Sun, Jul-21-19, 00:34
Ex-vegetarian: "We should be able to eat meat and do so ethically"
From The Sunday Times
21 July, 2019
Ex-vegetarian mum’s shooting list fed her family for a year: 125 pigeons, 80 pheasants and partridges, 40 ducks and four deer
In the past year Rachel Carrie has shot and cooked one roe, one fallow and two muntjac deer, about 80 pheasants and partridges, 40 ducks and more than 125 pigeons.
Trips to the meat counter are rare because her family eats only what they kill. Her teenage son has been eating game since the age of four.
Yet Carrie, 35, who was a vegetarian as a girl and says she is an animal lover who has nursed injured wildlife back to health, believes that vegetarians and vegans should regard her as an ally.
“Vegetarians and vegans, shooters and hunters need to be educated,” she says. “We are not the enemy. We have common ground.”
She will present her case next Sunday in a debate at The Game Fair, the country’s biggest gathering of hunters and shooters, at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire.
The real-life Barbara Good, fictional star of the 1970s’ sitcom The Good Life — in which Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers try to be self-sufficient in Surbiton, southwest London — has a middle-class lifestyle in a barn conversion in Yorkshire. She hunts to fill the fridge with the consent of farmers and other landowners.
Carrie said she became a vegetarian as a seven-year-old, and stuck with it for five years, because she was so upset to discover the realities of factory farming.
But she became conflicted when her father acquired a Harris’s hawk, a bird of prey that catches small mammals, insects and rodents, and took her out rabbiting. “I wouldn’t eat meat or shop-bought beef or chicken but I would quite happily sit and eat rabbit stew. I was quite at home with eating something where I had seen where it lived, if that makes sense.”
She said that when she went deer stalking “you place a clean shot straight through the heart and that animal never knew you were there. It didn’t suffer, it wasn’t scared. it didn’t get transported miles and miles to an abattoir.”
She argued that vegetarian lifestyles may unwittingly lead to the displacement or killing of wildlife.
“How many millions of acres of ecosystem get destroyed to grow their crops? How many millions of animals die from farmers protecting their crops?”
Carrie said she shared many of the objections to meat held by vegetarians. “By being a hunter you can still get the nutritional benefits of meat but without the guilt. You do not have the animal welfare issues.
“Nobody can be perfect so we have to make the most ethical choices we can. It should not be about pitting each other’s choices against each other. We should be able to eat meat and do so ethically.”
Carrie, whose job as an environmental impact assessor involves reducing food waste, said: “I can tell you, when you spend all day finding your food, the last thing you want to do is waste any of it.
“We like to pluck game as a family. This time spent preparing our food makes you appreciate it more: seeing the bird in its natural state is much better than seeing it wrapped in plastic cling film.”
Carrie, who will publish Game and Gatherings, a recipe book, in October, said: “There’s an abundance of game in the UK and it would be good to have more people eating it.”
But she insisted she was not trying to get other people to join her in hunting, “and I don’t want to turn a vegan into a meat eater”.
Nick Palmer, head of Compassion in World Farming UK, said: “We welcome this kind of contribution to the debate. We do feel that it is good if people eat less meat or no meat but if they are going to eat meat, let’s have it done on the basis that it is not wasted and not produced cruelly.”