I am a meat eater. I love meat. I am not ashamed to admit that. However, lately it seems that I am having to justify it more and more. After reading a previous feature in The Badger, I feel compelled to defend my choice.
Danish pork is indeed ethically dubious. Danish pigs are kept in very poor conditions such as small pens whereas most British pork is free range; the Red Tractor mark ensures this. So choose British rather than Danish meat to support ethical meat farming. The way the trend is going, British pork may dominate the shelves in the near future, just as free range eggs do at the moment.
The cultivation of crops also has a large carbon footprint. It can even be argued that it is greater due to the chemicals that are used such as pesticides. A nation of vegetarians or vegans would only increase this negative impact. The current level of chemicals that are used in crop cultivation would probably increase as demand would grow.
While many studies have linked processed and red meat such as bacon and beef to terminal illnesses, there have also been studies which have refuted this link. With such inconclusive evidence, it is impossible to say that red meat causes cancer. As with any food, it should be enjoyed in moderation but that doesn’t mean that a cheeky fry up once in a while is going to kill me (hurrah – pass the sausages). I also feel that it is important to stress that lean protein such as fish and poultry has not been linked at all to cancer; only red and processed meat, so if one were concerned, there are healthier options.
As to the notion that eating meat is unnatural for humans, let’s look at our teeth: we have incisors, which are used for cutting food, molars, used for grinding it down so that it can be digested, and canines used for cutting meat. Our mouths are built for the consumption of animal protein. If we compare a human jaw to herbivore’s jaw, a horse for example, we see a lack of canines, but huge incisors. Their mouths are designed to consume plants only as that is what evolution has decided is best for them.
Yet, my greatest argument in favour of meat and the main reason why I eat it is because it tastes nice. Personally, life is too short to cut out the fun things and because I am sensible about the amounts I consume, what danger is there really? If you’re vegetarian or vegan, then I salute you and respect your choice. I ask that in return you respect mine and don’t make me feel guilty for tucking into a burger. You will fail.