Killing several fatted calves with one stone


There are two types of vegetarian: those who don't eat meat or fish, and those who don't eat meat, draw the line at renouncing fish but still call themselves vegetarians. On the strength of this blithe hypocrisy, your correspondent has elected to swell the vegetarian ranks. Of course, this won't involve any change in eating habits: meat will continue to be the lion's share of my diet but, crucially, nothing that comes out of water will pass these lips. Except seaweed.

This regime will, as it were, kill several birds with one stone: it saves the lives of countless fish; it contributes to world harmony, reducing by a small percentage the size of the catch that all those bolshy Atlantic trawlermen argue over; and it makes me feel like a good person, which is far more important to vegetarians than feeling like a healthy person.

The one problem is veal. In the current climate, it's quite difficult for anyone to feast on a recently slaughtered calf and feel like a good person. As part of the research for this review, I even tried it the other night. Animal Crackers (BBC2) is in the third week of an imaginative attempt to hear all sides of the topical argument. So far we've had, in 15-minute bursts, the campaigner and the farmer. Next week, doubtless to tie in with The Vet (BBC1, tomorrow), we get the vet. The week after, God help us, it's the theologian.

Last night was the turn of the cook Jennifer Paterson. This game old bird sportingly underwent a tasting test involving white veal, the anaemic variety that has a bum ride in planes from Coventry and ships from Brightlingsea. She sampled slices of veal and pork which lurked under an overbearing mushroom sauce. Needless to say, she identified the veal as pork and the pork as veal. When even a cook doesn't know which dead animal she's eating, the abolitionists have their best case yet for imposing a ban on veal consumption. Let them eat pig, except in certain parts of north London.

After that, it all fell into place: a programme granting the platform to a notorious flesh-eater was the work of a crack troop of undercover veggivores. These are vegetarian secret agents, planted all over the media, who like to sink their teeth into meat-eaters.The Spectator's cookery writer was an irresistibly juicy meal.

As we watched the crash-helmeted Paterson mount her chugging moped and charge off in search of ossobuco at the butcher, the soundtrack caught the thrill of the chase with snatches of a hunting tune from a Mozart horn concerto. Some satire is performed with a forklift truck; this was done with a tuning fork.

But in the task of taking the mickey, the veggivores had some unwitting assistance from the lady herself. She stole the theologian's thunder by saying the Bible sanctions meat-eating. If you read the small print closely enough, you'll probably find that the Good Book lets you visit all sorts of atrocities on the fatted calf before you kill it.

And anyway, she added, "the average vegetarian I know looks jolly ill". You had to see her saying this to appreciate the full absurdity of the statement. Why is it that only the fatter carnivores think of meat-eating as a keep-fit class you can do in your own kitchen?

This spat will run and run, rather like the witnesses for the defence of veal crates summoned by Patterson. "They take expensive racehorses in aeroplanes," she offered. So they do. And then they deliver them direct to an abattoir, where they are summarily executed, strung up and hacked into bite-sized pieces. Like most of the arguments crammed into this small space and shipped onto your screen, that point is known as a Red Rum: an old chestnut that's long ago been put out to grass.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

    Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit