Khaiti French, Wisconsin
Eating (literally) off the farm allows a former vegan to become a humaneitarian
Choosing to be a humaneitarian by only eating meat from animals that I raise comes from a seemingly contradictory stance: I LOVE animals. Initially, I took this feeling in what many would see as the natural direction–I became a vegetarian for 16 years, and 6 of those a vegan. I wanted nothing to do with the misery and horribly inhumane deaths of creatures I saw in the large scale agricultural systems, and I thank PETA for exposing me to that reality.
I ended up working at the natural food co-op where I was buying my tofu and kale. It was there that things began to change a bit in my mind. Co-ops work directly with farmers, and seeing these farmers come through the back door with the foods they had raised, smiling with proud looks on their faces, telling tales of their farm life, I felt a nostalgia kindling up in me. As a little kid I had been raised on a hobby farm, where my “back to the land” mom raised much of the food our family ate, including goats and chickens. This was part of the reason I had become a vegetarian actually– when I found out my mom had named all the boy goats “Hamburger.” While the farmers I encountered at the Co-op didn’t make me think “Hey, I want to raise animals to eat,” they did give me reason to ponder why my mom had chosen to do that.
A couple years later, still a vegan, I started practicing homesteading on the evenings and weekends, and soon I decided I needed to include some animals to provide fertility to my gardens, and possibly even eggs and homemade dairy products. Self-sufficiency and working with the natural systems of the world were beginning to appeal to me very much, and since I love animals it was an exciting way to incorporate them into my life. I started with goats, and soon chickens and ducks. Then I read a book called The Compassionate Carnivore, written by Catherine Friend. It changed my outlook and my life. I realized that I could do something about the change I wanted to see in the world, by providing an alternative to factory farming. I had been a homesteader on my little 1.8 acres, but suddenly I felt the calling to become a farmer. A farmer raising ethical meat and eggs.
Now, 5 years later, I tend to hundreds of precious beings on our 39-acre farm in western Wisconsin with joy, gratitude and reverence. We raise pastured ducks, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and geese. Seeing animals being able to live good and natural lives outdoors makes my heart sing. To minimize stress to the animals, we slaughter our poultry by hand on-farm with care and respect, and our butcher comes to the farm to harvest our pigs. Our customers support our good work and I thank them so much for completing the cycle of my mission to provide ethically raised animal products. When I go out to eat (which, being a farmer, is pretty much never!) I’m vegan–I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. And besides, the food is never as good as what we can make at home with our amazing homegrown products.
Our farm website is www.ltdfarm.com, and I also blog about my journey, which is constantly evolving, at www.farmerkhaiti.wordpress.com.
[Enjoy this charming video of Khaiti and her husband on their Wisconsin farm!]
VGEF: Episode 1 – Minnesota from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.