whether to eat meat reactionary veganism

How I Decided Whether to Eat Meat – Part 4: Reactionary Veganism

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

For the next two weeks I sat in a purgatorial existance, flip-flopping between reactive veganism (I stopped buying yoghurt and cheese) and seeking out a chance to hand-slaughter an animal. Steak tartare vs David’s ram. Bernard vs Theresa.

Theresa’s family tree would face an uncertain future if the world were to go vegan, many breeds have little use outside of being raised, killed, cooked and eaten. They’re certainly not the same as the native wild boars that wreaked havoc across agricultural land in England during medieval times, tearing up crops and occasionally attacking sheep. Such a menace, they were subsequently hunted to extinction along with wolves, lynxes and beavers, because not only were they a threat to agriculture, they also made good sport and fine eating.

Theresa and her sisters were born and raised exclusively to be eaten, so the path of their demise was an inevitability which…

meeting pigs eating meat

How I Decided Whether to Eat Meat – Part 3: Meeting Theresa and When Animals Die

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Entering Andy’s farm, there was a garden centre feeling to it. Not a kitsch, OAP populated tea room, but an absence of the sprawling, muddy, farmyard surrounded by barns stacked with hay and tractors. The driveway was lined on both sides with potted plants of all sizes, from waist-high saplings through to towering specimens, as if we were entering a nursery for rare and exotic plants, before the driveway finally opened out, with the requisite hay-filled barns loomed into view.

Andy is an avid horticulturalist, growing various unusual bamboos on his labyrinthine farm, which has been developed from bare fields and a caravan into a rural idyl with a farmhouse over the last twenty-odd years. There’s also a plethora of unusual looking chickens, geese, sheep, cows and the reason for our visit – rare breed pigs. Specifically, the three sisters, a black-haired, enthusiastic and talkative trio who…

Tamworth black pig

How I Decided Whether to Eat Meat – Part 2: It’s an Eating Dog World

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Have you ever been asked what your ‘death row’ meal would be? If you were to be strapped into old sparky tomorrow, what would be your choice of dinner tonight? At this point I’d like to introduce the hero, or perhaps villain, of the story, and my death row meal — Steak tartare.

Raw meat and fish are manna from heaven, some of my favourite foods are eaten raw, such as oysters, sashimi and steak tartare. Consuming flesh raw puts heightened demands on the quality and freshness of the meat and increases the personal connection with the source of the food, it feels a more visceral, primal form of consumption when no heat has been involved.

Steak tartare is an opulent dish, eaten perhaps once a year, on the rare occasion that I find myself in a restaurant that serves it. It stands as my favourite dish in the world, because…

Tamworth black pig

How I Decided Whether to Eat Meat – Part 1: Spiking Vegetarians

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Meat has received a lot of criticism recently, yet, in itself, it’s done nothing wrong. What has served up a big heap of wrong is society’s relationship with meat and the food industry’s pursuit of it, on a global level.

This is the first of a six-part story of meat and how I decided whether to continue eating it.

Spiking Vegetarians

My childhood diet was firmly in the meat ’n’ two veg category. Cooking was the sole responsibility of my mother, who, despite adventurous tendencies, relied on the formulaic meat plus carbs and veg principle. Grilled chicken breasts, sausages, a piece of fish or pork chops, surrounded by vegetables and spuds, or a good smattering of spag bol made with beef mince and slippery pasta.
Birthdays gave the birthdee free-reign over dinner, choosing whatever delicious morsels their stomach craved and my favourite treat was a meat fondue. A…

sustainability awkward

Sustainability — The Most Awkward Word in Food

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Sustainability. What a word, eh? Just look at it, all six of it’s magnificently uncomfortable syllables lined up in a row, begging to be used as frequently as possible in government, the corporate world or as shorthand for anyone who wishes to demonstrate how planetarily woke they are. Making potato peel crisps or porridge patties? That’s REAL LIFE sustainability happening right before your eyes.

In reality, sustainability is a bit dull, you can’t go out on date night for some sexy sustainability, or have a quiet Sunday relaxing on the sofa with some sustainability. It’s not a hobby or a team sport, you can’t get together with your pals on a Tuesday evening at the local leisure centre and play a few rounds of sustainability. Sustainability is like a beautiful butterfly, fluttering around, touching everything we see, yet, should we reach out to grasp it, it will evade our capture…

Food is Complex as Hell and Your Cause is Not the Only Answer

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Yesterday I attended a talk at Hay Festival entitled ‘Feeding the Nine Billion’, which very quickly qualified that the large population growth predicted for the next thirty years will almost exclusively be found in developing countries.

This news is no surprise, it’s long been acknowledged that parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America are growing at a rapid rate and this is where our ‘global community’ will be developing the most. The chair, Jonathon Harrington, an agronomy advisor and fierce proponent of GM crops, began by saying this was the most important question of the day and wanted to see how we could solve it in an hour.

For a discussion of developing world issues, it was acutely amusing that this talk featured the whitest audience I’ve seen at a food talk for a long time, and that’s really saying something, for a genre of events which is famed for…