My daughter Amy has quite a Twitter and Instagram following. I don’t “do” either so I was surprised when she mentioned the other day that she is being trolled by a militant vegan…no, really! She often blogs and tweets about food and had mentioned a goat dish she had prepared and posted a photo. This provoked a torrent of abuse and seriously unpleasant images from some character who calls herself Freelee the Banana Girl. The lovely Freelee (aka Leanne Ratcliffe) has a colourful vocabulary and some interesting notions about healthy eating and, if you think I’m making this stuff up, do Google her.
We clearly eat too much meat in developed countries especially processed, fatty, poor quality meat full of antibiotics and nitrites from animals who have been factory farmed. Factory farming has been made possible by cheap oil which has made it cost effective to crowd poor creatures into feed lots and feed them grain-based concentrates instead of grass. This poor quality meat is relatively cheap so we eat far too much of it and the rest ends up in pet food or landfill.
I eat meat. We rear our own poultry, pork and goats on our holding and we eat our own animals. It is hard to eat an animal you are fond of and I am very fond of all our animals but it also makes you very respectful of their welfare and mindful to use every last scrap. I understand that we are very fortunate to be able to rear our own meat and that this is not an option available to everybody. I also realise that pasture fed meat is expensive but it would do us all good to eat less meat.
So, if I care so much about animal welfare, why am I not a vegetarian? Well, the easy answer is that I like meat! The better answer is that I believe vegetarianism is logically inconsistent. Vegetarians eat milk and milk products and eggs. All of these are produced by female animals. However, roughly equal numbers of female and male animals are born. What are we to do with the male animals if we do not eat them?
Veganism, on the other hand, is a logical choice as far as I can see, but it is one I choose not to make although I completely respect it in others (as long as they don’t persecute me or my family on social media!)
Animals are a crucial part of the cycle of fertility on our little farm. They convert grass and scrub into meat, milk and eggs whilst fertilising our land. We have shallow, poor and eroded soil on our holding. Our animals are helping us to rebuild fertility and biomass and will therefore enable us to grow a greater variety and number of plants here which will, in turn, attract a greater variety of insects, helping us to grow biodiversity.