Bebelibe interviewees explained that a family homestead without animals is incomplete, and to deprive a family of animals is to deprive them of non-monetary abundance; animals are essential for their families’ wellbeing. In spite of this, people sometimes need to kill and eat their family animals for their wellbeing to be maintained. In this chapter, I explore when and why they do so, notably the role of sacrifice and social consumption for maintaining relationships, and the need to legitimise and authorise killing animals at both the mundane and sacred level.
Living in an increasingly commodified world, where market forces come into play and people now need to pay for most goods and services, means that they also assess their family animals’ worth in terms of money. I examine the impact of commodification on people’s relationships with animals and meat-eating, and how their animals’ worth moves between non-monetary abundance and monetary wealth, depending on the family’s needs at a given moment.
I discuss how people perceive the commercialised meat market and the dilemmas that commercial butchers deal with as they face the inherent dangers of killing too many animals without just cause, whilst needing to make a living.