The Benefits of Eating Meat
I watched that Climate Change Festival on Sky Arts, which was a mistake. It was held at the London Coliseum, my favourite theatre, by English National Opera. It was droll, joyless and portentous. Apart from saving the rainforest and the oceans, it demanded that we eat less meat. On this latter point, I suspect that the organisers were metropolitans, people with no understanding of the countryside. Indeed, how many of these have a personal agenda? I understand how vegetarians and vegans feel, but their beliefs must be challenged. However, so much ignorance leapt out of the literary choices used in this programme. Shakespeare was quoted, a man who lived on a British cuisine of steak, cheese, butter and eggs. Was it that diet, food that feeds the brain, that made him so talented? The benefits of eating meat cannot be underestimated.
A further oddity was when John Suchet quoted Wordsworth. His choice was Tintern Abbey, my favourite poem from the prophet of nature. It is perhaps the greatest ever writing in the English language. Strange, isn’t it, how everybody ignores staid old Wordsworth, except when they want an erudite quote on nature. However, they also ignored Wordsworth’s home base of Grasmere, his village in the Lake District. He lived on local produce, not least the meat from the farmer and butcher within walking distance of Dove Cottage. That meat was the product of photosynthesis, the conversion of boring old grass into dairy products. Wordsworth’s brilliant brain was meat fed. He wrote his poems beside fields full of cows. His muse, often the singing birds, fed on dung beetles.
Close to the soil
Out here, in the Peak District sticks, farmers struggle to live. Other than farming, there is little else left to employ people. Many of the farmers keep threatened species of cattle, sheep, goats and chickens (see one of my local Dexter cows in the photo). These creatures survive only because they provide meat or eggs. If we stop the eating of meat or eggs, they will disappear. I care about that; it would be a terrible loss. Consequently, without animals, the farmers will plough the fields to grow crops. That will be catastrophic as it will release all the carbon in the grass covered soil. They will spread artificial fertilisers and pollute our watercourses.
I have a health issue that makes me vulnerable to anaemia. As we get older, many of us cannot absorb iron. However, much as I love vegetables, they cannot give me the iron I need. The drivel written about spinach is a falsehood. Because it is non heme iron, the little it truly contains is difficult for the human gut to absorb. Consequently, I have been told by my consultant to eat liver, black pudding and meat generally. Also, it is evident that diets low on milk and meat create other issues, not least in being low on calcium and tending towards bone weakness. However, it is also a travesty to live on imported rice, pasta, tofu and almonds and ignore the benefits of grass fed British farming.
The benefits of eating meat
I love animals and support proper care in farming. However, I cannot ignore the facts. When Shakespeare and Wordsworth survived on a meat based diet, the countryside was swathed in invertebrate life, in birds and animals. It is not British farming that is the problem, at least where it utilises grass. Blame it on factory farming, on supermarkets and other finance based practices over the years. It is also due to the unrestricted increase in the human population, mostly due to religious dogma. Here, in a village where the waft of manure means jobs and good health, meat rules.