Thursday, 23 December 2010

Gobble, Gobble

T'was the day before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Not so in towns and cities up and down the UK, where last minute purchases are being exchanged for cash or credit. Like the turkey awaiting the oven and your dinner plate, Christmas is a time for gobbling. A seasonal abundance of food, drink and good cheer.

Image courtesy of Veg Soc
The turkey, the bird to prize. The ace to trump this banquet of gorge. How will it be served? Basted, stuffed and roasted. What with? Cranberry sauce, gravy, roast potatoes and parsnips – all the usual trimmings? Turkey is to Christmas, what chocolate eggs are to Easter. As a veggie, why should I even be contemplating this? Because it seems to me, the carnivore's choice is ill-considered. As delectable as it might sound, yes I see some of you smacking your lips, is it truly scrumptious to sentence an animal to its untimely death? But it's tradition I hear you cry. Christmas isn't Christmas without this meat-feast for the eye. The carver at the head of the table, chest puffed out with pride.

Why does this explanation not lessen my revolt? For the same reason, people displayed disgust at a story I told many years ago. Chosen for its creativeness, this festive fable was read aloud to an assembly of pupils, parents and teachers. The tale of a turkey, prepped for the plate, but still very much alive. The hungry guests surprised as dinner removed itself from the platter to run round the table. Its attempts to flee made futile by a large carving fork pitched in its back. My childish mind amused at the thought of such lively main course entertainment. Pity the audience did not agree, and with no words left to say, a stony silence prevailed. If Queen Victoria had been present, she would have proclaimed, the audience were not amused. Fictional fun so I thought, but perhaps even in my innocence, I had hit a raw nerve.

Partial to a bit of meat and two veg, why the revulsion? Animals are fattened and slaughtered for your gastric enjoyment. I'm sorry if this is news, but “off with your head!” ensues your pound of flesh. There's no disputing that fact – you act as indirect accessories to the crime, including the dismal conditions animals are subjected to prior to the kill. Uneasy with this notion? Take action - learn an animal's fate from birth to plate. This is not an advertisement for vegetarianism, but a recommendation that carnivores have the full gristly details of what they're carrying through. Whether you remain a carnivore or not is up to you, but I'd rather you did so in full possession of the facts, than just because it's “finger lickin' good”.

For carnivores, it's the taste that counts. How to prep and disguise the flesh so that it bears little resemblance to the animal whence it came. Consumption made all the more easier by its presumed absence of thought and feeling. The truth may be harder to swallow for animals are intelligent, sentient beings just like you and I. Worth showing respect with heads bowed and grace said before the big feed. A thought spared for poor fattened up gobble, gobble – the crowning glory of your Winter feast. With knife and fork in hand, we veggies wish you “A Meaty Christmas” indeed.