Friday, 9 January 2009

Huntin', Shootin' and Jesus.

I do not have a television, preferring not to numb my brain with other peoples inanities when I can provide my own free of charge, but now and again I catch wind of a programme that I would like to have watched. Usually, if I make the effort to watch them, I regret it, but the BBCiPlayer on the Internet makes life easier. Recently there has been a series on the iPlayer (this may be old news to those of you who are plumbed in to the mains supply) called 'Kill it, cook it, eat it', where a group of people are taken to a Lodge in the Highlands of Scotland and encouraged to shoot, kill, butcher and eat their own food. Being a Highland shooting lodge, things are eminently civilised. here is a charming Laird, who really tries, successfully, to connect with the more city based anti-shooting vegetarians who come. The real star of the show though is the head gamekeeper, who makes no effort at all to make lift comfortable for the visitors, nor does he need to, it all come naturally to him, he is kindness personified to them, even to the screaming fanatics.

Now, I am no stranger to Highlands shooting lodges, but this one is seriously impressive and in possession of a very well stocked estate, with deer, rabbits, all kinds of furred and feathered game, most of which need shooting to keep the numbers down, indeed it is a legal obligation for landowners to do so, to protect the countryside from the damage which overpopulation does. To do so in one of Europe's last great wildernesses is a privilege and bloody hard work, hence if parties of people want to come and pay for the pleasure, so be it. The land is conserved, people are provided with meat and the remaining animals have less fear of starvation.

I am generally distrustful of vegetarians and I find veganism to be close to sin. Taking vitamin supplements to augment your diet and claiming that the human body is not meant to digest meat is foolishness. Milking cows - necessary to their life - and throwing the milk away is as sinful as throwing away money and the means to one persons sustenance. Arguing that certain animals reared for food should be extinct - for this is the outcome of Veganism - is to look after the world God has given us badly and leads to starvation without the advance of science which produces the pills needed to live a life which our bodies need, to cripple a temple of the Holy Ghost or to keep it going on vitamin supplements voluntarily is, again, a departure from the gift of life lived as God intended. Urban affectations are well and good, but as a woman from Uganda said on last nights programme when told that eating meat was cruel, 'meat is not cruel, I will tell you what is cruel, war is cruel, starvation is cruel, children and babies dying of AIDS is cruel, rape is cruel, meat is not cruel, meat has kept this world alive for its entire existence.' Quite right, vegetarians and vegans live on an ecosystem and in a body founded on the rearing and consumption of meat, eaten by Christ, eaten by the Patriarchs, eaten for food in every generation.

So, these people come to Scotland. The urban warriors in camo gear itching to shoot something (would you give them guns? Not me!), the vegans, the meat phobics and the undecided, the lapsed vegetarians and the borderline vegetarians, as well as a large number who thought that all meat is cruelly reared in cages and slaughtered filled with fattening chemicals, a practice I deplore and will not support. Going out and shooting your own meat is pretty easy. It moves, you shoot it, sounds like sport and it is surprising how many vegetarians will shoot the clays but not the birds, thinking, in an inversion of logic, that the bird is a continuation of the clay, rather than the need to shoot the bird coming first. Butchering them is another matter entirely, but one which has given me a greater respect for animals and a horror of throwing meat or any food away. It has clearly had the same effect on the head gamekeeper, who, with a courteous and matter of fact manner, shows the novices how to butcher a carcass, skin and gut it. How infinitely better than the slaughterhouse, with electric prods and men gutting row and row of carcasses for the supermarket.

In the end, the meat is taken to the kitchen, chopped up and cooked, the volunteers then eat it. That a television programme is needed to show people how natural and good and necessary to ecology the consumption of meat is, is sad, but I am glad it has been made and glad that such a wholesome, normal, good bunch of people are shown helping the novices do so.

Anyway, with that rant over, can I interest you in THIS ARTICLE? It is written by Howard Jacobson, a local author (very local to me, I live in the centre of two orthodox Jewish areas) who wrote, probably most famously, 'Kalooki Nights', a novel set a mile down the road from me. I heard him speaking a couple of years ago at the Portico Dinner and was impressed, this article gives nothing new (to me anyway), but food for thought is there in abundance.