Meat and seemly


meat-counterMuch to the disdain of my vegetarian friends, I never apologise for the pleasure I derive from consuming food that once lived and roamed the countryside as carefree citizens of the animal kingdom. From time to time I even delight in a little provocative stirring, by averring that animals fulfil their highest purpose by becoming part of the human kingdom when we bipeds eat them. After all don’t the atoms of the mineral kingdom progress to a higher level of existence when absorbed by the vegetable? And don’t plants enter the animal kingdom on being consumed by hungry herbivores? So it would follow, wouldn’t it, that when animals are eaten by human beings they are playing their part in civilisation building?

The Omega-3 oils oozing out of my favourite Marks and Spencers peppered smoked mackerel fillets contribute to the healthy functioning of my brain so I can think and work better. Isn’t that a worthy way for a little fishy to scale down his days and make a contribution to the betterment of the world? Didn’t God create animals so we can eat them?

You are totally entitled to shoot me down now, if you want to, And don’t forget to bring out the pilgrim note from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that the time will come when meat will no longer be eaten, and that our natural diet is that which will grow out of the ground. 

I don’t have a problem with vegetarianism. I like vegetarian food and am known to knock up a pretty mean vegetable chilli sin carne, replacing the beef with aubergines – which can add a wonderfully satisfying texture when cooked properly. On balance, I actually prefer eating fish to any other kind of creature formerly known as living. (As an aside, I have never quite understood why some vegetarians come across all self-righteous and yet, eat fish. Fish were alive too, you know? They have feelings and faces like lambs and cows do, and if anything are funnier to look at which makes them a more useful contributor to human happiness than a bumbling pig or an inept pheasant.)

A decade ago, I tried to be a vegetarian and kept it up for more than a year. But ultimately I failed dismally to find a way to get the minerals and nutrients I evidently needed from the foods I was eating to replace meat. Seeing me tired and miserable, a friend suggested that perhaps I was one of those people who really needs to eat meat. A best-selling self-help book of the time, Eat Right for Your Blood Type helped me feel much better in justifying my carnivorous cravings. I possess blood type O meaning, according to the author Peter J.D’Adamo that I am not only dead common, but I am a natural meat eater. “Type O was the first blood type, the type O ancestral prototype was a canny, aggressive predator.” 

Possessing the oldest kind of blood type, shared with my hunter-gatherer forebears, I should be regularly bolstering my diet, and filling my freezer – the book said – with beef, lamb and buffalo. Unfortunately, Tescos was all out of buffalo when I raced off to stock my trolley. But suddenly, with that licence to chew – ratified by a bona fide medical expert – well, “naturopathic physician” – my body felt that it just couldn’t get enough meat. I would sit at work all morning thinking about lugging back a hearty beef soup at lunchtime. I would while away the afternoons looking forward to a juicy lamb shank, thinking about whether to grill or roast a chicken breast…I was ravenous for the flesh of beasts.

That was then, after depriving myself of meat for a year, and I should say I’ve calmed down a little since. But even now, I sense that I know my body well enough to recognise when it is depleted of one mineral or other. I feel myself craving a steak to replenish my calcium or potassium and I’ll fry one up with onions – with mash on the side – to enhance the culinary pleasure and convince myself of its medicinal benefits.

But there’s a real problem looming. Humanity, I read yesterday in The Times, is more carnivorous today than ever before. In 1965 the average Chinese person ate just 4kg of meat per annum. Today he or she consumes 54kg of meat – that’s over a year I hasten to add, not all in one go – but it’s still a lot. The demand for meat is resulting in animals being treated as a raw material for exploitation – the aim being maximum output and profit. The result: an epidemic outbreak of anxiety about pandemics that will ravage the entire planet.

“As swine flu spreads, and fear spreads faster,” wrote Ben Macintyre in The Times, “it is worth remembering that this, and other animal-to-human viruses, are partly man-made, the outcome of our hunger for cheap meat.”

Scientists are now claiming that viral mutation is directly linked to intensive modern farming techniques designed to maximise production to meet our hunger. Animals packed into confined spaces are contributing to the spread of pathogens, creating new and virulent strains that can be passed on to us. The last bout of avian flu has been traced directly back to huge factory farms. “There is nothing natural about this form of disease,” Macintyre writes, “indeed it stems from an abuse of nature.”

Mr Macintyre’s comments call to mind ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s prescient statement about the engendering of new diseases as a result of human behaviour: “But man hath perversely continued to serve his lustful appetites, and he would not content himself with simple foods. Rather, he prepared for himself food that was compounded of many ingredients, of substances differing one from the other. With this, and with the perpetrating of vile and ignoble acts, his attention was engrossed, and he abandoned the temperance and moderation of a natural way of life. The result was the engendering of diseases both violent and diverse.”

“Today the world is once again under attack from infectious diseases,” writes Ben Macintyre, “The latest plague does not come from God, or from other planets. It does not simply come from infectious animals and rogue microbes. It also comes from Man.”

And that for me, despite my love of lamb and championing of chicken, provides a lot of food for thought.


5 Responses to “Meat and seemly”

  1. 1 Omid

    I too tried the vegetarian thing…A fellow O+ could not last. I have to admit though that eating vegetarian was kind of fun for a while…Some how I felt important =-/

  2. 2 shiva

    I loved reading your post. I too am also type ‘O’ and love meat. The other day as we were driving through Birmingham, we saw a truck packed with sheep. For the size of the truck, there were too many sheep and they could not move. I wondered where the truck was going and then this terrible thought came to me. Lamb shank did not seem nice after this thought.
    Maybe these diseases are there so that we learn to work better with our planet and put more resources into agriculture and grow meat like vegetables. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  3. 3 Sina

    Love the post Rob, as my dad says ‘If meat wasn’t meant to be eaten why is it so tasty?’ 🙂

  4. 4 Bonnie

    I’ve been a pesceterian for about 5 years now but when I was little I earned the nick name “wolfy” after consuming a number of steaks in one sitting…I am considering turning on all the animals again, not just the fish but I’m finding it hard to decide. So I very enthusiastically read this post. An interesting way of thinking about it is would you choose to eat meat if you had to kill the animal yourdelf? Nutritional values aside its important to face up to the reality of what happens, most people wouldn’t kill an animal themselves just for the sake of a tastier, more convinient meal. Its just easier to detached your self when your not the one who has to do it.
    Its crazy that we eat more meat now than we ever have. Crazy.

  5. 5 laylimay

    So many people think i am a vegetarian. I definitely am not. Though your choice of lexis in the saying “I was ravenous for the flesh of beasts.” slightly makes me want to be … Great post though. Modereration is always prefereable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: