At various times in my life I have been vegetarian, sometimes reluctantly through pressure from family members, other times willingly. More recently, I’ve been eating meat occasionally – bacon, pork sausages, chicken and, less often, beef – and always with the magic words organic or free range to lessen any guilt trip.
I’m a guilt-ridden semi-reluctant meat eater. I feel it’s wrong, but I like it.
This week I’m reading A C Grayling’s book Ideas that Matter. It’s his ‘personal dictionary’ of ideas worth knowing about in the 21st century. Each short essay is informative and illuminating.
Grayling is vegetarian and his piece on vegetarianism made me laugh out loud and then re-examine my own attitude to eating meat.
He says there are three arguments why you shouldn’t eat meat. Economic (the weakest argument), health and (strongest argument) morally.
Here’s what he says on health:
…more compelling, is the health argument, which turns on the consideration that meat contains saturated fats and lots of bacteria, and if it non-organically produced then it contains antibiotics, vaccines and growth hormones, which with the fats and (despite the antibiotics) the bacteria find their way into the human mouth as it fulfils its function as a graveyard for the corpses of slaughtered beasts.
…What butchers call ‘fresh meat’ is nothing of the sort, but is in fact carrion, because meat is only soft enough to cut, cook and eat when it has begun to decay. That we eat rotten meat is a fact amazingly disguised in the case of game, hung for extra lengths of time to get even more rotten than other meats. Rotting is effected by millions of bacteria swarming in the meat, their task is to pre-digest it for us by eating it first; the gamey smell of hung venison comes from the excrement of the microbes smeared all over it- everything that eats must excrete, and the meat is both dining room and toilet for the microbes.
…Perhaps you like filling your mouth with rotting flesh full of injected hormones and vaccines, pullulating with microbes and covered in microbe diarrhoea. All these things, plus a carcinogenic finish of heat-damage caused by the cooking process, add up to a tasty morsel, after all, and who can deny it?
Thank you. I think in future I’ll ignore the tempting organically, lovingly, free-range, happy animals descriptions and try again to be a contented vegetarian.