|Image by robpurdie via Flickr|
I know a lot of people get upset at people who have faith, they hate proselytizing. The very worst single belief people though are the ardent vegetarians and associated animal rights folk. Theirs is the one and only true path, they have achieved perfection and nirvana in their views and all others, meat eaters and leather weathers in particular, are unthinking souls lost in the limbo of uncaring and harmful ways. Yet, they can be saved, especially if you bang on about it for long enough.
My views on vegetarianism and its ultra orthodox relative veganism are the same as my views on religion. I am quite happy for you to hold whatever view you want, but once you have stated your view and someone else has stated they are not in agreement you should not persevere with explaining your viewpoint until the cows come home – of their own accord, only if they wish to spend the night in a barn, and not to be cruelly exploited for the purposes of extracting the precious gift that is mother’s milk.
Militant vegetarians always try to claim a moral high ground by continually pointing out the various cruelties involved in meat production. They do so though by always taking the most extreme examples they can find. Whilst engaged in a rather one sided ‘discussion’ recently I was repeatedly informed that if I would only watch a particular YouTube video showing chicken factory workers being cruel to their flock then I would never want to eat chicken again. This is false and fuzzy logic, I have in fact seen the footage in question and what I desire after seeing it is for nasty people to stop being unnecessarily cruel to chickens and using them as footballs. Not for a moment does this sort of thing turn me off from being a meat eater; a ‘lovely roast hen with Yorkshires and gravy’ is still on the menu for me.
If you wanted to show the health and farming benefits of being wholly or partly vegetarianism I would be much more willing to listen. I think the Meat Free Monday movement is quite a decent idea, there are lots of us who should perhaps eat less meat and less extensive and intensive animal rearing would be beneficial in parts of the world. Perhaps the idea could be extended into Fish Only Friday and Tofu Thursday, but only if people want to join in.
I dislike the way some vegetarians try to demonise meat eating, the whole Meat Is Murder moral high ground thinking is rubbish. People are not evil because they enjoy a bacon butty or Big Mac. They might not be particularly well educated about the meat they eat though, so there is always room for education.
People should be allowed to eat meat, meat is wonderful. Last night chef Rob and myself made some slow honey and chilli slow braised belly pork with crackling and it was truly wonderful. As some fundamentalist vegans would have it though, this was the act of two evil men; an innocent animal lost its life just to provide a family with a meal.
I will be quite honest here, and this is the bit that might upset some people. I hold that animals and people are two different things. Animals are not people, they do not have to be accorded the same rights and respect that I would grant to any human. However, I see no reason at all why any food animal should be put to any unnecessary suffering. Beasts farmed for food should live decent lives free from pain and suffering and the killing should be accomplished in the most humane manner possible.
Many of us should perhaps eat less meat, bought from less intensive farming styles. Yorkshire Dales lamb would be an example of a good choice due to its non-intensive farming methods, while artificially fattened beef is less good. Neither of these, nor hardly any other meat choice is evil. The moral high ground claimed by the militant vegetarians is not a high ground at all; they have taken a value judgement and made a decision based on their own moral standards, as I have done. Neither of us stands above the other in moral terms, it only looks that way from your narrow point of view.