DawnWatch: "The Friend I had for Lunch" — Daily Mail, Saturday March 3, 2007

March 3rd, 2007 3:26 pm by Kelly Garbato

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From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Mar 3, 2007 2:16 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: “The Friend I had for Lunch” — Daily Mail, Saturday March 3, 2007

The Saturday, March 3, Daily Mail (London) has a terrific article, by Tom Rawstorne, headed, “The Friend I had for Lunch.”

He opens discussing “four slices of meat, carved from a saddle of lamb,” and writes:

“Just the job normally, a real favourite, but today I can’t stomach it. I try, cutting off a sliver and putting it in my mouth, but have to force myself to swallow, and it’s all I can do to hold that morsel down, to stop myself throwing up there and then.

“The trouble is the lunch and I are somewhat over-acquainted. We first met on a hillside on Dartmoor on Tuesday afternoon. Together with farmer Brian Lavis, I picked out the nine-month-old lamb from a skittering flock, and on Wednesday followed behind as it was transported to an abattoir in Dorset, where we met, briefly, again that night.

“The following morning I returned at daybreak, to watch as Faw-Faw, my fluffy friend, was turned from mammal to meat — electrocuted, throat-slit, beheaded and skinned. An abattoir worker then carved a slice from the carcass’s steaming hindquarters and handed the still-twitching flesh to me in a plastic bag. I took it away and an hour later cooked it, and now it’s on my fork, in my mouth, then sliding haltingly down my throat.”

The experience was part of a BBC TV series, “Kill It, Cook It, Eat It” which “will show lambs, pigs and cattle being slaughtered in an abattoir” in “an attempt to question modern Britain’s relationship with the food we eat — to reconnect people with the animals that fill the shrink-wrapped packets of meat they buy in the supermarket.”

Rawstorne writes:

“The truth is, of course, that like most people, I try not to think about it too deeply. I eat meat because I like the taste of it, and don’t want thoughts of butchery and brutality to spoil that pleasure.

“But turn the clock back to Tuesday afternoon and I’ve nowhere to hide. I’m in the middle of a five-acre field near Launceston, Cornwall, wondering how one goes about choosing one’s lunch when the menu’s got four legs and a fleece.

Of the lamb he chooses he writes:

“He’s a decent-sized chap, full of life, and he bucks and kicks as I sink a hand into his fleece to steady him, so I can spray a blue streak of marker-paint down his back to aid identification. Released, he runs off to join his chums and enjoy his last few hours of freedom.”

We learn that the lamb has relative freedom because he comes from a company with “the highest welfare standards” and that the meat is “more expensive than the standard fare.”

The man who raises the lamb is quoted: “We have eaten meat for a very long time and I would venture that if an animal has lived a good life, it is better than not having lived at all, and that is what would happen if people stopped eating meat altogether.

“The fields would be empty of sheep and cattle, they would not exist. The lambs have had a good life. It is going to end for some of them but that is OK.”

Later Rawstorne makes clear that he realizes that is not typical:

“I’m very aware that what I’ve seen is top practice — a good farmer producing a welllooked after animal that is killed as humanely as possible in a well-run abattoir. This is not how the majority of meat we eat is produced, and that should be real cause for concern.”

Rawstorne also describes a childhood school excursion to a chicken paste factory:

“Whether the outing was intended to be educational, or was in fact some sort of punishment, I am unsure (the presence of ‘Killer’ Carnegie, the school’s PE teacher, on the trip may well have been significant) but it has remained with me ever since.

“In stunned silence we watched chicken after chicken being hung by their feet from a conveyor belt before being electrocuted, having their throats slit and then immersed in boiling water to remove their feathers.

“The finale was watching a hangar-full of hair-netted women pick the flesh from the carcasses as they passed by on a conveyor belt. I have never eaten chicken paste since. I was put off by the smell and the sights and, anyway, it’s not that much of a sacrifice.”

Rawstorne again describes the killing of the lamb:

“The following morning at 7.30am he’s herded the 50 yards from death row to the abattoir. It is a clinical place, where the animals are hooked up and slaughtered efficiently. The slaughterman places a giant pair of tongs about his head, and a massive jolt of electricity renders him instantly unconscious.

“He’s then hooked onto an overhead conveyor belt by his rear legs, and a single sweep of a knife severs the carotid artery in the throat. This process takes about ten seconds. Suspended upside down, the lamb’s still-beating heart pumps a flood of blood on to the floor for about one minute. Faw-Faw is no more.

“I’m doing fine so far but it’s the transition from sheep to meat that gets me. As he passes down the line his feet and head are cut off, the pelt peeled back and the guts tumbled out.

“The carcass is steaming and I feel nauseous, a feeling that reaches cheek-bulging proportions when I place a hand on the pink, slightly sticky, ribcage. It’s hot and the flesh is soft, gelatinous. And yet no longer alive. A few yards on and the bureaucracy kicks on. The carcass is weighed, visually checked for signs of disease, stamped by the inspectors and then a joint of meat cut out and handed to me. I hold it in my bare hands and feel that heat again, the muscles ticking, the flesh twitching, and enough’s enough. I’m out of there.

“An hour later, I’m back at Richard’s farmhouse near Warminster, and have pulled myself together enough to place that same piece of meat in the oven, a sprinkling of dried rosemary and a bit of garlic on top.

“Some 40 minutes on and out it comes. It looks and smells delicious. I try to eat a piece but twice have to spit it out. Something about it, its animal smell I think, reminds me too much of that slaughterhouse. The third mouthful I manage to swallow — I persevere, because in a way I feel I owe it to Faw-Faw. What a waste otherwise.”

He writes: “I reflect on the experience and am surprised how much it has affected me.

You can read the whole article on line here OR http://tinyurl.com/2xfnwx.

And you can submit a comment about the thoughtful piece, and singing the praises of plant based diets right at the bottom of that page.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

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