Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Veg Out

Being violently ill during the pre–dawn hours of Monday morning perhaps wasn’t the best start to this week. By late yesterday afternoon, stretched out on the sofa and still feeling utterly ragged, I flicked on the television to watch the BBC News at six o’clock. Even before the main headlines were announced I had flaked out and didn’t come around until The One Show was on, which was unfortunate.

I’d watched the odd edition in the past, usually just to see how much of a gooseberry the studio guest is made to feel, introduced and then virtually ignored as the show rattles through the various human interest stories and other inconsequential nonsense on VT. Sometimes these reports could be quite entertaining but more often than not they turned the magazine programme into something akin to the Daily Mail Lite. I woke to some pinched–faced harpy explaining that she had stopped eating meat to "save the planet". Really?

With the UN climate summit in Copenhagen kicking off we were back to that old chestnut that farmed cattle and the methane they emit is chiefly responsible for global warming. I suppose if I’d been feeling well enough I would have sourced some hard facts to support this theory, but why bother. On screen, a restaurant critic had been roped in to represent the “other side” (i.e. irresponsible meat–eating bastards) and every time he asked her a direct question that would require things like troublesome facts to back up her stream of bullshit the material hurriedly moved on to something else entirely.

A minute or less of the running time touched on how such a drastic measure would affect economies and rural communities, but in the end it boiled down to this notion that we all give up eating any kind of meat so everything can be right with the world and we can live happily every after. So how do we do that exactly? What were the real solutions? Of course none were actually put forward. Instead it was pure ignorant scaremongering from a harpy who, while off beef, looked like she would enjoy life more if she had some available cock.

Poking around the internet for a few brief moments I came across information from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science that revealed western cattle produced 120kg of methane per year, non–western cattle half that, sheep and pigs emitted 8kg and 1.5kg respectively, and, just in case you wanted to know, a human produced 0.12kg. So obviously by comparison cattle were very, very bad. But what about goats or deer, rabbits, ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, ostrich or kangaroo? What about fish? Why a blanket ban, unless it’s just to whip up foolish hysteria?

And if we’re not going to eat beef what do we do with the existing livestock? Leaving them to graze into old age isn’t the best bet if they keep up their burping and farting. So do we destroy the lot? Incineration wouldn’t work for health and safety since they’re obviously stuffed full of a flammable gas. Maybe shot them in the head with a bolt gun and dump them in a ditch. But that’s a real waste of meat, when there are people starving in the world. So maybe, just maybe, we eat them. How does that sound?

And if we work out a workable process to gradually phase out cattle it’s not just beef that has to go but dairy as well. So along with the prime ribeye, that’ll also mean milk, butter, and cheese are also off the menu. Obviously that’s no biggie because there’s goat’s milk, which is actually a more healthy option, unless the goats have to go as well. Can you make cheese from soya milk? Maybe we start milking cats. It may not taste great but that’s what sacrifice is all about, right?

One other thing I found, which I had obviously missed earlier in the year, was this idea for Meat Free Monday, which seems just as pointless. Worse it turned out that this bright idea was backed by the likes of Chris Martin, Sheryl Crow, and Paul–bloody–McCartney. I would only pay attention to Sir Macca if he announced a raffle where the winner gets to pour drain cleaner down his throat while the five runners–up kicked him until his vital organs burst. Harsh perhaps, but deserved.

Maybe there is a real answer to this problem, one that the great brains trust in charge has chosen to overlook. With this real concern of increased farming to feed the growing population, perhaps the answer is we simply resort to cannibalism. It makes as much sense. What I have learnt is that having grown up on two farms, the first beef, the second beef and arable, apparently I’ve played a small part in your impending doom. No need thank me all at once; you’re very welcome.

Anyway, after two days being rather poorly I’m now back on my feet and hungry as hell. So I’m off across to the butchers on the Broadway when it opens to get a nice juicy steak for dinner.


At 4:00 am, Blogger qrter said...

Wouldn't you know it, I've been a vegetarian for about.. 16 years now. Although I never became one because of the climate thing - it was only a relatively minor issue at the time.

It more or less came down to me feeling a bit shit about a living creature having to die because I couldn't think of something else to eat. It was only later on that I found out about the meat industry, which is probably the best reason to decide to stop eating meat (although it's very hard to cut out all industry-related products without becoming a vegan, and that's more than a few steps too far for me), I think.

Concerning the methane thing, I've always been more drawn to the whole "look how much food we have to pump into these animals to produce a little bit of meat" compared to the world hunger thing. Then again, chances are we would rather take the overproduced food and blast it into space then give it to starving nations. We paid for it, fuck you, etc.

(Just to be clear - I've never been an evangelising vegetarian and I never will be. Although I have to say, funny/depressing thing is, the last 10 years or so I've met a lot more evangelising meat eaters. Let's all shut up, you eat your bacon, let me cry in to my salad in peace.)

(I've said 'although' a lot, in this comment.)

At 2:53 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Oh, I’d love a bacon sandwich right now. But being lazy I just had an M&S ham and mustard sandwich.

Fella, I wouldn’t tell you to eat meat the same way I couldn’t expect you to rag on me to just stick to fruit and veg.

My beef (tee-hee!) was that the piece on The One Show was a spectacularly shit piece of reporting. The episode is still on iPlayer I watched it again. When some smug media cunt starts off by declaring, “Eighteen months ago I stopped eating meat to save the planet,” shouldn’t we be allowed, or even required, to repeatedly punch them square in the face?

The silly girl banged on and on about the problem but didn’t offer any answers, sensible or otherwise. It reminded me of the one student demo I where everyone went on about what they didn’t want but didn’t have an alternative system to put in place.

There have been problems since cattle were taken to the Americas in 1493, sheep introduced to Mexico in the 1540s, or – even more devastating – a handful of rabbits were deliberately shipped to Australia in 1859 for game. Almost a century later there were more than 500 million of the bastards. When the restaurant critic asked the silly bint if it would help to shoot all the cows in England she didn’t have an answer.

As for alternative foodstuffs, here’s a piece I just found in Clive Ponting’s A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse if Great Civilizations, published in 1991, (which is on the bookshelf behind me next to Carson’s Silent Spring):

The second major source of greenhouse gases is methane, which has been produced in a number of ways. Because of the need to feed the growing population, there has been, in the last two hundred years, a big increase in the number of paddy fields in south-east Asia and methane is released from the decaying vegetation and manures that sink to the bottom of the paddy fields. Another contributory factor has been the increase in the number of domesticated animals, which all have bacteria in their guts which produce methane as a waste product. Large scale destruction of the tropical forests has also increased the world’s population of the tropical forests that has also increased the world’s population of termites, which feed on decaying wood and which also produce methane as a waste product. The number of paddy fields in the world is increasing at about 0.7 per cent a year while the number of cattle doubled between 1960 and 1980 and is continuing to rise at about 1 per cent a year.

Shouldn’t that get a mention too?

At 8:52 am, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

Just cull the humans...


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