Thursday 19 April 2012

"I'll eat cow, but eat dog? That's just disgusting"

We happily chomp down on a nice piece of beef, pork, lamb or chicken, but offer most meat eaters something 'exotic' and they recoil in horror.

Why is that? Why is it that we are happy to eat some animals but to eating others is frowned upon?

I think our general reluctance to eat cat, dog, rabbit or even kangaroo meat in the UK is because we associate it with the animal it came from.  We can't think of these meats without thinking of loyal companions or of animal documentaries on kangaroos carry around their joey in their pouches. 

But somehow we don't make this association with beef, pork, lamb or chicken. Is it because they are hideous animals? I don't think so, we seem to have quite a fondness for these animals when they're alive, people go 'aww' over lambs and micro pigs have really taken off as pets. The truth is that these animals can be just as adorable as cats and dogs.

Then there's the fact that we seem to aid the dissociation of these animals from their meat by giving the meat different names to the animal it came from- like beef and pork. Would people still buy it if it was labelled 'Cow' and 'Pig'? And would people still buy meat if butchers hung up the whole animal instead of us only viewing it in the unrecognisable pieces it is cut into?

Since the recession, people want to spend less but without cutting down on meat, therefore TV programmes like Super Scrimpers show people how to cook cheap pieces of meat such as kidney. It's quite interesting to watch people's reactions to gutting kidneys, they don't seem to like the look of it and the fact it looks like what it is.  But we're happy to eat cow muscle.

I remember working with a Chinese guy, who use to relay us tales of all the different things he had eaten, once he told us he'd eaten donkey and the whole office was horrified.  The next day he came in to have 'Donkey Killer' taped to his chair. There was nothing cruel meant by it, and it was all done in good humour (he actually loved the attention) but even then, before I started to think about the meat on my plate thought "I bet there are Indians that are horrified that we eat cows".

A month or so ago I watched a video called 'Cooking Kitty' produced by the vegetarian society as part of it's butcher's cat campaign which poses the question; 'Why do we make pets out of some animals, but mince meat out of others?' The video itself I'm not keen on, it attempts to use mild emotional blackmail to get you to change how you think.  But the campaign did make me think about why we choose to eat some animals but not others, and that fascinates me, and was one of the reasons that lead to my choice to become vegetarian.

By doing this post, I don't wish to promote vegetarianism in any way, especially not in an emotive one but if you do take anything away from this, take away that all meat is equal, regardless of the animal it came from and if you choose to eat meat, stop being so horrified by people eating rabbit, you're eating a cow.

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