March 10th, 2004

I was vegetarian for seven years as a private protest against factory farming.

Everything in life feeds on something else; that is the rule of survival As humans who now live by farming not by hunting, there is an urgent ethical question; is it right to mistreat animals in the name of food?

I keep hens. I know they don’t want to live in a cage smaller than your newspaper. Your average roasting chicken lives locked up for twelve weeks, stuffed full of meal that includes animal waste and antibiotics, then, usually with a wing broken or a deformed foot, is decapitated by machine and sold as ‘farm fresh.’

Don’t get me wrong; I can wring a chicken’s neck and eat the bird the same night, just as I can shoot pheasants, hang and pluck them. I know that we live in a chain of being, but I want my part to be humane and without hypocrisy.
It is not wrong to eat meat. It is wrong to tether pigs in concrete stalls, rear veal in cages and feed animals their own remains.

Cheap food? If you can afford to hire a video or buy a pint at the pub, you can afford meat that has been treated well.

I started eating meat again when Organic farming gave us a chance of clean, honest food. I don’t eat meat every day, and I don’t eat meat in restaurants that hasn’t been decently sourced.

And I never ever eat MacDonald’s.