A primary school in the UK has been embroiled in controversy over its plan to slaughter two young pigs in an effort to educate children about where meat comes from.
Reportedly, pupils at the Farsley Farfield Primary school near the English city of Leeds have been helping to feed and raise the small group of pigs in a makeshift farmyard on the school's premises in preparation for the slaughter.
The school's headteacher, Peter Harris, has written in defence of the project in a blog on Farfield's website, saying that: "through keeping the pigs, the children will learn more about the provenance of their food and issues around animal welfare. We will be investing in information boards for outside the enclosure. The pigs will not be pets and will only be with us for nine months. The pigs will have a life twice as long as modern commercially-reared breeds and will have a truly free-range life."
"We are getting criticised by some vegetarians/vegans and, at the same time, by some meat eaters who think that the project is a veggie-conspiracy. I hope that our children have an educated view and make informed, balanced decisions when they are adults." he added.
Why is this a problem? It is a fact of life. Don't be a snowflake. Less than 100 years ago every allotment had a pig slaughtered and shared with neighbours. Children helped and stirred the blood for black pudding. Meat does not come on a tray wrapped in cling film.— Helen Grierson (@HelenGrierson2) 28 April 2019
However, angry critics have blasted the school's programme.
A petition launched by a former pupil at the school, which has so far garnered about 2,200 signatures, states that, "my main concerns are with the well-being of these pigs who don't deserve to die, and the message that we will be teaching the children at Farsley Farfield that it is OK to exploit and kill animals with the only justification being that people enjoy eating their bodies."
On the school's blog, a number of angry parents have also made their views known. One critic who slammed the decision as "disgraceful" wrote, "why not teach the children to show compassion? All lives matter. How can you let the children engage and become attached to the animals, then after a very short life span kill them?"
As a kid of 8 years old I went with my neighbour (livestock haulage) to farms & slaughter houses. I watched pigs, sheep & cows professionally killed then prepared into the required joints etc. I would go home, shower & sit down to a lovely roast dinner, I will always love meat!— John.franklin_in_myland (@in_myland) 28 April 2019
Another said that they thought the decision was "totally wrong," elaborating that, "if my daughter came to this school she would be traumatised at the thought of animals which she had grown fond of and seen on a regular basis being slaughtered for food. It would be like eating your pet dog!"
Yet, in contrast, there were also declarations of support, with one advocate writing, "really love the idea of teaching kids about life cycles and animal welfare in the real world, not just in books. Welcome little piggies!"
What utter rubbish is this? Slaughtering a pet? To teach children pets are to be eaten? Bring them to an abattoir to show them where meat is from or a farm.— KK Soh (@Hoskk) 29 April 2019
It is estimated that the UK farms about 10.6 million pigs per year, most of which are reared on densely populated battery farms. Frequent protests take place in the country over what some animal rights campaigners view as the harsh treatment of the animals, including the widespread practice of gassing them in groups instead of killing them individually for cost-saving purposes.
In response to the wave of criticism, Mr Harris wrote that, "I don't think that we are desensitising the children, I suggest that our children will be more knowledgeable and sensitive to animal welfare than most of their peers."
That actually gives a very wrong message and distorts reality. Instead children and adults should be taken to the huge slaughterhouse meat farm/factories which would highlight the repugnant mass production of meat.— Mark wm Oliver (@Mwmoliver) 28 April 2019