Do you know where meat comes from?
If you said “from an animal”, you would be correct – ten points! If you said “from the supermarket, wrapped in cling film” then you are deluded. More than likely, you’re somewhere in between where you know that logically meat comes from animals, but if you were to think of that meat having come from a sprightly, squawking chicken or a cute fluffy lamb less than a week ago, you’re probably reconsidering your kebab.
Ever since the human race moved on from the hunter/gatherer days and to our city-dwelling lifestyles of modern conveniences, we have become less and less connected with where our food originates. We can grab ready-meals at the supermarket, drive through McDonald’s to satisfy a chicken nugget craving, or pick up the phone and within thirty minutes your piping hot pizza is at your door.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people have lost the connection with their food. A recent study even found that almost a third of year 6 students in Australia thought that yoghurt grew on trees! The BBC produced a thought-provoking series called Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, which followed the journey of meat “from the pasture to the plate” through the eyes of a range of people from your average omnivore to vegetarians to those that have worked with animals. Not only did they learn about how the animals were reared, but also chose the animals that would be slaughtered, watch the slaughtering at the abattoir, and then serve a meal with the fresh meat.
It was a fascinating insight into how people think about meat, and for the majority of the population it does just come from the supermarket, wrapped in cling film. Only a small proportion of people would work directly with animals that are reared for meat, and another few would be willing to kill an animal for a meal. If you were to propose to your friends or family that they kill their dinner they would probably be horrified at the thought of cutting a chicken’s neck or shooting a rabbit. The hypocrisy is that they are undoubtedly fine for someone else to do the dirty work for their Sunday roast, but to have blood on their own hands? Hmm, maybe not.
There are even some people that cannot face seeing a distinguishable animal on their plate, and would prefer being served a shapeless chicken breast fillet or fish fingers to seeing a pig on a spit or a whole roasted spatchcock that almost looks like it could pick itself up and walk off the table. Should we be so removed from the idea of where our meat comes from that we don’t even want to think of it being alive at one point, happily running around a paddock? Are some of us in denial? And if you truly don’t like the thought of eating an animal, should you be considering vegetarianism?
The truth that many of us can’t face is that the meat in our spaghetti bolognese or chicken pad thai once came from a farm and was born a gangly, brown-eyed calf or a cheeping chick. These animals were once living and breathing creatures, and gave up their lives for our sustenance and enjoyment. Next time you’re tucking into your bangers and mash or burger with the lot, give some thought into the origins of your dinner and be thankful that someone else has done the dirty work for you!
* Image courtesy of It’s Nature