Monday, May 9, 2011

Vegetarians in the Workplace

Agriculture’s Story in the Workplace

A friend of mine send me a frantic e-mail on Thursday. Each week her office presents a fun fact at their Friday staff meetings. Pretty cool idea. The Fact is emailed out and then there is the opportunity to discuss it at the end of the meeting. 
One of our cows - Dreamdate

The week’s Fun Fact was May 1-7 is Be Kind to Animal Week. I like weeks like that, I hate animal abuse. I treat both my pets and our cattle with respect and ensure that their needs are being met.

The email went onto say... “According to the Humane Society: There are about 77.5 million owned dogs in the US and 39% of US households own at least 1 dog (*Fact* Black dogs are the last to be adopted in a shelter). There are about 93.6 million owned cats in the US and 33% of households own at least 1 cat. Some things you can to do are: Volunteer to walk a dog at your local animal shelter or humane society, adopt a shelter or rescue animal…”

Great ideas. I think it is really unfortunate when animals end up in shelter because people don’t want them anymore. The Boy adopted his dog Skye from a shelter when he was in college and she is an awesome dog. All good so far.

But then the email said this…

“…or become a vegetarian for the day (Gasp!)! J Whatever you do, show some love to our furry friends!”

Wait a minute becoming a vegetarian is not the answer to Be Kind to Animals Week.  I mean I am pretty sure the dogs in those shelters are not going to be treated any better or worse because you tried vegetarianism.

And yes a lot of vegetarians are going to say that killing animals is cruelty. However, the cattle on my family’s farm and farms across the country, are there for meat purposes. I am going to make sure that our cattle are taken care of to the best of our ability in the meantime.

So what do you do when situations like this arise? Well first realize that everyone is welcome to decide what they will and will not eat. Being a vegetarian is a person choice, just like me eating meat is a personal choice.

Next, realize that this is an excellent opportunity to share personal stories of your family’s own farm or ranch experiences. This was my friend's response:
As a beef cattle producer it has been my families occupation for over 6 generations to properly care for our livestock so that we can provide a healthy and safe product to the consumer. We care that our cattle are raised humanely and treated kindly because that is what our vocation requires of us in order to make a livelihood. Growing up in the cold winters of Montana it was not uncommon that  our houses entry-way would be the evening home for a newborn calf so they could stay warm. It is also the rule that the cattle get breakfast before we do, regardless of how much snow was on the ground…or if it was my Sweet 16th Birthday!  Simply put, our cows and calves depend on us, and farmers and ranchers do whatever it takes to make sure they receive the best care possible.
Supporting local animal shelters like the Stillwater Animal Shelter is a great way to help with the pet population! If you’re interested in making contributions that will directly impact the animals in a shelter, your dollar will go furthest at a local shelter. While the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has heart wrenching commercials on TV., it only spends less than one-half of 1% of its annual budget to assist animal shelters.

The reaction she received. The people in her office said that they agreed with her, and that they even learned something. Have you ever been in a situation like this?


  1. We get all our pets from animal shelters. I just wish I could afford to take them all home.

  2. For a long time, a roommate of mine was a vegetarian. As a meat scientist, you might think it's a bit of an odd pairing. But, I was always understanding of her reasons, but also educated her on as much as I could without pushing. She still doesn't eat much pork, but she started eating meat again while we lived together. And, believe it or not, she "agvocates" far more than I do -- I get messages all the time saying "you'd be so proud, I corrected someone today who was saying something untrue, etc."

    I learned long ago, that being brash or judgmental will get you no where. But, being understanding (but unapologetic for your own beliefs) goes pretty far.

  3. All the time in some college classes. I couldn't believe that people thought it a good idea and doable to keep cattle on leashes. I felt like I was constantly trying to defend and explain the cattle industry.

  4. I was recently in a situation similar to this with a friend (that grew up on a cattle & sheep farm...and her family still raise cattle and sheep to this day), and it was tough to know how to react or what to say. But thank you for sharing this as I do believe it will help in future situations!

  5. I love your post about people thinking about going vegetarian is the answer to all of our problems. It helps me learn what to say back to someone who pushes this opinion on me or anyone around me!



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