Tammi Jones has been a vegetarian for the last 10 years of her life. Little did 49-year old know that eating one beef burger would be a game-changer for her and she would end up opening her own pig farm and becoming a butcher.
There is a big difference between cheating on your vegetarian diet with a nugget or two occasionally and breaking your vegetarianism and becoming a butcher by a profession that too after having a beef burger. Tammi Jones has been a dedicated vegetarian for over a period of 10 years, after reading Peter Singer’s work, Animal Liberation, aged 19.
She said, ‘He detailed the treatment of pigs and poultry in sheds in a way that I just couldn’t, in good conscience, keep eating meat. ‘My immediate response was – I don’t want to participate in treating animals that way and the only way I know how to do that is to stop eating meat.’
Following her vegetarian diet religiously, Tammi gave birth to two kids. But things got difficult during her third pregnancy when she became anemic and she was told that no amount of supplements or vegetables were helping in her case.
‘I was at work one day and just thought: “a burger would fix this”,’ she said.
Little did Tammi knew that, that one decision of eating a burger would be a life-changing game for her. With her being reintroduced to beef, lamb, pork, and poultry, Tammi decided to become a pig farmer and butcher by profession.
‘I never thought it was immoral to take an animal’s life for food – I’ve always been comfortable with my place in the food chain,’ explains Tammi. ‘But I thought it was immoral to treat [animals] cruelly, to not allow them to go outside and breathe fresh air and to be confined in crowds in sheds.’ She also loved working outdoors, after her upbringing – in Oregon in the US – gave her a taste of the farm life, and showed her how to raise livestock.
It was this idea of treating animals rightly that Tammi decided to start her own pig farm. Tammi and her husband Stuart moved to a spot of land in Victoria’s Central Highlands, setting up their new life, and their business, Jonai Farms. Stuart was put in charge of the farm’s infrastructure, and Tammi learned how to butcher the animals from scratch.
Tammi does not slaughter the animals herself, instead, she sends the pigs to an abattoir off-site. She does feel a pang of guilt for this. ‘I think they find all of that stressful and we’d like to take that part of the stress out of our system and be able to walk them to a death they didn’t know was coming,’ the 49-year-old said. ‘I feel the most justified in eating the meat when I know they had no fear, no pain, they were just alive and then they were dead.’