Monday, 5 January 2009

Kill it cook it eat it


Tonight sees the first in a new BBC series of Kill It Cook It Eat It – this series features wild game, starting tonight with deerstalking at Balavil.

Will it be any good, and will it show shooting in a positive light? I watched a previous series, and found the presenter's breathless style rather irritating - milking the situation for every last drop of sensationalism as farm animals were slaughtered and butchered in front of a studio audience, who were then invited to eat the results.

Still, there's a lot to be said for getting the public to face the facts about where their food comes from. Shooting has nothing to hide, and stands to benefit when people compare the life and death of a deer, pheasant, etc, with that of a farm reared animal.

We'll just have to wait and see... tonight, 10.30, BBC3.

UPDATE: And the verdict... Brilliant! If you missed it, you can catch it on BBC iPlayer here.

NOTE: If you're only reading this post on the front page, you're missing out on the lively comment thread here.

46 comments:

pet-tacular said...

I was relieved to see it was very well done ... anything that makes you want to swipe the veggie is good editing in my opinion!

I'm on the bunny murdering episode on Wednesday - hope they don't make me look like a sadist bunny killer!

It was a good program to partake in and the estate is superbly managed.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I'm going to try really hard to find time to watch that. Wish someone in America had the huevos to produce a series like this. But we really like to keep out heads in the sand when it comes to the source of our food.

Green Eyes said...

Watching this programme really effected me. It was so saddened to hear people trying to remove themselves from the emotional side of killing animals, talking about being 'proud' to kill their meat and eating it, trying to 'rise to the challenge'to kill. What is there to be proud about taking the life of another living creature? Where is the magnamity and character in overcoming this emotional challenge? I find it dispicable that people are able to come to terms with taking another life... for pleasure, greed, fun, sport or merely the 'challenge'. I urge everyone NOT to try and emotionally disconnect from the animals they eat and really ask themselves what right do we have to take the life of other creatures who are every bit as sentient and as capable of suffering as we are, who are proud and dignified yet are granted no choice? On what moral grounds can we kill for food or anything at all? For us it is not necessity or a matter of urvival, we have so many healthy alternatives to eat. Just becasue we may have the power and ability to kill oes not mean we have the right to do so. This is not a grey area, it is black and white. It is not an area for egotiation or compromise it is a question of absolute unequivocal morality. We do not have the moral right o take another life.

James Marchington said...

Green Eyes, sorry you are too emotionally retarded to understand. Try Snow White. Actually don't - the film is made with gelatin http://www.askcarla.com/answers.asp?QuestionandanswerID=476

Just hide under the duvet - no feathers of course. But synthetic will destroy the environment...

Bugger it, just donate yourself to the worms now before you do any more damage.

smig4373 said...

I watched monday,tuesday and will be sure to watch the rest of series.i think it portrayed our sport in a good light.it didnt leave a bitter taste like so many documentries about the countyside..The work that the estate owners/gamekeepers/shoot managers is so mis-understood,i thought that the program went a long way to show the public that where not a group of "pompess" snobs that just blast everything that moves in the countryside.the work that these estates do and the work of the smaller shoot is paramount to the survival of so much of the british countryside,country side which would otherwise be turned in commercial/sterile farmland or intensive pine forest...the hardcore vegans/vegetarians wont be swayed by any thing we say or do,but i think the vast majority of the public will/should see what where doing.weve nothing to hide...ive read "greens eyes" comments...id imagine from his/her stance on the program that he/she is a non-meat eater...thus condoning the wide scale destruction of the rain forests in south america,1000's probably 1,000,000's of acres of rain forest destroyed to grow soya,a politically correct meat substitute.the same soya that graces the tables of so many "moral" non-meat eaters in this country.they convienietly forget to mention where their fake sausages come from when getting on there moral high horse at the dinner table...countless animals dying in the burning of these irreplacable forests..perhaps vegans/vegartarians should think about that before air'ing ill informed views about things they know nothing about....ive planted more trees(approx 25,000)in the last 4 years and replanted hedgerows and looked after the welfare of every animal on our shoot.from the wren to the fox,id bet my house that theres more wildlife,more wild flowers more natural food on the land i/we look after,than the neighbouring land which is just farmed...green eyes,hope those "delicious" meat alternatives dont leave a nasty taste in your mouth now.my food certainly doesnt.david...

Green Eyes said...

I also am a huge believer in personal choice, self autonomy and individual opinion. I'll do my thing and am happy for you to do your no matter how much we may diverge.However, this 'right' to choose that so much emphasis is placed upon does NOT grant the right to kill another living creature. Sorry, its not about preaching, its not about whinging, its certainly not about fun, pleasure, sport or greed its simply about what is right and wrong. You may well have the power and ability, but this does not equate with the right. This is not a grey area, it is black and white. Nothing absolutely nothing entitles you the 'right' to take the life of another. Simple.

smig4373 said...

pet-tacular....how did you get involved with the program.i would have given my right arm to go and spend some time at an estate like that..the program was great,actually told the truth about the rabbit,and the need to control such a pest.i was surprised to find out that the population was increasing by 2% year on year...a woman in the program suggested that there maybe a more natural way,predation or other natural means...its that head in the sand attitude where up against..which bit of "increaseing by 2% a year" didnt they understand.perhaps they would want myxy to be administed again...then its all done out of sight and they'd be happy....well done pet-tacular.which ever 1 you was,you did the sport proud im sure...david

James Marchington said...

Green Eyes, it's not about 'rights'. We're living in the real world, not the fairyland in your head. Everything we do impacts on the 'natural' world (I'd argue we're a part of that too - termite mound, human building, what's the difference?). It's important we a) face up to the realities of how that works and b) regulate our activities to maintain biodiversity and a sustainable, healthy environment and c) consider the welfare of individual animals as well as populations. It's irresponsible to suggest that we can just turn our backs on all this saying 'we don't have the right'. The result would be environmental disaster.

smig4373 said...

so true james...green eyes,its not about "right"...we have a obligation to maintain our countryside and tradition.where do you think the money comes from to maintain the up keep of vast areas of grouse moor/ancient woodland and all of the wildlife thats associated with these areas.all the money thats generated by shoots and estates goes back in to the up keep of the land.in a time when the economy is in turmoil,government arent going to subsidise these areas of beauty.these areas that people walk on and love so much,they dont look after themselves you know.....looks what happened to the farmers since the badger act came in,i agree.badger baiting is a dispicable thing,but.they had a knee jerk reaction to the problem.and now its the farmers thats paying for that by having there dairy herds slaughtered because of bovine t.b...i know of a farmer thats had his whole herd slaughtered,to see a hardened farmer in tears has the last of his cows is loaded on to a truck,a herd thats been bred for generations on his familys farm.this is the reality of the countryside if we turn our backs on it...i know the powers that be have said theres no link,but we all know there is..who's paying for that?...who's going to look after the land when that farmers out of business,?are you prepared to pay for it?.barratt homes?..no...we give up our time,and our money to look after our countryside for millions of others to enjoy...people focus on the "killing" of animals,like thats the be all and end all..if vermin wasnt dealt with,there would be no animals for the bunny brigade to coo at,no song birds in your garden and nothing but processed food in your cupboard...whats "right" is that we go about it in a responsible way,and treat the countryside with the respect it deserves..i doubt there are many vegartarians giving up there time this weekend to lay a hedge or go and work on a farm for nothing to help the farmer clear some rabbits or pigeons off his land.so his crops not decimated this year....perhaps people should look at the bigger picture....david

vicky payne said...

Green eyes, I respect your opinion, and your life choices. But I can't agree with you. man was designed/evolved to eat meat as part of a balanced diet. Man is not a herbivore though he can survive on a vegetarian diet. In most cases artificial processed protein sources such as quorn, soya etc are needed for good health and these, as has been mentioned, have their own environmental impact. Hunted wild or semi wild meats have a lower impact on the environment than farming grain, veg, meat or milk. Maybe foraging an hunting are the way forward for the greenest of lives? I love animals, but i do not see that stops me from eating them. When I kill a bird with my gun I know I have taken a life, it is a happy and sad sight to see it fold in the air...but I have eaten each bird I have shot. They have been humanely reared, then let to roam free. They are quickly killed, then turned into a wonderful meal. IN the vegan world ther would be no animals....without them there would be a huge change in farming with most land turned over to housing or veg/grain production- the praries that support so little wildlife. Who would manage the partridge? Who would manage the moors? They would simpley disappear as nature was left to her own, or fell under the plough. The deer and rabbit populations would increase threatening the farmland. How would they be managed? Fence them out and watch them starve? Or let them in and let the populous starve? Or kill them and let their bodies rot? The hunter kills enough rabbits and deer to protect his land, and uses the carcasses for food as well. The britsh landscape is not natural; it is the result of years of mixed farming (meat, milk, grain, veg), hunting, shooting. The gravel extraction which produces such ugly scars soon turns into important bodies of water for sport and nature. We can use nature and increasingly understand how to use her without herming her, in some cases helping her- so many shoots plant woodland, recreate wetlands, have wild hedgerows....
Man does have the right to kill and eat animals and in my mind the hunter does this more humanley than most supermarket meat buyers.
Green eyes, before criticising my way of life look closely at your own; do you buy cheap t-shirts produced by slave labour? Is your soya milk from farmland that was once rainforest? Which industrial estate does your quorn grow on? How many food miles have you fruit and veg done? What petrochemicals have gone into you leather substitue shoes? Do you eat eggs? Free range I guess if you do- have you seen a free range egg farm? I wouldn't call most of them high welfare. I'm so sorry- but doing the right thing aint as black and white as you think!

James Marchington said...

Animal Aid have posted a story from one of tonight's (Thursday's) participants here. No surprises really - she was a vegetarian who had never heard of grouse before, but was quick to condemn what she didn't understand.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

i've just read the vegi's lament on the animal aid site and it moved me to sneers.
'It is a tiny bird that lives in the undergrowth, living off seeds'

Oh dear the disneyfication continues, so easy to emote about 'a poor little thing that lives on seeds'. I thought stonehead summed it up when he told a commenter that the differance between them was he used animals for his dietry needs whereas she used them for her emotional needs.

SBW

pet-tacular said...

Did anyone see her last night? So far the other veggies on the program have made me feel pity that they are so soft-hearted and ignorant of real life - that one on the other hand made me want to submit her to cruelty, talk about a face like a smacked arse!!! God she was ill informed and pathetic. Grrrr!!!

On the other hand snares are shitty, in my opinion if you really don't want to use a method that kills indescriminately cages that are checked twice daily are the only answer. But I don't have a problem with protecting the grouse, surely killing foxes and weasels to protect grouse is no different to killing foxes to protect sheep and killing slugs to protect cabbagges!!!

Oh yeah Greeneyes - do you honestly think if a tiger was hungry it'd think to it's self "Oh no I can't kill this proud sentient human being, it wouldn't be fair as evolution has given me big claws and teeth and the human can't defend it's self!" ... I don't think so! People like you think you are so bloody superior and you're not, you are an animal who needs to survive, be that by cutting down trees and killing off pests so you can have your vegetables or by using your large brain that mother nature has let the human animal evolve and using a weapon to kill your meat.

Gosh sorry what a lot I've written! Must've woken up in an opinionated mood today - have a good weekend everyone.

James Marchington said...

Pet-tacular, I agree with a lot of what you say (yes, she was a miserable specimen wasn't she!) Don't be too quick to condemn snares though. Yes, used badly they can be indiscriminate. But used properly, with knowledge of the target species' physiology and behaviour, they can be very efficient, with minimal risk to non-target animals. The antis like to trot out photos of poor practice, but who set those snares? Not a professional, I'll bet, but those are the guys who'll have a valuable tool taken away if snares are banned (while any numpty will still be able to make a noose out of a bit of brake cable).

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

I am still having a tough time comprehending how a resident of the United Kingdon could not have heard of a grouse, or call them "tiny." Guess ortolans are out of the question, then...

smig4373 said...

"""The animal we were hunting was announced as grouse. I had never heard of this bird before, I think it is sold in posh places only. It is a tiny bird that lives in the undergrowth, living off seeds. It doesn’t fly very high and lives in colonies."""...what a comment...haha...ive just read emma'a blog on the experience of shooting..what can i say.what an ill-informed,ignorant self opinionated and down right imature young girl..it actually made me laugh...i work in a farm supply store in cornwall.one of my colleagues is a vegan and even she said she was pathetic..the girl i work with understands what i do,and why i do it,and i understand her choices of why she chooses her life style...we discuss the why's and where-fores of wach others beliefs in a grow up and mature manner...why cant all the other hippocrits do the same and grow up a bit...also,no ones mentioned.in the first episode,the vegan professed to being heatlhy on the diet she eats...then it turns out she aniemic...ignorance seems to be the way for these people...imagine the up-roar if we took that approach....david

Anonymous said...

Sure, the concept was was very very difficult - as was trying to contain all the camera crews, directors and producers. But at the end of the day, even with 36 different participants, you can see and judge for yourself what the cameras made of them. I very much hope that Balavil as a working estate came across as a welcoming place.

Antony

James Marchington said...

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, that's an interesting point. The anti-hunting participants weren't just misinformed, they had virtually no knowledge at all about the quarry, its environment, or how shooting is conducted. I hope that if I had such strong views against something, I would take the trouble to educate myself about it before condemning those involved.

vicky payne said...

Don't be too hard on those that don't understand the countryside. It is not that long ago that I did not know what hare coursing was, or how a shoot worked, or how grouse were managed. WE must work really hard to help people learn about the countryside as most of the population does not know about it, can't learn first hand and is fed lies about our way of life by vocal anti's. I find once shooting is explained people are less frosty towards it but I have spoken to vets who live in rural areas who think pheasants are released from a cage on shoot day!

Green Eyes said...

Actually it is you who are very misinformed. The meat industry is a huge contributor to global destruction and environmental warming, far more so than a vegetarian diet and lifestyle. Rainforests are cleared for grazing, methane from livestock causes global warming, soil is eroded by cattle, slurry poisons waterways, and the seas are laid to waste by overfishing. The forever growing global population would be more efficently fed by vegetarian diet, a meat based diet could never go anywhere near feeding the world's population whereas a vegetatian based one could. A vegetarian diet is also far healthier for the population too and reduces the risks and health costs of diabetes, heart disease, strokes etc today;s main killers.

On another point however. The programme did convey the huge passion and committment the estate workers and farmers have for their land and all forms of life on it. They showed the utmost respect for the animals, conservation and ecosytems. They had true and genuine care and concern for the wellbeing of the game. i respect this and really appreciated this passion that clearly came across. Which brings me on to my next point. For those who do beleive in eating meat this is by far the more natural and humane and respectful way to go about it: killing wild animals who have lead a natural life,unrestrained from expressing their natural instincts and behaviours. Then showing respect and value of the creature by preparing and eating/ using every bit of it. sadly , this is a far far different story to the production of meat that most eat from the supermarkets. and it is this that is my biggest objection. The suffering, distress and depravity that these anaimals are subjected to is utterly dispicable and unnecessary. And then 30% of all this meat is wasted at the end of the day. Surely in todays age of such developement and advancement where we are trying to promote values of compassion and harmony, we can raise the standards beyond these. Unfortunately as always the meat industry is governed on values of profit making, economics and intensity

James Marchington said...

Green Eyes, all stirring stuff, and looks great on a protest banner, but it's far too simplistic. Meat-eating is not the problem, it is part of the solution.

Take one simple example: the hills of Scotland cannot possibly grow the type of plants that we could eat - the soil and climate will only support heather, rough grass etc which humans cannot digest. With managed grazing by herbivores (sheep, deer, goats, whatever) these areas can produce healthy nutritious meat and support a rare, fragile and beautiful ecosystem with tremendous biodiversity. As Langholm proved, once we abdicate our responsibility to manage such an environment, it degenerates rapidly and valuable species are lost.

The problems you list are the result of greedy, intensive overproduction driven by a quest for short-term profit. Since the 1950s, we have steadily turned our backs on generations of farming knowledge, and tried to industrialise nature. Now that's something we can agree needs to be addressed.

I have no axe to grind for farming, but I come across a great many livestock farmers, and I can honestly say that I do not recognise your description of animals subjected to "suffering, distress and depravity". Animal welfare is already high on the agenda for British farmers.

I feel sure that you could achieve more by working with farmers, shooters and the like, rather than taking an antagonistic approach. You might be surprised at how much our concerns and yours overlap.

James

The Fox said...

I thought the keepers presented themselves and the facts superbly. Showing how a well managed estate provides superb sport, habitat for a huge diversity of wildlife and of course some of the best wild food in the world.

Green Eyes said...

Yes I think we may have struck on some common ground at last! I agree with you that those problems are the results of greedy, intensive overproduction driven by a quest for short-term profit. But sadly this is what ‘farming’ and the meat industry have become today. The suffering, distress and depravity of animals that I refer to is the practice in modern intensive factory farming. Simply by being deprived the space to move, the ability to express natural behaviours and instincts, force fed so legs break unable to support their bodies, young born into their mothers’ excrement then prematurely separated and forced to face the terrors and tortures of the slaughterhouse or else they die or are injured in transport for days without adequate water, space and food. This is the distress and suffering. Animal welfare standards in UK farming are not all they are made out to be. Practices in slaughterhouses are not enforced, there is insufficient veterinary oversight and with thousands of animals passing through every day many are not effectively shot or stunned before having their throats slit fully conscious. I can not even bring myself to think about standards beyond UK.

Admittedly, this is not ‘true farming’ and that is the huge shame. If all the meat in the UK was raised and reared like the wild game in the show then this would be closer to being more acceptable. Those estate workers had lived and worked on the land all their lives and evidently knew and understood the land and had genuine concern and respect for the animals on it. They displayed true husbandry and farming knowledge the way it should be. I wish all meat was reared in such a way. But at the end of the day, given that this is an avaricious consumer driven society we should always be mindful that the commodity marketed here is not man made or inanimate but a living creature with rights of its own to be respected. They didn’t choose to be a vermin or a source for human consumption, we choose those labels. They share the same physiology and biology as we do, they feel in the same way, hurt just as we do, experience terror and fear and maternal instincts and this cannot should not be overlooked. Its not an emotive issue, its just the indisputable way things are and with all our human characteristics of compassion and autonomy we should fulfill our moral obligations and treat them accordingly.

vicky payne said...

So Greeneyes; if you have at least a little respect for 'us' rearing our food extensively in the countryside to the benefit of other species as well as our quarry, and managing and harvesting the truly wild game like deer and grouse why are you on this blog attacking us?

I agree with much of what you say; most humans are wasteful and selfish but vegetarianism and veganism aren't cure-all's. they have their own problems. The farming of animals in extensive systems can be beneficial to the environment (sheep preventing the re-forestation of moorland for example) and produce meat as a by-product. I think you will find most shooters share your beliefs that the gneral public shovel too much factory farmed meat down their gullets! If we all ate small amounts of sensitivley farmed or wild meat, plus a diet rich in natural vegetarian foods (as opposed to processed polluting crud)(ok, you can miss out the meaty bit!) we could sustain the health of both the world and it's humans.
For me I think the problem is that people like yourself join broad 'anti' groups, and people like shooters join broad 'pro' groups. If both sides stood back, looked at where they agreed and worked together maybe some real improvements could be made. Instead 'antis' just choose easier targets like shooting because your average townie will give money for that whereas if you stood outside macdonalds or tescos condemming every person who bought a non-welfare friendly animal product there would be little income for the group.

James Marchington said...

Amazingly, despite being shown up as a bunch of whingers without a leg to stand on, the League Against Cruel Sports is still trying to get some PR out of this programme with their latest press release. Having totally lost the argument, they're now falling back on the idea that 'bloodthirsty shooters' actually enjoy going shooting, shock horror. Hey, you forgot to have a dig about them being 'rich toffs'. Face it, guys, your views are as outdated as the real 'cruel sports' like bear-baiting and public executions. How about we all grow up and start working towards improving biodiversity and animal welfare? Because right now you're diverting funds and public attention away from where it would actually do some good.

vicky payne said...

Just read the LACS stuff - Did people on the show really not enjoy the grouse? I have only had a couple in my life but they were delicious; akin to the best fillet steak in texture and rich and meaty in flavour...mmmm. Perhaps those who usually eat supermarket beef, mass produced chicken and processed junk don't appreciate real flavours. Fair enough, if you don't like it and won't eat it then don't shoot it...Off to cook up a smoked duck for a warm salad now...yum yum. No factory farm for him; a big wood and pond before he fell to the gun ensure he is well fleshed and not overly flabby.

pet-tacular said...

James that is so true, for so long I have tried arguing with these idiots (as unfortunately they are unavoidable in my line of work) that by spreading stupid idiotic lies people aren't seeing the real cruelty that goes on in factory farms and laboratories etc ... but of course campaigning that a lab rat has bedding and a place to hide when resting from experiments is not nearly as dramatic as telling stupid lies about dogs and cats being snatched from the streets for experimentation ... the fact is these "activists" are just prats who want drama and a fight and if they didn't have the guise of animal rights they'd be football hooligans or religious extremists! ... errr how did I get from hunting to experiments? Oh well I've written it now lol.

on the hills said...

How come the antis that keep telling us that we have no right to take another animals life will quite willingly give their dog or cat a worming tablet or put flea powder on them? Well who gives THEM the right to kill that tape worm or flea? The reason that this act of killing sits ok on their conscience is because of the fact that the tape worm is not cute and the flea is not fluffy!
Also I can not finish without saying a big well done to Arthur, the gamekeeper on Balavil estate. He did a great job in what must have been a very challenging situation.

Samantha Poole said...

This programme seriously needs to stop being made, sure we have to "murder" these poor animals for our own personal needs but why splash it all over tv, who in their right mind would sit through that programme in pleasure unless there is something disturbed in their brain most of us would turn over. I have my own farm and have been brought up with animals, I could never kill one of my own. If you could kill an animal in such a cruel way whats saying you wouldn't kill a human with the same cold heart? in my eyes this is encouraging murder! Leave the murdering to the professionals, i do not approve of seeing it all over my tv! I feel like i could carry out those procedures on some of you cold hearted humans without a doubt!

James Marchington said...

Samantha, you don't seem to like humans very much. I don't know what sort of farm you run, but it doesn't sound like any farm I've ever seen.

I think it's important that people take a close interest in where their food comes from, and how it ends up on their plate. What's wrong is treating meat as a commodity, to be bought on price alone. That shows no respect to the animals, and closes our eyes to all sorts of welfare issues. The TV is not just there to entertain, it educates as well.

I think you're confused about cruelty. Cruelty is when someone deliberately inflicts pain and suffering. Killing an animal instantly and without pain is not cruelty.

Seriously, I think you need to find out more about this subject before making such sweeping slanderous allegations (and death threats) about huge groups of perfectly decent people.

Sarah said...

'I think you're confused about cruelty. Cruelty is when someone deliberately inflicts pain and suffering'

James, I think you're confused. Are you suggesting that animals that are killed for their meat, are killed accidentally then? Either that, or you are suggesting that no animals who are killed for their meat ever experience any pain or suffering. I don't even know why I'm bothering to post this. The chances of you having any grasp of logic, are clearly nil. Bye.

Sarah said...

'How come the antis that keep telling us that we have no right to take another animals life will quite willingly give their dog or cat a worming tablet or put flea powder on them?'

@On the Hills - this is the first time I've ever heard this argument from a meat-eater. It's a genuinely good point, one of the only good lines of argument I've ever heard levelled at veganism.

Yes, this does pose a dilemma. However, just because one kills the one in order to save the other, this doesn't mean that we're left with an ethical 'free for all', where no-one has any rights to anything. It's just that on balance, the pain and suffering that fleas and mites can cause to dogs is likely worse. Dogs and cats are different to insects.

Incidentally, if you argue that it is ok to kill animals - why is it not ok to kill people? What about people who are severely mentally disabled?

James Marchington said...

Sarah, all life involves a degree of pain and suffering, and inevitably death. We are part of that. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living in la-la land. It is meaningless to talk as if animals had 'rights', and as if we have the choice to live without having any effect on the animal world. Vegans, like the rest of us, would starve to death without pest control.

The mark of our 'civilization' is that where we interact with the animal world, we choose to accept a responsibility to minimise the pain and suffering we cause - hence our rules for slaughterhouses, our 'sporting' traditions of showing respect for the quarry including not taking risky shots, and retrieving and dispatching any wounded quarry without delay.

Veganism is a valid choice, although a poorly informed one in my opinion. It certainly isn't some ethically superior standpoint, more often a denial of the true nature of life on earth.

We may disagree on how humans should deal with animals, but please don't imagine that shooters are bloodthirsty sadists who enjoy inflicting pain - that's the lie put about by animal rights extremists, and if you ever get the chance to go along on a shoot you'll discover just how wrong it is.

mark said...

Vegans often ask what gives us the right to take the life of another animal, the answer is simple.

We are the dominant species on this planet, that alone grants us the right to treat animals how we choose.
That we choose to treat our livestock with as much care as possible speaks of our better nature, but at the end of the day my needs and the needs of my kind come before those of others.

That is the law of nature.

Sarah said...

'We are the dominant species on this planet, that alone grants us the right to treat animals how we choose.'

@Mark - this is a terrible argument. On what basis are we 'dominant'? This sounds reminiscent of the 'traditionalist' male saying he has natural dominance over his wife and can therefore treat her as he pleases.

If you mean, that we are intellectually superior, does it also therefore follow that people with higher IQs can treat those with lower IQs as they please? Again- what about people who are mentally disabled? Are you saying that even though they may have the same level of mental ability as a dog or a chimp, just because they happen to be a member of the species Homo Sapien- then they are granted extra rights?

Incidentally, are you aware of Peter Singer's views on this, what he refers to as 'speciesism'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciesism

I am a vegan. Though I don't actually think it is wrong to kill an animal if it is killed instantly and doesn't suffer. Of course, when animals are treated as commodities in the meat industry, this is never the case - so I don't buy any animal products.

Mark, just checking - do you actually really think then, that if I (as a member of this dominant species) wanted to, say, gouge out the eyes of a dog with a pen knife, just because this was 'as I please' - is that morally ok then?

Sarah said...

@James - you make some interesting points, but fundamentally I disagree with most of this.

Yes, in a sense, it IS meaningless to talk of 'rights' for animals, but it is just as difficult to talk about rights for humans too. Why does anyone or anything have a right to something..? Basically, it doesn't. Rights are a man-made concept. But even so, to subscribe rights to a severely mentally disabled human, but yet not give them to a monkey, doesn't make sense.

In my opinion, it makes sense to grant rights where they are applicable. I mean that, for example- if a being has the capacity to suffer physical pain - then it has a right to not have pain deliberately inflicted upon it. Just as in the sense that children don't have an interest in or mental capability to vote in a general election - therefore they don't have this right.

As a side note - can I just say, that most vegans are not violent maniacs who who would just as easily be rioting at a football match - they just think it is wrong to inflict pain on animals so we can have burgers and a Sunday roast. That's all. I don't understand where all the vitriol comes from, I really don't.

Yes, there are ethical dilemmas faced by veganism - but that doesn't completely discredit it. It's just about trying to reduce pain and suffering. Yes- nature does necessitate pain, but I could use this argument to justify why it's ok for me to punch a kid in the face if I wanted to to.

mark said...

Sarah, your comment was somewhat confusing, are you saying that because someone is mentaly retarded they should be treated like a dog or a monkey? No.

We are dominant not because of IQ (although intelligence is our calling card) but because we are able to kill and/or consume any other species on the planet. If that were not the case this debate would be moot as something would be happily eating us, with no moral hassles i might add.

As for 'speciesism' that is entirely the point, a creatures priorities are always 'self,family,friends,species,pets,other' in that order.
That is the way nature operates.

As for gouging the dogs eyes out, that is not reasonable, your not killing it to eat it and if you are, your doing it in a horribly inefficient and agonising way.

That cannot be morally justified.
(mind you, anyone who has watched a cat play with it's food would wonder why anyone would find them adorable)

my question to you is, would you advocate the death penalty(or perhaps a little eye gouging)for the perpetrator? if not then it would seem you are placing the rights of the human above those of the animal.

P.S excuse my spelling it's 2am

James Marchington said...

Sarah, I think my problem with 'rights' for animals is that it's an upside-down way of looking at it. There are things that are 'wrong', that we shouldn't do, but that doesn't mean that animals have 'rights'.

It is meaningless to talk about the rights of a pigeon which will suffer extreme cold, fear and hunger during its life, and may well end being eaten alive by a sparrowhawk.

Pain evolved as an essential part of an organism's survival - like hunger, thirst etc. It has nothing to do with rights.

If we keep an animal as livestock or a pet, we have a responsibility to look after it properly, so it doesn't suffer excessive pain, hunger, etc. Hunters, in my view, have a similar responsibility to the animals they hunt - hence the need to ensure a clean kill etc.

Let's talk about responsibilities, not rights.

As for vegans, I'm happy for them to do their thing and leave me to do mine. The ones I can't stand are those that whine on about how they're saving the planet and the fluffy bunnies, and worse still want to enforce their choice on everyone else.

mark said...

Thank you james, that was very well said.

Rights are an abstract term created by people, something we just made up. animals dont care about such things, but because we, as thinking beings, eat these animals we have a responsibility to ensure they do not suffer and to show respect to the animals who die so we can eat.

That is the great thing about this program, by educating people on where their food comes from and how it gets to their plates (not guilt tripping them to promote some vegan agenda) we teach them to respect the animals they eat and help to encourage better practises in the meat industry that improve the welfare of our livestock. a goal I think we all would agree with.

It just annoys me to hear some vegans (not all) such as this james bloke from "Kill it cook it eat it" carry on about an animals 'right' to live and how any killing is immoral.
That is just emotional and counter productive crap.


P.S Sarah your points are interesting to debate, please forgive us if we come on a little strong, it's only because we care about these issues.

Anouk said...

I actually agree that this is not a question of rights, but one of choice. 'Rights' is too subjective a term, which means very different things to different people, and is also essentially redundant when applied to animals who don't have the power to enforce whatever rights we may give them. What bothers me here is how much misinformation is being stated as fact, by people with very particular agendas. I am a vegan because I believe that an animal's life is worth more than the brief pleasure I may experience from the taste of its flesh. I would not choose for it to die for me. Of course animals eat eachother, often in very brutal ways, but this is the result of necessity, not choice. They do not have the alternatives that we do - and I'm not talking about processed meat equivalents like quorn, which aren't actually very good for us or the environment, but nutritious vegetable foods including pulses, grains, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables to name just a few examples. The suggestion that vegetarians and vegans are always nutritionally deficient is nonsense - any diet, if not balanced properly, can lead to deficiencies. There is no question that many vegetarians and vegans remove animal protein (as well as minerals such as iron and calcium and vitamins such as B12 etc.) without replacing these with an appropriate plant source, so of course they end up with deficiencies, however if you pay attention to your diet you actually have a significantly longer life expectancy as a vegetarian than as a meat eater. I have been vegetarian for 17 years, I run 8km a day, and am rarely ill. I would never suggest that we compromise our health to protect another species, but it is actually very easy for humans to live healthily without animal products. Many of the environmental arguments put forward here are also flawed. It is true that much of the rainforest has been cleared to grow soya crops, however the fact that has been omitted here is that this crop is produced to feed animals (predominantly beef cattle), not people. It takes 6 kg of vegetable protein to produce 1kg of animal protein - you don't have to be a fanatical vegan to see how inefficient this is. Meat and dairy farming also use vast quanities of water, and produce more methane than any other source. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra),which is certainly not an extremist animal advocacy group, now recommends eating less meat as one of the "key environmental behaviour changes" needed to save the planet.
The suggestion that there would be no animals without farming and hunting is ridiculous -if we reduced our dependence on farm animals and turned instead to the more efficient farming of plant crops we could return large areas of land to native flora and fauna. I agree entirely that if you really feel you must eat meat, it is more humane to eat wild animals that have had a good, free life, provided, of course that you know what you are doing. As a person involved in wildlife rescue, I have seen far too many animals horribly wounded and left to die by incompetant hunters.
There are, of course, environments in which plant protein is essentially unavailable (the Inuit people spring to mind here) and in these circumstances I would never condemn the killing of animals to ensure human survival. Similarly, there are environments in which the clearing required to produce plant crops would be so destructive to native animal and plant life that it is less destructive to hunt and eat animals already existing in the environment. For me, the most important thing is taking only what we really need, and not being driven by greed or laziness. Please don't assume that vegetarianism and veganism are driven by sentiment or naivety, because this couldn't be further from the truth.

James Marchington said...

Anouk, you make some good points, but you too are pushing out misinformation stated as fact.

If everyone decided to turn vegan or even vegetarian it would be an environmental and public health disaster.

Yes it is possible to eat a healthy, balanced vegetarian or vegan diet, but at what cost, financially and to the environment?

And how are you going to control the pests that eat your crops of pulses, grains, nuts and dark green leafy vegetables? That sounds like a pigeon's paradise to me, and it would be wasteful not to eat the pigeons, deer, rabbits, etc shot to protect the crops.

The vegetable matter eaten by hill sheep, goats, cattle is of no use to humans, and that ground/climate could never grow useful human food. Much of this is not 'vegetable protein'. The smart thing about ruminants is that their gut microflora synthsises protein from non-protein sources. These animals are a supremely efficient way of converting rough forage, useless to you and I, into tasty nutritious meat.

We could farm our land more efficiently than we do, and do it in a way that's better for wildlife and biodiversity. But animals are a vital part of that equation. The old small mixed farms that once covered rural Britain were wonderfully efficient - and carbon neutral, to use a modern catchphrase. It all started to go wrong when we turned agriculture into an industry, with huge inputs from the petrochemicals business, including churning out cheap rubbish half way round the world and then transporting it here.

Your argument is too simplistic. Just because big business cuts down some rainforest to produce industrial scale beef for fast food burgers, it doesn't mean all meat is bad.

Oh, and I wouldn't believe anything put out by this wicked government's Department for the Elimination of Farming. They'll be saying badgers don't spread bovine TB next, or that climate change is going to kill us all.

Anouk said...

I would be interested to hear which of my comments specifically are inaccurate. You claim that my position is simplistic, and perhaps it would be had I actually made some of the assertions that you have improperly inferred. My comment on rainforest deforestation and its relation to the meat industry was in direct response to an earlier post claiming that forests are being destroyed to grow soy to feed vegetarians. I never suggested that this could be used as a blanket condemnation of all meat consumption; I was merely correcting an inaccurate statement about the purpose of this deforestation.
At no point did I suggest that we should attempt to grow protein crops in the Scottish highlands – that is obviously a ridiculous suggestion, and you will notice that I stated specifically that in environments where plant crops are unsuited I believe that limited hunting is justifiable. I would point out however, that the ecosystems to which you allude, and in particular the animal populations that they sustain, could certainly not survive if everybody chose to acquire their food this way. Hunting in these environments is only sustainable as a niche activity, and is entirely unsuited as a means of larger scale food acquisition. I live and was raised in the country, and I have seen the effects of over-hunting and over-fishing first hand.
With regard to so-called pest control, my partner and I grow most of our own fruit and vegetables and we have never killed anything. On the small scale farms that you advocate, it is possible to protect crops with appropriate netting and fencing. We should also remember that many so-called pest species do have natural predators - if we are actually interested in limiting the rabbit population, I can’t help but question the logic of shooting foxes.
You claim that if everybody became vegetarian the world would face an environmental and public health disaster. How precisely? If you are going to make this kind of claim you need to be a little more specific. Have you ever actually researched vegetarianism in an unbiased way? Obviously this is a pro-shooting blog, and I don’t expect you to share my opinion on these issues, but as a journalist, you should read your sources carefully before you critique them.

James Marchington said...

Anouk, I value your contribution; as you acknowledge, posting about veganism in the comments section of a shooting blog is bound to bring a robust response.

I do know a bit more about the subject than the average man-in-the-street; I have a degree in agriculture and worked in the agrochemicals industry for 10 years after I graduated.

Some of the specific problems with feeding a majority of the population on a vegetarian or vegan diet would centre on the 'essential' amino acids which the human body cannot synthesise and must be obtained from protein in the diet.

Vegetarians/vegans counter this by seeking out foods such as soy milk and tofu - both manufactured from soybeans which are not suited to the British climate and therefore need to be shipped around the world, with associated environmental damage.

Producing suitable crops on the scale necessary to feed a vegetarian population would require greater intensification of farming, with greater inputs of artificial fertilisers and pesticides. The crops would also suffer considerable damage from deer, pigeons,rabbits, etc, regardless of what you've been able to achieve on your small scale plot.

Children, pregnant women, certain ethnic groups, etc, have specific amino acid requirements that are easily not met by a vegetarian or vegan diet, even with soy-based products.

There are similar issues with specific nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, zinc and calcium.

'Fad' vegans can deal with this by monitoring their diet extremely carefully, and taking manufactured dietary supplements; I would suggest this is not a practical solution for the ordinary person for whom their diet is not also their hobby.

It's my opinion that most people in the 'civilized' western world would benefit from eating less meat and more plant-based food. But taking this to the extreme of veganism is unhelpful, and positively risky for vulnerable groups.

Having said all that, I respect anyone's right to make their own choices. If someone wants to live on a diet of vegetables, or Guinness and Capstan Full Strength, good luck to them. We've become far too intolerant of people who don't conform to the officially sanctioned norm.

Anouk said...

Firstly, I would like to thank you for allowing me to post what is probably, from a shooter’s perspective, a very irritating series of comments. I just have a few final points to make and then I promise I will leave you alone.
I agree that soy is not suitable to grow on a large scale in the UK; however it is already grown here and even exported. Animal feed is by far the biggest driver of increased soy production, accounting for around 85% of soy imported to, and grown in Britain. If you are serious about reducing our use of associated pesticides and fertilizers, as well as reducing the environmental cost of importing soy, then it is actually the meat industry that you should be targeting, not vegetarians and vegans. You may disapprove of the use of soy in animal feed, but you will have a very difficult time convincing farmers to accept decreased animal growth and more expensive feed. There is a common misapprehension that vegetarians and vegans are heavily dependent on soy for nutrition, and in my experience this is not the case. Most of us eat some soy (as do most meat eaters - have you ever looked at the ingredients of a takeaway meat pie?) but it is only one component of a highly varied diet.
I won't list for you all of the crops which contribute to an excellent vegan diet, the majority of which grow well in England, but I will mention quinoa which has an outstanding nutritional profile and has recently been introduced here. It grows very well on light land, and is not attacked by birds because the seeds have a bitter coating. Most varieties of nuts are successfully grown in SE England also, and I’m sure you are already aware of how well peas, beans, spinach, silverbeet, and broccoli grow throughout most of the country. The belief that we are all dependent upon artificial supplements is also inaccurate; some vegetarians and vegans take iron and vitamin B supplements rather than seeking out dietary sources, just as some meat eaters take a daily multivitamin because they don't get around to eating the recommended 5 daily servings of fruit and veg. Very few people, regardless of their ethical position, eat a perfectly balanced diet all the time. I agree that poorly managed veganism can be dangerous, just as a poorly managed omnivorous diet can be dangerous when it results in 10 year old children being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes . We are held more accountable for the perceived deficiencies in our diet than any other group in society, when statistics prove that on average we are considerably healthier. Currently, the biggest killers in this country are cancer and heart disease, and vegetarians and vegans have a significantly lower incidence of both of these.
Finally, I find it very interesting that almost everybody posting here seems to agree on one point - that we should not cause animals 'unnecessary suffering.' The vast majority of humans do not actually need to eat meat, so the act of killing an animal, and whatever degree of suffering may be associated with that, is for the most part unnecessary. There are of course, as I have already stated, exceptions to this, and I would never condemn anyone for killing to ensure their own survival. We are not fanatics, we are merely logically upholding a principle in which you yourselves profess to believe.

James Marchington said...

Anouk, more good points - thank you. I think we'll have to agree to disagree on the definition of 'unnecessary'. I tend to think in terms of 'not a necessary part of putting that piece of meat on my plate'. The meat on my plate is certainly necessary, to me. You, as I've said, are welcome to make your own choices, and I certainly won't be 'targeting' you for them.

lellybugz said...

I just have my own opinion. No one else’s' concern whatsoever (pre KICIEI). I just had no emotion the same as Mosun who stated quote unquote “ just felt if it died who cared how it lived right?”

But now the argument has been purely driven by the a divide between Phoebe the ardent meat eater and James the resolute vegan rather than about the justification of the programme-the presenter has twigged to this fact and it grates me tremendously almost to the point of belligerence!

I have reached past this evident attempt to divert the public opinion and feel is my duty to try and ensure I buy good quality meat products whenever I can ensure the welfare of farm animals are kept at a higher standard. I can never be vegan or even vegetarian and it would be hypocritical to state otherwise but at least I can do my utmost to ensure I buy top quality meat and therefore stop inflicting too much suffering on the chosen cut.

I do not believe in being vegetarian or more so vegan as this would mean the end of farming and the end of sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens and other farm life altogether as without the farming industry there would be no need for people to rear these animals rendering them practically extinct. Unless vegetarians and vegans take it upon themselves to start farming to preserve livestock their denunciation of farming as it is today renders the life of these livestock obsolete. They need to think of a remedy rather than a complete annihilation of these animals. No one today will rear them at a loss.