Thursday, 7 June 2012


BANG! The starting pistol fired, '”And they're off”, the commentator dryly stated. The resounding crack took me back to a televised scene about shooting unwanted livestock. Male calves to be precise. These animals, shot soon after birth, were described as a waste product. No form of slaughter, in my eyes, is humane, but it was done as quickly as possible. I didn't turn over as most people do and choose not to acquaint myself with this fact of farm life. The reality is British veal is a meat that doesn't make it from the shed to a field or even a plate. Why is this? How can we justify this needless killing when this meat could be eaten?

The market for veal in the UK is apparently limited, yet there must be some demand as supermarkets import it. The European welfare standards for rearing male calves is frankly appalling. It's akin to keeping a group of fair-skinned people hostage. Daylight shut out to keep their naked flesh pink and unblemished. This comparison may seem barbaric, but perhaps if I explain my reasoning behind it you'll see it's not. I view all beings as equal, so if we're prepared for other sentient beings to be raised in this way, then we shouldn't mind the same treatment applied to us. The manner in which this young flesh is raised breaches our code of ethics. Most polled consumers find this method distasteful. In Britain, it's illegal for male calves to be chained up and kept in the dark. Reared here, calves have more freedom, but as this detail is not highlighted this source of food gets wasted.

My stance on this, compared to other veggies, may be unusual, but I dislike anything being thoughtlessly discarded. Vegetarianism won't halt meat production. It's a lifestyle choice I made for myself, I won't oppose another person's right to eat meat because of it. In this context, I'd rather animals were used for food than disposed like household garbage. I'm of the view consumers shouldn't have the option of economy vs. free-range. All animals should be reared free-range! If people support better animal welfare, they should be prepared for this to be reflected in the cost. Meat needs to be perceived as a luxury – it's a life sacrificed for us to eat.