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Ethical Slaughter & Butchery

June 19, 2017 @ 8:00 am - June 23, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

Faculty: Mary Lake, with Yadidya Greenberg, Dawood Yasin, Caroline Abels, Alan Goldberg

This course explores ways to safely, ethically, and humanely bring our livestock from the field to the table. The sessions combine presentations, dialog, and debate with observational slaughter and hands-on butchery of several species of livestock. We will explore some traditions that have provided a framework for understanding and carrying out the slaughter of animals to meet our needs, including perspectives from Jewish, Muslim, and Zen Buddhist presenters. Over the course of five days, students will respectfully observe several on-farm slaughters, participate in the butchery of animal carcasses, and engage in lectures and discussion of the ethical questions surrounding our choices to consume meat. Students will learn from a skilled itinerant slaughterer who travels to the farms where animals were raised to do her work, eliminating dislocation and minimizing stress at the end of an animal’s life. We will watch this deeply respectful expert perform solemn tasks, learn about her methods, and hear why she is called to this work. Additionally, this course highlights slaughter and butchery from two major religious traditions, Judaism and Islam. We will spend a day on shechita (kosher slaughter) and Jewish understandings of the human-animal relationship. We will also study halal, Islamic laws pertaining to animal consumption, and differences in halal practices over time and at varying scales. These sessions are designed to give a deeper understanding of faith-based approaches to using animals for human sustenance. Finally, we will attend to the health benefits of ethically raised, grass-fed meat and learn techniques for cooking this good meat well, maximizing both nourishment and enjoyment. We will work with hogs, lambs, poultry, and other livestock from field to freezer.

Level: Beginner to Intermediate.  

Prerequisites: This course is intended for farmers and others interested in processing their own animals for meat, and for consumers who want to know more about the meat they eat and how it gets to their table. It may also appeal to folks engaged in slaughter or butchery who would like to expand their knowledge, delve into the ethics of meat consumption, or explore new markets in kosher and halal processing.

Tuition & Fees: $1250 covers the cost of the instruction, field trips, most course materials, three meals per day from our top-ranked Sterling Kitchen, and ground transportation between class locations. Not included are airport transfers or accommodations; please let us know if we can assist you with finding or providing these.

Housing Availability & Fees: On-campus housing is available for an additional fee of $60 per night with a private bathroom and $50 per night with shared bathroom access. Please note that Sterling College offers rustic, dormitory-style housing that is clean and safe but not luxurious. Availability is limited and room requests are filled on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis.  Please visit our accommodations page for more options.


Need more details before you can register?  Let us know!


June 19, 2017 @ 8:00 am
June 23, 2017 @ 5:00 pm


Sterling College
16 Sterling Dr
Craftsbury Commons, VT 05827 United States