Did you eat bacon for breakfast this morning? Did you? I am surprised. I thought you were a good, kind person who cares about animals and the future of the earth.
Still, you are a meat-lover.
A dirty, dirty carnivore. Yes, that’s a new name for people like you. Maybe you’re sexist and racist and fascist too. I’m sorry, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.
You think I’m joking? Consider it a warning. Ulster fry won’t be seen as a delicious breakfast any time soon. It would be a hate crime against the planet.
Eating meat, drinking alcohol and driving is fast becoming new. It is considered selfish, immoral and highly irresponsible.
Since it’s January—sorry, I mean vegetarian, in which people commit to abstaining from the sinful stuff for an entire month, thus morally purifying themselves—the anti-meat campaign is in full evangelical flux. .
Everyone is buying into it. The papers are full of tips on how to make delicious meat-free meals. “Plant-based” foods are booming, as big corporations smell of fat gain. Vegetarianism is getting busted in a barrage of chia seeds and quinoa.
It seems that society – especially the affluent metropolitan laptop class, who have had the time and inclination to worry about such things – has now accepted that meat is a regrettable indulgence.
Red meat in particular is caused by all those cows, which are piercing the ozone layer with their methane.
Last year, Epicurious, one of the most popular food websites, announced that it would no longer include beef in any new recipes. “We consider this decision not anti-beef, but pro-planetary,” the editors explained. “Our shift is all about sustainability, about not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offenders.”
I’m envisioning a future in which steak, mince and beef joints will line the aisles of supermarkets with horrifying health warnings on display. If you disregard the warnings and somehow sneak there looking for a prohibited ribeye, other buyers will nod their heads and break down with disapproval.
I remember that in one of Nigella Lawson’s early books, she recommended serving roast beef with cauliflower cheese because, she said, she likes the way the blood from the rare beef comes out in the cheesy sauce. That makes it even more delicious.
Now you can’t miss publishing something like this. This is practically obscenity. If the book is still in print, it must be sold as X-rated material in a brown paper cover.
However, being a vegetarian is not necessarily a virtue. Many plant-based products are loaded with salt, fat, sugar, and additives—probably because otherwise they’d taste like wet cardboard. The mysterious entity known as ‘vegan cheese’ is often loaded with carbohydrates, excess of which raises your blood sugar – and widens your midriff.
There are also uniquely unattractive aspects of favorite vegetarian foods. Avocado cultivation has been linked to deforestation, drought and drug cartel operations. Intensive production of cashew nuts – another vegetarian diet – has raised questions about pesticide use, child labor and water pollution.
Despite all this, I don’t have a lot of beef that says anti-beefers.
Yes, factory farming is disgusting and cruel. Yes, the mass production of dirt-cheap meat contributes to climate change and many other troubling issues.
Recent research has found that intensive farming techniques lead to increased use of antibiotics, high animal numbers and low genetic diversity that increase the risk of pathogens jumping from animals to humans, which could lead to new epidemics.
But it’s not as simple as getting rid of farm animals, in some kind of ironic, vegetarian-inspired mass hunt.
It is the nature of farming, and our insatiable demand for mountains of cheap meat, that will have to change – or return to the way it was before. Grass-grazing livestock, which are kept outside throughout the year, actually improves the ability of the soil to store carbon.
Natural grazing, doing what animals love and need to do, not only supports the ecosystem – you’d be amazed at the diversity of insects found in a cow’s pelt – it also means they live longer. Live, live a healthy life, and it benefits us too. So high quality, conventionally reared meat is a big part of the solution to our problems.
Good meat is good for you. Better, in my opinion, than some sort of ultra-processed, chemically enhanced, fungus-based brown stuff that calls itself a ‘meat-free burger’.
I know what to eat. And I feel good about it.