I’ve been vaguely thinking about Kerry McCarthy.
Meat should be treated like tobacco with a public campaign to stop people eating it, Jeremy Corbyn’s new vegan shadow farming minister has suggested…
In an interview with Viva!life, a magazine for vegans, she admitted she was a “militant” when it came to clamping down on meat consumption.
She said: “I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it.
“Progress on animal welfare is being made at EU level… but in the end it comes down to not eating meat or dairy.
“The constant challenging of the environmental impact of livestock farming is making me more and more militant.
This seems to suggest it’s about environmental protection and animal welfare.
I dunno, but it seems to me that about the best protection a plant or animal species can get is to become a human staple food. You’ll get protected from predators and diseases. You’ll get veterinary care. You may even get your own cowsheds or stables. Your numbers will multiply enormously. And you’ll die a very sudden death, rather than a slow, painful, lingering one.
Ms McCarthy told the Post that it was an individual’s choice whether they wanted to eat meat or not.
But she said the point she was trying to make was that people should be aware of the consequences of eating meat – especially if it was processed – where it came from and how it was produced.
She said we do the same with alcohol by pointing out to people the effects of drinking too much and we should be doing more to inform people about meat.
She said: “I am not trying to tell people what they should or shouldn’t eat.
But she is. Or rather, she wants somebody else to tell people what they should or shouldn’t eat. These people always get somebody else to do their dirty work for them.
“But they should know what the risks are without them being swept under the carpet.
“There a lot of sensible scientists and experts out there that there are risks associated with meat, particularly processed, and that is something that shouldn’t be ignored.”
Not about the environment and animal welfare after all. Instead, it’s now about ‘risks’ associated with meat-eating. And once they want to find ‘risks’ they’ll manufacture them just like they manufacture the risks for everything else: like e-cigarettes. They can invent risks overnight.
But actually, I bet her real objection to meat-eating is a moral one. “Meat is murder,” she’d probably say. And you shouldn’t commit murder.
Well, let’s suppose that it is murder. If so, isn’t eating fruits and vegetables murder as well? For they are living things too. And at least we ensure that the animals we eat are dead before we consume them. But we eat many of our plants alive, frequently after chopping them into tiny pieces. And we kill many of the others (e.g. potatoes) by boiling or roasting them alive. It’s worse than murder: it’s torture and murder. It’s like the ancient punishment of hanging, drawing, and quartering.
And what are we to make a natural world in which herbivores are murdering plants, and carnivores are murdering herbivores? Aren’t plants murdering the earth by driving roots into it, and sucking it dry of water? Aren’t they mining it – exploiting it – as efficiently as any coal or gold mine? If humans are to be found guilty of mass murder, shouldn’t the entire natural world be put in the dock beside them?
But murder only entails killing. Most murderers don’t eat their victims. They merely want them dead. One reads from time to time of shipwreck survivors on open boats, killing and eating each other. Courts generally recognise that, if they hadn’t done so, nobody would have survived at all, and don’t treat them as cases of plain murder.
It hasn’t quite happened yet, but it seems to me possible that we could one day mass-produce proteins and fats and sugars and vitamins from carbon, hydrogen, and other elements, to provide ourselves with all the food we need, without relying on plants and animals any more. We could probably even produce synthetic beefsteaks and lamb chops indistinguishable from the real thing. In fact, we could even create exotic new meat products. Anyone for six foot woolly mammoth or brontosaurus steaks?
I’ve argued that slavery died out when we no longer needed slaves, and had largely replaced them with engines. The same will probably happen one day with our plant and animal foods, when they’re replaced by completely synthetic foods. It’ll become a crime to kill and eat a chicken, or to boil a potato. Or to cut flowers.
And then all the farms will close down. And, lacking the human care on which they depend, wheat and potatoes and rice will die out, as will cattle and sheep and pigs. The last sheep will die a century later, torn to pieces and eaten by a wolf pack. And the surface of the the earth will have reverted by then to impenetrable jungle.