|Image from liverpoolmuseum.org.uk|
Once a much loved Beatrix Potter tale, Benjamin bunny is now more likely to adorn our tables rather than our bookshelves. Mr McGregor with his gun has returned bunny to the pot, along with offal and other discarded cuts, for stews, pies, and all manner of wonderful creations a la Heston Blumenthal. Rabbit is back in vogue as fashion would say. The “Meat Is Murder” vegetarian doctrine surely suggests all slaying is barbaric, but is it? There are some who would disagree. Environmental veggies argue killing for food can be justified, provided it's sustainable and the animals roam free. As this new breed of vegetarianism testifies, should wild meat be considered fair game?
The logic behind such an argument remains unclear. Slaughtering meat not intensively reared could at a push be reasoned as kind to the animals and the environment. It doesn't support or contribute to factory farming – its appalling conditions or environmental impact, but it does condone eating meat as both a human entitlement and a necessity. Isn't this just another form of killing in the name of sport? Yes and no, there is a fundamental difference – the corpse is at least used for food and not stuffed, mounted and displayed for all gentry to admire. That being said, I'm still not persuaded killing and eating wild meat is somehow ecologically or ethically sound. Demand engenders productivity and industrial-scale manufacturing. In layman's terms, plundering our natural resources leads to factory farming and all that it stands for – inhumane conditions and slaughter of animals. The food industry, driven by profit, is literally at like it rabbits with new farms for game popping up all over the place. The fact that any vegetarian could abide by this logic and contribute to it seems both implausible and a little naive.
This abandonment of veggie principles is startling and those that adopt this stance are frankly irritants, like finding a fly in your soup. Is this the reality we now have to confront? A world where vegetarianism is mocked even by our compatriots? I hope not. Giving others the illusion we are weak-willed and easily drawn to the allure of meat is a slap in the face to genuine “full-time” vegetarians and all that we believe. Is authentic vegetarianism dying out? Possibly so. With the advent of new technology in the West and shortages of food elsewhere, humankind has no choice but to adapt and adopt new eating habits. We are in the midst of change, where not even the vegetarian movement is exempt. It might be that “semi” or “mock” vegetarians are both a man-made and natural occurrence.
Should we welcome this change with open arms? I honestly don't know. Being a veggie is like following a faith, and I'm reluctant to let the waters be muddied by those who wish to continue eating meat. I believe we should eat, question and consider, but ultimately it's how you choose to define yourself that counts and not the philosophy of others. In the case of eating bunny, the mantra for me remains: Run rabbit, Run rabbit, Run! Run! Run!