A report from my butchering class

As promised, here are a few pics from the butchering class I took with my Dad. It was tons of fun — we learned about all these ‘secret’ cuts of meat no one knows to ask for but which are the tastiest part of the cow; we learned why it’s so important to eat grass-fed organic beef; we learned that you can ask for ground beef made entirely out of ‘chain’, and more.

I’m glad I confronted my meat. Other than the disturbing sound of muscle tearing from muscle (it’s like white noise, but more crackly), nothing really grossed me out. Certainly, it didn’t make me want to be vegetarian again, but instead gave me a new appreciation not only for the hamburgers I consume but the people — I might even say artists — who prepare them.

So, here are some snapshots:


This is the knee bone, out of its socket. You can tell this is healthy beef because the layer of fat (bottom left-hand side) is firm and white.


This is Ryan, our instructor (isn’t he a cutie?). There’s one stage of the butchering process that requires a hacksaw (pretty much the best stage).


Here, he’s explaining something I can’t remember, but it looks like he’s about to start playing a really meaty cello!


Eew, sick! (But what came off of it was yummy)


These bins are for ground beef (left), trimmings, which are essentially fat and waste (middle), and bones, which are used for broth (right)


This is me, posing with a lovely carcass in the meat locker.


35 Responses to A report from my butchering class

  1. Hellcat13 says:

    Blah. (not you, blah 🙂 ) Perhaps I’ve drank too much red wine while preparing dinner, but picture #4 made me all light-headed.

  2. Clair says:

    Not a huge fan of the whole meat thing, but you’re quite the cutie. All of your green changes have not made you any less attractive. 🙂 Your hair looks divine.

  3. May says:

    Super impressive and completely disgusting. I’ve just got to digg it. 😉

  4. caress says:

    ryan kind of looks like brad pitt in the cello shot. who knew.

  5. Meow. says:


    Hey, thanks for the warning.
    I enjoy how you warned Vegetarians not to READ your post about merely going to a class, but then suddenly BAM. A dead animal all hacked to pieces.

  6. just ducky says:

    The cutie butcher is looking at you in the last picture…and he’s not wearing a wedding ring…maybe, just maybe…do you think you could date a butcher? 🙂

  7. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

    Otherwise, it looks yummy! Oh, and the butcher ain’t half bad neither.

  8. gettinggreen says:

    Hahaha… yeah, I could definitely date a butcher, just as long as he didn’t bring his work into the bedroom (wait, that sounded really bad — I just meant I wouldn’t want to embrace someone with bits of bloody cow carcass in their hair and stuff). Also, something tells me it wouldn’t be a good idea to wear a wedding ring while operating heavy butchering machinery and then sticking your hand into a pile of guts and stuff 🙂

  9. hi
    I raise and sell grass fed beef. I meet my customers at the meat processor. There is a big window you can look though and watch them cut the beef up. Can also look in the hanging room. People often bring their kids and make it a family outing.
    Also, it was pointed out to me that the modern term for a butcher is meat cuter.


  10. arduous says:

    Vanessa that is the cutest picture I’ve ever seen of someone posing with a meat carcass. I think that should be your Facebook profile pic. 🙂

    Also, I like Clair, ADORE your hair.

  11. blah says:

    He is a cutie. I guess it’s environmentally friendly that he doesn’t shave his beard right? 🙂

    Anyways, congrats on this class. If you can’t confront it, you don’t deserve to eat it.

  12. arduous says:

    Ooops. That should read that like clair, I adore your hair. I also probably would like clair, but I don’t actually know her. 😉

  13. Esme says:

    Wow. The pics brought back childhood memories of my dad bringing home freshly killed chickens for dinner from his friend who had a small family farm. We’d get the (for a kid) awesomely gross job of plucking and gutting them. If you found an egg or 2 inside it was a bonus! I wont mention the silly things one can do with a chicken larynx.

  14. gettinggreen says:

    🙂 Thanks for the compliments on the hair, guys! It was seriously about three days unwashed at that point… and yeah, my friend was just telling me tonight how beards are all the rage. As long as they’re not, like, three-inch-thick beards, I guess I’m all right with that…?

    Also, Esme — you’ve gotta be kidding me. A bonus if you found an egg inside a dead chicken??? Sickatating! Omg, I’d totally faint.

  15. Chile says:

    Yikes. If I wasn’t vegan before seeing this, I would have become one on the spot. As Meow said, a “Pictures follow” warning woulda been nice. :-}~~~ (That’s me throwing up…)

  16. blah says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a hard time trying to find the gross out factor in all of this ( however the egg in the dead chicken thing would sort of gross me out). You’re not dealing with a lot of blood, or anything in here, just bone and muscle tissue. But, I guess if I were offended at the whole idea of killing animals, I would be.

  17. blah says:

    When I was little, I used to be terrified of men with any facial hair….Santa could stay in the North Pole and just mail me my presents, thanks. However, now I tend to like it. I love the way my boyfriend looks with about 4 or 5 days of scruff on him.

  18. sillydoggies says:

    That is super cool. Ryan, the instructor, resembles Ryan Reynolds a bit. Made me do a double take.

  19. Stephanie says:

    ditto on the warning request… yikes!

    i read this blog in google reader, and amidst all the peace-love-greenliving stuff, there were your pictures of a dead bloody cow!

    please link these kinds of images next time… or at least throw out a huge warning to all the vegetarians who might be reading. thanks!

  20. gettinggreen says:

    OK, OK, I promise next time I’ll warn you all… although, like blah, I didn’t find the images much more disturbing than a slab of porterhouse steak or raw chicken or any other meat, per se. Just more bones and cartilege left on. Also, not to worry, I don’t think I’ll be posting any gory pics on this blog anytime soon… for the most part, it’ll probably just be wind turbines and dual-flush toilets…

  21. Awesome again! Very informative, and hopefully the meat cutter (or, as Melvin’s comment charmingly typo-ed — I think) “meat cuter” will read the rave comments and call you up for follow-up meat lessons. 😉 Or at least get a great blast of self-esteem.

  22. Jim says:

    Could you explain what “chain” is (regarding the ground beef comment)? I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing!

  23. […] be doing the work myself. If you want to see some shots of doing the actual work, check out Green as a Thistle’s post on the subject (and per her readers’ request, *caution* if you are disturbed by raw […]

  24. Dan says:


    Just came across your blog and am perusing your entries.

    I’d really like to throw in my two cents if you don’t mind….

    I just don’t see how you can go for a step-a-day towards “going green” and still promote eating meat. Organically raised, grass-fed – it doesn’t change the fact that you’re choosing a very “green UNfriendly” diet. I don’t want to be one of those folks who spreads the guilt, but unless you have a condition that prevents you from giving up meat, it’s just as much a wasteful nicety as driving a car that guzzles gas. I just don’t see the justification and it really takes away from the poignancy of your efforts. In your first post about taking your meat class, you toss the factors of wasted water and grain aside without a second thought. I would really like to hear how you justify that…

    Not to attack you personally but if your goal is to live a greener life and promote it to your readers, this particular step seems more detrimental than helpful.

    I try not to be one that tells others how to live their lives…I’m just commenting on your mission of living green.

    Other than that, your blog is entertaining and filled with great tips for people to follow. Keep it up and good luck.

  25. […] process of making your own food, whether it’s growing your own vegetables or learning how to butcher a cow. (Warning: the cow butchering link contains graphic pictures of dead animals, although I must […]

  26. Nick says:

    Awesome post -great pics
    where was the class held at?

  27. Eddie says:

    i am in the mississauga area and i wanted to go to a butchering class too. and i was wondering if you could tell me where you went to take your butchering classes and it you could give me there contact info

  28. […] insights onto mundane green topics.  I think I initially found her blog when she posted about a butchering class, complete with really interesting but graphic photographs that apparently scarred her vegetarian […]

  29. Evangeline says:

    I wonder how many positive comments are here…to enjoy class like that..I am sorry, I do not get it somehow. I like the blog and the whole concept, but this was a shock for me a bit – I do not see any respect and any link to getting green in cutting dead animal´s body like it was some ..baking a cake…

    PS: I don´t want to be unpleasant or something similar, I just felt the need to express my thoughts.

  30. Jasmine says:


    I’m very interested in taking a class like you took. How do I find a class to do that? Please e-mail me at princesssmeen@yahoo.com


  31. Hawkspur says:

    Interesting notes. Just a couple of points though:
    White fat does not indicate a healthier cattlebeast. It is whiter because it is not grass-fed. Grass-fed beef has creamy yellow fat from the high levels of beta carotene, which is a good thing. Firm fat, however, is good because it hasn’t begun to break down.
    And the beast you were butchering was probably not a cow. It may have been if it was a cull, but the majority of cattlebeasts killed for beef are steers.

  32. Alise says:

    Incredible life changing speech for anyone who cares to make this world a better place.

  33. Alise says:

    This is the speech Part 1

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