Lazily, I opened my eyes the morning of the Big Day. Sun pouring in from the window above my bed, I felt a wave of energy surrounding the impending events.
How do you dress for a pig slaughter?
That was the question I pondered as I slowly— still in the fog of my dream-state— brought my feet to touch the cool tiles of my bedroom floor.
Walking through the comfortable house the Program Leaders stay in while studying with the Upland Holistic Development Project, I wonder what questions are behind the immediate one of attire.
What preparation is needed to watch an animal be killed and then have it land on my plate hours later?
What will it be like to be so intimately involved in the process of preparing meat?
How will this inform my thinking around food choices in the future?
I stand at my pack deliberating between my work shirt, a long-sleeve button down certain to increase discomfort with the thick Thai heat, and a simple cotton tee. Standing there, I note that there is more to this question than what blouse to bloody. It is one of emotional preparation as I wonder at what I need to ‘put on’ internally.
In all reality, I don’t particularly care to participate in this process. Yet, as a— albeit reluctant— meat-eater, I feel obliged to do so. While hyperbolic to be sure, it feels as if I am paying homage to all the animals I’ve consumed in my lifetime. To be willing to eat meat, I reckon, necessitates a willingness to watch what it takes for me to make such a choice.
The question of dress, then, is also a question of respect. How do I wear the sacredness of this exchange?
Remembering my objection to the notion of Sunday-best, I swing toward practicality. I go with work pants. Black. Waterproof. Durable. A light blue T-shirt. Comfortable. Modest. Understated for the enormity of the event in my mind.
Once there, I become aware of all the things I didn’t think of when getting dressed. Earplugs for the initial blows that inspired squeals of protest still echoing in my mind. A splatter mask for when the blood met my cheek as I leaned low to stretch a leg back while a student hacked at the hipbone. Would gloves have concealed the meat’s warmth while I cut off the skin?
This forgotten armor would still neglect to protect me from the true cause of my squeamishness: a day connected to my food source.
Untying the laces of my shoes upon returning from the slaughter, I think of how many trips to the grocery store I’ve taken without pondering the question of apparel. How many times have I walked down the aisles carelessly donning sweatpants or still sporting my dance shoes? Wearing the casualness of a life separated from the production of food.
It seems fitting that today’s outfit required more thought. It seems that, in reality, so does my food.