Sunday, 7 May 2017

Meat lovers of the world unite

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Seven Sharp’s roving reporter Tim Wilson ventured out on to the Auckland streets last week offering passers-by a taste of a meat patty that wasn’t made with meat. The responses were mixed, but for those who farm animals for the table it looked ominous. There is even an international school of thought that believes within our lifetime eating meat will disappear altogether and a synthetic substitute will be accepted and may even be compulsory.

Worldwide the number of animals killed each year to satisfy our hunger pangs is about 60 billion chickens,1.5 billion pigs, a billion sheep and goats and 300 million cattle-beasts.

Our pastoral farmers may have to look for new ways to use their arable land; perhaps even now some are thinking of planting Manuka to satisfy the insatiable demands of beekeepers. We might need to encourage the workers in Fiji who cleared all the Manuka and Kanuka to come back and replant it.

And dairy farmers had better watch their P’s and Q’s as well. A Californian company called Perfect Day is marketing “milk” made from fermented yeast to which it adds plant-based sugars, fats and minerals.

The company swears it tastes like cow’s milk.

I can imagine the Greens will be pleading for Perfect Day to open a branch in New Zealand imagining our waterways will return to their once pristine condition.

So will vegetarianism have its day? It’s interesting to note that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian and when his Nazi party came into power in Germany in 1933 it passed and enforced unprecedented laws against cruelty to animals, while actively promoting vegetarianism, conservation and respect for nature.

This was the same regime that practiced unthinkable deeds of cruelty on humans.

So societal trends can ebb and flow over time.

Provocative British journalist Matt Ridley made this salient point in a recent blog. “The computer pioneer and mathematician Alan Turing committed suicide in 1954 after being prosecuted and chemically treated for his illegal (at the time) homosexuality. About a year later Vladimir Nabokov published a book about a middle-aged man’s unusual lust for a very young girl. He shot to fame, wealth and literacy celebrity. Today, paedophilia is even more of a crime and a sin than it was then, homosexuality not at all.”

His point was that one has evolved towards tolerance; the other towards intolerance. He approved of both trends, but wondered if they were inevitable or fortuitous.

There is an aggressive animal welfare lobby in this country concerned at how we treat livestock that are eventually going to be killed and eaten or consume the eggs they lay. There is a growing disapproval of factory farming and opposition to hunting and more emphasis of the ethical treatment of farm animals. Ridley even writes of an organisation in Britain called Crustacean Compassion who is campaigning to add lobsters and crabs to the list of species protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Meanwhile I was pleased to see that most of Auckland’s footpath tasters were unimpressed with the meatless patty.

I closed our butcher’s shop in 1993; terrific foresight, eh?

“I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I’m a vegetarian because I hate plants.” - A. Whitney Brown


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