love animals though.

When I think of the tears I have shed when our chickens were killed by foxes. The TLC I gave to Minty when he was the runt and not expected to make it, I suppose you can see I am just big softy when it comes to animals
While I never expected this post to find out my reasoning behind being vegetarian, it has made me realise one thing.
If I were ever to eat meat again, I would eat the meat reared on our farm because I know they have led happy lives and have not been mistreated.
Farming gets a bad wrap a lot of the time.
Most farmer’s love animals too-even though they kill their livestock. It is their livelihood, their job, their vocation. I like to use the analogy of an author or a journalist selling their words.
If you get your meat from farms which carry one of these stickers:


They are more likely to have had a happy life and, if I’m honest, a happy death.
For the moment at least, I can still dine out on the fact that I am a vegetarian Farmer’s Wife.

If you want to read an update on this, you can here.


  1. This was a really interesting read. I’ve been veggie myself since I was 5, a phase I never grew out of either! My Mum blames my school teacher who ‘brainwashed’ me.
    I have a mixture of reasons why I don’t eat meat – animal cruelty concerns me, not knowing what goes into meat worries me too, the idea of eating something that used to be a living creature feels wrong to me – I always think of the word ‘flesh’ which creeps me out! If I’ve made it 21 years so far without keeling over then it can’t be that bad a choice!
    My boyfriend is also a massive carnivore, he sometimes eats Quorn too but it’s cool either way. It’s his choice and we never really discuss it because he’s a grown man and can make his own decisions!

    1. oooo flesh *shudders* that freaks me out too. I tried to ‘get’ Hubster with Quorn once. He noticed at once and we had such a row!! Daughter likes both and will leave decision up to her 🙂

  2. This is a really interesting post. My daughter (the eldest) often says that she wants to be a veggie, and I was a veggie when I was 13 (The Bodyshop phase!) But I just went back to what was easy. My husband, like yours is a proper meat-eater, and that’s fine, but it would be hard for me to be veggie. In all honesty I don’t think I have the discipline.
    What I would like though, is for us to eat meat that has been farmed ‘ethically’ with real care and, like you show, love! I know that’s a contradiction as you have mentioned, but I sincerely hate the thought of animals suffering a life of pain, and when I do eat meat from the supermarket, with no idea where it was reared I do feel guilty.
    I think maybe, if it is a cost issue, I would rather eat once a week, and pay more for a decent cut that has been looked after. I have made some lovely veggie meals when I’ve had no meat in, chucked a load of left-over fresh veg in a pan and made a lasagne that tasted better than a mince meat one, so I know it can be done. It’s just a bit of time and effort isn’t it x

  3. Now there’s a memory! Loved the Bodyshop perfumes – I think I still have a Coconut Oil stashed somewhere in the bathroom cabinet! Good for you for sticking with Vegetarianism for so long x

  4. Thank you for writing this article. This is just the sort of thing I’ve been looking for. I have been vegetarian since I was 9 (14 years). There were so many reasons for me, the main one being that I didn’t like the idea of eating an animal and as I’ve gotten older I’ve understood the horrors of factory farming and the environmental benefits of buying local etc. However, at university I met my partner, who is a dairy and beef farmer, we now live on a property on the farm and he will be taking over his family farm. I have been struggling with the massive contradiction of my lifestyle and have had a fair amount of horrid comments from fellow veggies / vegans about it. I think I agree with your idea that it is not eating meat that is the issue, but factory farmed meat or meat which has not been given the opportunity to live a good life. I’d love to talk to you about this sometime, you’re the first vegetarian farmer I’ve come across!

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