Instead of the first post for 2013 being another “hottest food trends for 2013″ article (we have MORE than enough of those going around at the moment) I thought I’d give you something to add to your list of resolutions as we kick off a new year. To be more precise, I thought I’d urge you to prioritise the way you eat and the way you view meat. Treat it as a new beginning and a good excuse to make some changes. This isn’t meant to be an overly-serious piece but rather a call to action to take a hard look at the shit you are eating and the atrocities that have been committed to get it on your plate. Okay, wait, this may well be overly-serious.
Inspired by a brilliant book, by a brilliant man (The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) I’d challenge you to read, absorb and actually ACT on my meat manifesto.
2013 Meat Manifesto:
1. Don’t eat meat simply out of habit. Ask questions instead. Pause for a second. Is this meat good enough to actually provide me with pleasure or is it something that I take for granted? Will I forget this meal in a few hours? Could this meat taste better? Should it taste better? Was it cheap or expensive – and, if it was cheap, WHY was it cheap? Maybe better meat is more expansive for a reason. Maybe eating less meat, but meat of a higher quality, is worth considering. Maybe.
2. Think about the animal that gave its life for that piece of meat. Beef is cow. Pork is pig. Meat doesn’t just magically appear in your supermarket aisles. Make the connection. And then ask yourself if you are at all concerned about the way the animals were treated. Have they been fed properly? Have they been treated with respect? And are you sure? How do you know? Did you even ask the person who sold you the meat? Was there even anyone to ask? Perhaps it is time to at least try and find people who seem to be able to answer these questions confidently.
3. Think hard about the way you cook your meat. Do you do it justice? Would you like to know a bit more about how to get the best benefits of various cuts? Because there is plenty of literature out there. Meat is a luxury item and deserves to be treated as such. Arm yourself with knowledge on how to roast, braise, grill, cure etc. and you immediately start looking at meat through different eyes. You respect the meat. You respect the animal that gave its life for the meat.
4. Do you try different things with meat? Do you explore cooking techniques, textures, cheap cuts and offal? There are parts of the animal that nobody ever wants but they are often the best and tastiest cuts of the whole beast! And they’re dirt cheap. Next time you want a fillet of beef, ask yourself: why? If the (wrong in my opinion) answer is you think it’s the tastiest, ask yourself what you are comparing it to. If people explore unusual cuts of meat then the entire animal can be utilised. Another sign of respect.
5. Do you stretch the meat that you buy as far as you can? Do you use leftovers for salads, stews, pasta sauces etc. Are you creative and do you put any effort into turning one meal into two or even three? Some effort and some planning will bring surprising results.
6. Are you willing to accept responsibility? The reason animals are pumped with things like growth hormones and additives is us. And our insatiable demand. As farmers speed up what should be a natural process the animals are the ones who suffer as a result. But the farmers are shirking their ethical responsibilites only because the general public keep snapping up the resulting inferior meat. Are you really ready to stand up and accept that there is a moral dimension that needs to be swallowed along with every bite of meat.
Sheesh, sorry. I got going a bit there didn’t I? But you see where I’m coming from. Instead of making a list with things like “stop smoking” and “go to gym more” on it, do something that counts. Do something that isn’t easy. That’s the point of change isn’t it?
Go forth and eat,