Monday 17 September 2012

Knee-deep in mud... why? Why?

I haven’t been hanging around social media much over the last few days.  Truth to tell, I’m still  not feeling great and the screen has been doing my eyes in, so I spent most of the weekend curled up by the fire, watching the flames and…y'know...dozing, dreaming.  J

And then I logged onto Facebook and came back to earth with a crash.  Saw this picture, posted by Hen (she of the wondrous yurt) and just thought, why?  WHY? L

At first I thought they were pigs.  But no. These are sheep, Australian sheep.  The caption read:

Six weeks after being packed into a live export ship and sent halfway around the world, this is the miserable end for the thousands of Australian sheep caught up in the Ocean Drover disaster. Rejected by Bahrain and 'fast-tracked' to Pakistan, this photo taken in Karachi on the weekend shows they are now knee-deep in mud in hot and humid weather, at a clearly unsuitable holding facility. Pakistan has declared them diseased, and ordered them culled rather than sold for slaughter.”

And I know awful things are happening – to people, quite apart from animals – all over the world. But sometimes an image is so graphic it just hits harder than any number of words. And while there is not a huge amount you and I as individuals could do about, say, Syria... we could surely do something to stop this kind of cruelty?  I mean... why?  Why do we send live animals over the ocean, subjecting them to huge stress and misery, just so they can be killed and eaten elsewhere? Why? 

As some of you know, I don’t eat meat but please…this isn’t a case of rampant vegetarianism. I’m not telling you what to do; I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat meat.  I’m just saying, this kind of thing surely wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t the demand for cheap meat?  If you’re gonna eat meat, then please – think about where it comes from. Think local, think small-scalefarming.  Think about supporting farmers who actually care about the animals they rear.  Yes, it will be more expensive; probably a lot more expensive.  But then, I guess I’d say – maybe don’t eat so much or so often.  Even Adrian, who is a confirmed carnivore, has a meat-free day once or twice a week.  

One of the best cookbooks ever (IMHO, from back in the day when I used to cook) is Elisabeth Luard’s European Peasant Cookery.  In it she explains that the healthiest (and tastiest) cooking (all over the world, not just in Europe) tends to use meat in moderation, as flavouring rather than the main event. 
It makes perfect sense to me.  But then, we just don’t like to think about where our food comes from, do we?  It puzzles me, it really does, that people will happily munch a steak that has come from god knows where yet will wrinkle their noses with distaste at game – which has at least lived free with space to breathe and run and fly.  It’s a mixed up, muddled up world for sure. Or will carefully ensure their children get their five pieces of fruit and veg a day but will happily feed them burgers and sausages made from heaven only knows what. 

All I’m saying is…just maybe think about it.  Eat what you choose – truly, it’s your choice – just be aware of what you’re eating and where it came from. It's not only better for you and your family but, by  heck, it's one helluva lot better for sheep like those poor sods in Karachi.  

Okay, that's it.  Back to the fire.  


Tattieweasle said...

I do eat meat and I hunt it and because of that I am extremely concerned about the way we treat our farmed animals. We need to respect the animals that give us our food, understand their needs and ensure they are treated with extreme care at the end of their lives. There is no need to export animals live for slaughter. It is far more environmentally friendly and indeed humane to ship meat frozen over long distances. This picture is a disgrace to the farmers who don't give a damn once the stock is sold to the animal exporters and buyers and sellers and finally to us consumers who are after cheap food at any cost.
Sorry I get quite worked up about this sort of thing. I beleive all animals should be offered dignity in both life and death anything less is inexcusable.

Rob-bear said...

Like Adrian, I'm an omnivore, who has some meatless meals every week. (Virtually every day, in fact.) I understand the agricultural cycle, and the respect most agrarian people show toward their stock. The top picture you posted is so very sad, and was probably unnecessary.

Just me and the dog said...

I took a hard look at my eating habits when my daughters turned Vegan last year. And one of the changes I made was to be more conscious about where my meat comes from. I now mostly stick to organic or game (as you say, the animals have at least led a natural life) and am totally avvoiding traditionally farmed pork and poultry, as it seems to me that these animals especially live miserable lives, even in Norway.

Exmoorjane said...

Thanks for the replies, guys... No need for apologies, Tattie! It's all so easy to forget, when you're in a supermarket, that that piece of meat all neatly prepared and packaged was once an animal - and that said animal might have lived and died in horrible circumstances.
As you say, Bear, good farmers do care for their animals' you know, I live in a very rural area and know many such farmers...though many are now having to's a difficult equation to balance.
And yes, Dancer - if I ate meat I would try to stick to organic or game. The reason I first went vegetarian (many many years ago - when I was in my twenties) was because I had to do a report on the meat industry and what I found out turned my stomach. Not just because of the poor animal welfare but because of the health implications for us humans eating it. :(

Nicola Vincent-Abnett said...

I eat meat, reared locally and organically. I eat small portions two or three times a week, and I bloody enjoy it. I also make a point of eating the entire animal. We love all offal, and eat artisan sausages and faggots, tongue and sweetmeats, and anything else we can get our hands on.

I still remember the taste of my grandmother's home potted tongue and her brawn.

There's very little duller than a chicken breast or a fillet steak.

Feed an animal cheaply and stress it out and it will, literally, taste bad.

Exmoorjane said...

@Addy - ay, that's the old way...and, to my mind, the only right way if you're gonna eat meat. Use every last bit - even the squeak.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Exmoorjane said...

@ET - the karate sheep, huh? In two cutlets. :)

Greg said...

Meat eater here. Grrr! (thumps chest).

I remember a lot of controversy in NZ re live sheep exports. These were carried out to provide Halal meat. I have nothing against the Muslim religion whatsoever, but I am totally against live exports.

Anonymous said...

May I just add a line from the movie Hombre. "If you were starving,'d eat dog."

Exmoorjane said...

@Greg - you caveman! :)

@Jobo - that sounds familiar...think you've quoted that to me before. And yeah, for sure... But who's talking about starving? :)