Eating the Whole Animal, Nose to Tail, Is a Sacred Act

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By Dr. Tom Cowan


Among the many amazing things in the world is the fact that doing good for ourselves is often the exact thing that does good for the plants, animals, and the rest of the world around us. For as long as there have been men and women, one of our main occupations has been animal husbandry. Shepherds and goat herders populate all our myths, stories of creation, and tales of how we arrived where we are today. Tending and caring for animals is the quintessential sacred job.

This "job," done properly, tunes you into a world that is alive with meaning, emotion, joy, and sorrow — sometimes all in the same day. No one who takes the tending of animals seriously could ever conceive of senselessly slaughtering animals, using them for lab experiments, or simply not doing everything in their power to care for animals as best they can. Caring for one's animals means understanding the nature of your animals, not some preconception or "scientific" understanding of what is best. Caring for animals is an act of communion; again, it's one of the most sacred acts we can do.  

That is why when it comes time to slaughter our animals, so that we may be nourished, it must be done in the spirit of humility and gratitude. And, this is the key, to use every single part of the animal for our nourishment (or the nourishment of other animals) honors the being and spirit of that animal. All indigenous peoples follow this dictum, all predators in the wild follow this guideline. An animal that sacrifices its life to give us food, to give us life, MUST be honored. They must be eaten nose to tail, including the organs, bones, sinews, and everything else.

In most traditional medical schemes, we find the theory that life is a flow of energy, sometimes called prana or chi, and that this energy is concentrated and emanates from our internal organs, such as the liver, kidney, and heart. It is the same with our animal friends. They are living energy beings also with the energy circulating from and concentrating in their internal organs. Simply put, this is where life concentrates. 

It should be no surprise that the nutrients follow the energy and that the organs would be the most concentrated source of nutrients. Conventional science bears this out, confirming what anyone watching a pride of lions eating an antelope sees. Always, the organs are eaten, never just the meat.  This is the strategy of nourishing ourselves and honoring the sacrifice of our beloved animals. Eating the organs of an animal is a sacred act.  

In our house, we eat liver or some other organ preparation at least once a week. We dry liver and make it into a powder, we feed our kittens ground liver and heart from local pastured cows. We try to remember the sacrifice of animals, and we are grateful that they help us live. We are connecting with the long history of mankind, the shepherd of his flock, humbly tending his amazing animal friends. 

1 comment

  • Cynthia

    Yup. Wasting isn’t right for many reasons and it doesn’t feel right even without all the data that shows the value of every part. We’re so lucky to hear this view. Even luckier to have local conscious farmers and processors who do it right. Thanks a bunch for this article and all the good info.

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