Meat or Veg?

There seems to be some small discussion about veganism and how being a vegan might help to save the world. All those nasty emissions from the livestock, you understand.

I suppose I should begin by saying that I’m something of a carnivore. Apart from a brief, four-month stint as a vegetarian nearly ten years ago now (and which I did to see if I could, not because I had ethical considerations or I disliked the taste), I have always eaten meat. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house which had access to regular, good quality beef. If we wanted, and we occasionally did, us kids could find out the name of the animal we were eating.

I also don’t have much patience for the ethical vegetarians who continue to consume dairy products. That’s hardly a friendly industry. Nor for meat-eaters who won’t eat veal but do drink milk.

I am not an advocate for restricted eating. Any restrictions I place on my diet are for the challenge. To see if I can. (This year’s Lenten fast is, frankly, boring. I did it last year. It’s no longer a challenge.) I prefer moderation, as much as possible. The sort of balanced diet that, sadly, isn’t a bar of chocolate in each hand. So I’m not a huge fan of vegetarians and vegans. I also don’t see quite how not eating meat is going to help while we’re all busily driving to shops for out-of-season, non-native fruits, vegetables and nuts and using the blender to make exciting spinach and kale smoothies.

Besides which, I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell need considerably more vegetables to fill me up than I do bits of steak. If the livestock is grass-fed, that’s even better, since it’s eating something which we can’t digest. Growing food specifically to feed the animals seems to me to be a bit of a waste.

However, I do see an argument for eating less meat, although not as a means for reducing methane emissions. While not a luxury, neither should meat be dirt-cheap. It was, after all, not exactly cheap to rear and it took time to get it to your table. Added to that, the farmers producing the meat are trying to make a living. The best way to discourage battery farming is by not buying the products. So skip the processed and the cheap and support local farmers and butchers. If you buy from a supermarket, check their commitment to animal welfare. Buy the best you can afford. So maybe it should be considered a luxury.  

It is, after all, surely better to eat quality meat, rather than unidentifiable flesh pumped full of growth hormones.


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