Published in October 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Eating meat raises huge environmental, ethical and health issues. It is also a natural pleasure with important cultural resonances: turning vegetarian means you will never again share that special meat dish you loved as a child. So can we combine caring for animals with eating them? To be, in the words of Louise Gray, an ethical carnivore?
Gray, a former environment correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, investigates the question in this sensitive and powerful new book. She decides that for a year she will only eat animals she has killed personally. The setup enables her to explore what it feels like to shoot a rabbit (emotionally harder than this farmer’s daughter had expected), skin a deer and visit an abattoir.
The abattoirs are especially challenging: one visit “looks like the post-massacre scene from a gangster movie.” In the last few years, the number of abattoirs in the UK has fallen from a thousand to 200. Hygiene regulations mean that ad hoc slaughtering in a butcher’s yard is a thing of the past. What we now have is an industrialised process that treats the animals as meat before they’re dead.