Saturday, December 09, 2006

Is it time to boycott meat?

As regular readers will be aware all my boycotts have been set to zero whilst I undergo a process of re-examination. I've determined that I will either boycott two things (on the basis that you can't realistically boycott everything) and leave an option open for not boycotting anything on the basis that they don't work.

Once the definitive list of options is ready, perhaps in time for New Year's Day, it will be put to the public vote and I'll boycott whatever the public decides. Be kind.

As luck would have it, just as I was thinking about whether it was time to go Vegetarian again, Ros Paterson advocates just that in the latest edition of Scottish Socialist Voice.

She argues that "eating meat doesn’t just choke your arteries and condemn captive creatures to a life of lonely agony, it is ravaging the planet too. Rearing cattle produces more CO2 than cars. It also produces nitrous oxide and methane, both of which are significantly more damaging to the earth’s atmosphere than C02."

The ever increasing demand for meat means deepening ever growing global environmental dangers. Not just through CO2 production but also vast swathes of have been forest cut down (e.g. 70% of the Amazon rainforest). Ros states that "This vast expansion is eating up the face of the planet. Some 30 per cent of the earth’s surface is given over to livestock rearing, including 33 per cent of all arable land, now dedicated to producing animal feed."

She finishes with the words "if we all ate a vegetarian diet, there would be enough food in the world to feed every human being without destroying the earth we grow it on. If we don’t, there isn’t, simple as that. All we are saying is give chick peas a chance."

Now obviously I'm not becoming a vegetarian if I have to eat chick peas - but I'm willing to try. I was a veggie for two years about a decade ago and I know I could do it if I tried. I also know I didn't particularly enjoy being vegetarian. I had one of the nicest sandwiches of my life yesterday in Indigo. If someone had replaced the bacon with, say, beetroot I would have spat it across the room so I would.

I became a veggie after attending the Brightlingsea live animal export protests. I came because it was a case of the local capitalist shitting on the entire community to make a fast buck, I became a veggie after seeing the conditions the animals were transported in. Of all the suggestions so far giving up meat would be the hardest one to stick to - but what is life if it doesn't contain challenges?

Previous posts on boycotts include: Flights of fancy, 729 means made in Israel, Taste of Bacardi, Killer Coke (out sourced to Red Mantis), and it all began with Mea culpa: I drank Coke.

Suggestions, and even guest posts, on other possible boycotts are more than welcome.


Anonymous said...

Vegetarianism's good on environmental, ethical and health grounds and its worth bearing in mind that animal exploitation is particularly egregious under capitalism.

I honestly don't find it all that hard to be vegetarian. I recommend you do it slowly, though. Cut out meat over a month or two and probably best not to start until after Christmas (otherwise there's all that temptation).

Derek Wall said...

never had any problem with not eating meat, its a life of curry for me!

have a look at my ethical eats column in Red Pepper!

Jim Jay said...

DW & DK: Well the temptation to buy a kebab when drunk is still high and bacon for breakfast is an occasional treat that has the power to cheer me up no end when I need it.

I live with my brother who's a veggie and to be honest that makes me a veggie 90% of the time anyway, so there's plenty of delicious non-meat food that I can tuck, into *but* the thing I found absolutely hardest to do without was fish, and it was fish which did me in last time.

I know some people are veggies but eat fish - but personally that would be defeating the object. Whilst the fishing industry isn't a massive CO2 producer it's still enormously problematic environmentally and I find the overfishing of the sea quite repugnant.

Anyway that's good advice DK about starting gradually and I certainly couldn't refuse Turkey this Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Don't be bloody ridiculous! I had a weekend without meat about ten years ago and it damned near killed me. A little CO2 is a small price to pay for eating properly.

Pinkie said...

I think you should give up all animal products and all drugs.

It won't do much good, but you will end up miserable, wearing strange clothes and farting a lot - bringing great amusement to a certain kind of person, well me at least.

Anonymous said...

I'm a minimalist rather than an absolutist when it comes to consumerism. There's nothing that I firmly boycott any more. I used to be vegetarian but now I occasionally eat meat (I've had quite a bit of local, organic meat this weekend as part of a Christmas feast).

I try to look at the ethical options, but I also take a pragmatic attitude that I won't turn something down on the basis of who produced it.

I find this is a more convivial approach. When I was veggie then for Christmas I would have an alternative, while my family had a turkey from the supermarket. Since I've started eating some meat again, there is room for me to persuade them to get one from a local farm shop instead. A turkey dies either way but, by being involved, rather than boycotting the Christmas dinner, I get to exert more influence on how the turkey lived.

In my humble opinion, the boycott is valuable as a religious ascetic exercise, but not particularly as a political statement.

Louisefeminista said...

Well, I became a vegetarian when I was 11 and that was around 26 years ago. Mainly due to my big sister telling horrible stories about the meat trade (bless her)and when presented with a plateful of meat I was get sad. Oh the joys of childhood with mean siblings. But I have been a vegetarian for so long (no fish either) that I forgotten what meat tastes like. I am not as rigid either (I have mellowed in my old age) as it is pointless and sanctimonous vegetarians are a pain in the arse....

Oh and didn't Gordon Ramsey once say that vegetarians have no taste buds?

The other thing, which I was only discussing the other day with a work colleague is how boring veggie dishes are in restaurants. If you eat cheese (and I 'fess up to that as I eat veggie cheese)it boils down to either "goats cheese with red onion tart" or something with mozarella.
And if you are vegan well just eat the salad.

Why people freak out still when you are invited around to dinner and announce beforehand you are a vegetarian never ceases to amaze me. Why the fuss? Just give me a salad, i am easily pleased.

LeftyHenry said...

I eat whatever is put on my plate. I put on my plate whatever tastes good and I can afford. A vegetarian lifestyle is none of the above.