Monday, January 01, 2007

Leader: In praise of... vegetarianism

The Guardian

What with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's real-meat mincemeat and Nigella Lawson's goose fat, Christmas 2006 seemed at times to be one of the meatiest. A week after the event, many Britons are still recycling the Yuletide bird and pulling the stringy bits from between their teeth. Yet a large minority also eschewed the Christmas flesh-fest in favour of alternatives that have come a long way since the days of textured vegetable protein. Humane meat is now more popular than ever, representing a huge break from the cruelty of the factory farm, but vegetarians still look elsewhere. Ethical doubts about meat date back to Plato. Now environmental concerns are entering the equation too: when it takes 10 kilos of feed to make one of beef, cattle-farming swallows land and all too often forest. Like most human ideas, vegetarianism is rarely applied with perfect logic. Vegetarian Hindus in Kerala justify eating fish by labelling it a type of egg laid by the sea. Vegans object that those who continue to chomp on cheese and eggs collude with an industry that continues to kill animals. It is also true that there are ethical dilemmas about many non-meat foods in the modern world - like the fruit and vegetables flown in from distant continents at the expense of the ozone layer. For all that, vegetarianism confronts ethical questions that a lot of us prefer to ignore. And, on a day when new year's resolutions are being set, it is likely that more people than ever will decide that this seasonal turkey will have been their last.


No comments: