Saturday, 29 January 2011

Omni-watching #1, feathers flying

Ok, this is a recap of an old episode, but for some reason it was in my mind today. There may be more posts along those lines soon.

I have to admit that I rather enjoy the Channel 4 show Come Dine With Me, especially the omnibus edition where you see everyone's party one after the other. Yes this is probably mildly hypocritical since the meals involved are rarely vegan. You do get the odd vegetarian or vegan, some of them even win or get close to it. (others are somewhat annoying, but this goes for many of the omni guests too so who cares) I like it when there's a cool, interesting person refusing to eat animals, raising some of the issues in a non-obnoxious way, and producing something impressive for their party. This strikes me as a great way to get the message beyond the vegan bubble. (For the episodes with no vegetarians/vegans, I just enjoy watching the people and seeing how they interact with each other, and occasionally I take note of what spices they're using and think about what I could replace the meat in certain dishes with.) Anyway, justifying my viewing habits wasn't really the point of this post!

One of the more memorable episodes involved a three-bird roast. I won't go into the gory details of what this is, you can probably imagine, and to be honest I found the idea rather horrible. Not, however, the most offensive way humans have come up with to consume other species' mortal remains. The point here is that one of the omni guests on the show was quite openly horrified by what was being dished up - 'It's a BIRD IN A BIRD IN A BIRD', she squawked, making rather a fuss. I understand why omnis have these squicks, why some don't want to eat baby lambs but don't share the same feelings about what are fundamentally somewhat overgrown baby chickens, and so on ad nauseum. This doesn't mean I won't point out the inconsistency if someone is being loud and obnoxious over not consuming one species when they eat all others - why are you worrying about those three lives, and not about the many other animals you have eaten? Anyway, long story short, she continued to rant and rave over the bird-in-a-bird-in-a-bird (ok, I lied the teensiest bit about not sharing the gory details) for the rest of the arc. Then, at the final party, she was happily eating lamb and conversation turned to the creature's provenance. The host from the Night of the Three Birds couldn't resist a jibe, along the lines of 'and now it's DEAD, on YOUR PLATE'. For some reason people seemed to think she was being mean. Personally, although she had cooked a rather offensive dish including the corpse of one of my favourite animals, I could completely see her point.

As I said before, I can understand favouring some species, maybe having a special affinity with certain animals (with me it is ducks) and finding some animal products more offensive than others. I first went vegetarian at the ripe old age of nine or ten after realising where little baa-lambs went, and indeed my first step was to not eat lamb. What confuses me is when people feel these stirrings and somehow it doesn't trigger them to look at the bigger picture and just consider that all animals might be worthy of the same compassion and the same outrage...


Jenny said...

Must say I also found the bird-in-a-etc thing pretty gross and I do eat meat. You may disagree but I don't think it's inconsistent to consider eating one bird fine but three wasteful (both environmentally and also due to the taking of three lives.) I don't pretend that I make this calculation every time I consider what I eat but I guess the bird-in-etc meal drives home the wastefulness point pretty strongly which is why I personally find it an unpleasant offering. I can appreciate you'd no doubt see eating any meat as wasteful but for me I am happy with a limited consumption (which has varied at different points in my life).

Kommoner said...

@Jenny So eating the three birds in the one meal over time would not take just as long as eating the three birds in three meals over time? I don't see the logic sorry; either way it's wasting life for your tastebuds.

@Original post I totally understand where you're coming from. "Oh I won't eat lamb, that's just messed up". But eating animals that have lived for a few weeks? A few years? The length of their life changes things somehow? How can you put more value on the life of your cat as opposed to the life of a pig? It's not based on their relative intelligence, but their social status. Cats truly are lucky.