Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Carnivores vs Vegetarians - What do you think?

At Ludlow Food Festival last weekend I chaired a lively debate on Carnivores vs Vegetarians - What does the future hold? Speaking for meat-eaters were Tim Dobson of Chestnut Meats and Adam Glyn Jones of September Organic Dairy; veggies were represented by Das Sreedharan and Keith Squires, both vegetarian chefs. If the two sides didn't quite lock horns, then the points debated were certainly contentious. You might be surprised to hear that the pro-vegetarians were actively encouraging the meat-eaters and the carnivores were all for eating less meat... and both sides made some interesting points, particularly with regards the contribution rearing livestock makes to carbon emissions and how essential pasture land is to transforming the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It was all good-natured fun - mostly - and by the end on a show of hands, it was felt that one of the answers to this conundrum is to eat less meat - but better quality (higher welfare, etc) over the year. I think this is an argument that bears further exploration. Is it better to eat less, high-welfare meat or to abstain completely? If you're a vegetarian, would you prefer that cows, sheep, pigs, etc didn't exist at all or is there a way to get the world farming responsibly? Is farming even a viable existence these days or are farmers just out for the profit - and what role does the government play...? What do you think...?


  1. Before we engage further in this debate could we find another name for those who choose to eat meat than carnivore? Humans are omnivore, and those who choose to be vegetarian could digest meat. It would be distaseful, but not impossible. It leads to animals that are herbivore or graminivore being referred to as vegetarian. My cat is carnivore, I eat meat.

  2. Definitely higher quality meat in smaller amounts it may well go some way to educating the correct size portions and the true value of a world full of finite resources.

  3. I run a blog aimed at showing non-vegetarians (such as myself) that you don't have to be vegetarian to love vegetarian food. Just as what was said above - nobody in this country is an actual carnivore. Even those that eat meat are omnivores and have at least some vegetation in their diets.

    There is much scope for restaurants to realize that there are many people that are not vegetarians but wish to eat less meat.

    If chefs challenged themselves even a little bit they could make wonderful meat free dishes that don't have to have the 'vegetarian' tag on the recipe. Trust me, there world of meat free eating is wider than nut roasts and goats cheese tarts. You wouldn't know it by the looks of my restaurant menus though.

  4. I think that there is a movement amongst the glitterati in the food world, towards the idea of meat as seasoning, almost, with vegetables taking centre stage: viz Nigel Slater's latest opus (which we'll be reviewing in October with a chance to win and featured recipes - just check the homepage) and Simon Hopkinson's new book focusing on vegetarian dishes - or more accurately, dishes which happen not to contain meat.

    Books such as these are a gentle nudge in the right direction - and where Nigel goes, surely we all follow....