For The Love Of Beef

The UK’s Relationship With Meat

(Published on Urban Times)

With the recent badger cull raising the respite from animal welfare troopers across the South West, what hasn’t been heralded is the proven adoration for protecting our beef.

Cows are protected and worshiped in India but it is less easily realised that here in the UK, and with the importance of sustaining our most popular chosen form of meat, we have a different way of showing our appreciation. With yearly ‘festivals’ like the Royal Welsh Show in Mid Wales, variant forms of cattle take centre stage with their beauty, strength and for many, our day to day dietary needs surpassing other agricultural breeds.

Trying to eliminate another species for the benefit of the other does question the age-old theory ‘survival of the fittest’ and it does bring to light the fact that humans having interfered from the start are having to play God. Looking beyond the hunting of an extortionate amount of smaller mammals for the protection of a much larger and unarguably more important to sustain the UK consumers’ love of beef. In light of the larger picture of the badger cull, it really can be a sigh of relief that we obviously do care about cows, we just have a less gracious way of showing it perhaps than that in the Middle East.

Beef production cycle (typical systems via UKAgriculture.com)

Beef production cycle (typical systems via UKAgriculture.com)

But as different newspapers have reported, the cull has had mixed reactions. Protestors against the cull have been told the facts and statistics backing the imposed idea and if it does save farmers from seeing their livelihood and stock suffering and ultimately have to be slaughtered, this is merely an act to wean out problems within that chain. In the larger picture, there are much worse things happening around us – particularly with Syria.

For those who have opted, for whatever reason, to not eat meat there is nothing worse than someone saying to you: “If we didn’t eat cows and sheep, there would be no need for them!” How can that be true? Sure the reproduction rate would be lower so therefore a smaller population in certain areas, but chances are they’d still be here whether we ate them or not. This process of artificial selection of the best breeds to reproduce and create these super mammals is an odd thing to really think about. And we do it quite regularly from cows to sheep to dogs and cats. This doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate them and it’s never going to be a case of redoing that act or being able to convince people that animals should have choices. It’s just not something we consider.

If possible, there should be a gentle sway to a happy medium between mass production (aka McDonaldization) of meat products and the more free range form of penning these animals (seeing them as that and not just food) could result in less disease and general malfunctioning of the above ‘system’. This isn’t a quiet appeal to break down farmers’ ideas of how they should rear their well-looked-after stock, they know more than you and I the systems to provide us with consumable products, this is merely highlighting how if we truly cared about these animals’ survival we’d want to up the chance of keeping them alive and healthy. Steps can be made even further than the attempted reduction of bovine TB by putting aside our greediness for our favourite roasts, we could quite easily lend an even more profound hand in their overall health and happiness…but maybe not to take it quite as literally as this Cornish farmer.

Featured image: Copyright of Kelsi Farrington

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