What, no more Wienerschnitzel?

Well, of course you can wipe out veal. Unless you are interested in food, I do not see how this matters much. There are peoples who live on seal blubber and others largely on rice. There are even some zealots who live on apples alone. And Saint Si mon ofthe Stylites, not to be confused with Simon Zelotes, patron of fishmongers, lived 40 years on pillars, the last of which was 66ft high. Chacun son supplice, or to each man his torment, as the Marquis de Sade might have said. God knows what Simon S tylites ate, but it did not matter to him.

As far as I am concerned, however, food is one of the consolations of life: like art, families, children and friends. A life without veal has one simple consequence: it eliminates a big section of the gastronomic repertory. n For instance, it wipes out about 75 per cent of Italian meat dishes and one of the few glories of Austrian cuisine, the Wienerschnitzel. More importantly, it erases some of the most subtle of dishes, all those in which the meat component is subordinate to the delicacy of the sauce in which it is cooked.

I will pay my obeisance to humane slaughtering up front.Since calves and humans share the same fate, that of being born to die, I am happier if we all have a good life first. But the heart of the matter about food is that you have choice. n Only the poordo not have choice, and they do not read newspapers either, so they eat what they can, whether it is politically correct or not. So, given the chance, does everyone down the feed-line: from shark to shrimp. Nor is the vegetable kingdom free of mayhem for fodder. Should the Venus fly-trap stop molesting flies?

No one forces anyone to eat veal, meat or anything else. Vegetarians are welcome in God's many mansions, for in Eden there were only fruit and veg. But I take unkindly to the zealots who tell me what I should do. n I am always amazed, with the number of things that preoccupy me, from earning a living to ordinary survival, from concern over the many injustices in the world to earning salvation, that there are still people who have so much leisure and outrage.

As Emily Green has pointed out on these pages, a little hypocrisy goes a long way, and we all know what idle hands make. In Britain as in America, veal is as unknown as kangaroo, or anything green to an Argentine. Good veal is rare. n Good veal, like good anything, is best reared and slaughtered in natural conditions. Like any part of the food-chain, it is best when it ingests its natural feed: in the case of veal, its mother's milk first and, if it is slaughtered after weaning, good, fresh, sweet grass. All forms of industrial farming are bad for flavour, texture and nutrition.

That said, if we are going to eat things that we kill, whether it is pulling up a lettuce or throttling a hen, then veal is not merely a delicacy, fit only for the elite; it is also a reasonable, healthy, nutritious and delectable food, and if we as a nation do not "like" it, more's the pity.

We can grow fine veal, but we do not. We could eat it, but we have never had it. Most of the veal some of us may have tried in restaurants is Dutch. Like everything else in the Netherlands except fresh fish, it is without flavour.

I say it is a reasonable price, but I am told it is expensive. Both opinions are true. The fact is that where a reasonable steak, to be properly cooked, should be at least a half-inch thick and therefore weigh at least 6oz, veal should be eaten very thin: 100g of veal will do where 200g of beef will not. Why is this? Well, because veal should be barely cooked, otherwise it hardens. So, to cook it quickly, it is sliced prodigiously thin and then flattened. n Why are veal and veal stock such favourites among chefs? Answer: because the flavour is more unobtrusive than that of any other meat, and thus it can be used in an almost infinite number of ways. Why is it healthy? Because it contains a minimum of fat.

Faced with modern cooking requirements (economy, minimum preparation, health consciousness, no fuss, speedy preparation), I would choose veal, pork and fish nine times out of 10, and in that order: fish coming last simply because it is now more expensivethan meat and less reliable.

But I would choose veal especially because, were it readily available and were we allowed to navigate safely through this fug of "concern" and compassion (kindly show me a compassionate animal), it is so splendidly simple to prepare. n A Wienerschnitzel (or a Milanese cutlet or a Fiorentina, or a piccata al limone) all take less than 10 minutes from conception to table.

There is no waste. There is no mystique about what to serve with it or drink with it. Veal goes with anything. If surveys show that as a nation we think it has no flavour, that is a reflection on our cooking, or on the veal we can obtain, not on the meat.

If, as she reaches her 99th birthday, you were to tell my mother there was no more veal, she who has eaten little else in the way of meat all her life would ask: "Why ever not?"

If I told her it was because of the cruelty of a calf's life, she would understand. She has lived through nigh on a century of cruelty and she would not wish it on any living creature, even a fly (mosquitoes are excepted). But she would say: "We're all going to die anyway."

And then she would shake her head and ask why so many of the pleasures of life have been diminished since she was born.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Morrissey pictured in 2013
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices