Yes, I have a confession to make. I lie to myself. I know deep down that what I am doing is wrong and has horrendous, disgusting and shameful consequences. I behave like the religious, simply close my mind to the truth. That is how I was brought up. That was what my parents thought was right, taught me and which I accepted as normal human behaviour.
I am ashamed to admit it but I eat meat!
I have seen pictures of chicken batteries, the tossing away of male chicks, the crowded inhumane conditions, the brief lives and the eventual mechanised slaughter. They make me feel guilty but I still eat the chicken and eggs off that terrible production line.
In the old days there was an abattoir in Johannesburg near the station and I worked in an office where I could see the cattle trains arrive and see the cows being herded to their deaths and, if the wind blew in my direction, smell the death. I know that if I had to actually see the killing process I would never eat meat again so I simply ignored it and still eat steak.
My father kept chickens, ducks and geese on our property and every now and again one would disappear, caught by the gardener, slaughtered behind the garage, plucked, cooked my mother and served as a special treat for Sunday lunch. I never questioned that until one day the gardener was ill and my father caught a chicken, tied its legs together and commanded me to kill it by chopping off its head with an axe. The memory still haunts me.
The chicken looked up at me from the bloodstained block with an unblinking stare. I closed my eyes, swung and missed, simply nicking the birds neck. It fluttered and struggled, blood spurting from it neck and my father shouting at me to kill it. I swung the axe again and again until the neck was severed but the bird still fluttered and struggled. I fainted.
That Sunday I stilled my conscience and still enjoyed Sunday lunch.
I am a guilt-laden big time hypocrite. I despise people who go hunting defenceless animals for sport (I have been invited by always decline) but happily accept a couple of kilograms of Springbok biltong when the hunters return. I hang it in my garage until it is dry enough to break with the hands and enjoy it with a couple of beers.
I love crispy bacon, crackling, ham, gammon, roast lamb, lamb chops and boerewors on the braai, duck and beef. I ignore and still the twinge of conscience, shutting my mind to the awful truth that many of these animals lived short unpleasant lives and died in horrendous circumstances.
I don't want to know.
It is shameful, really.