Head to head: Chew on this

It's National Vegetarian Week. Time to stop the murder, says vegan musician and DJ Moby. Pig out, says TV omnivore Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Pro-vegetarian

"I'm not very sentimental but I have a basic philosophy that if I can avoid causing suffering then I should. I became a vegetarian when I was 18 or 19. Then, as I found out more about how animals are treated in the creation of animal products, I became a vegan. In most cases factory farming is atrocious. There's a lot of sophistry in the omnivores' arguments. They say human beings have always eaten meat, but most ancient cultures didn't have the resources to sustain meat-eating. Back then, if they killed a zebra, it's not like they had little portable fridges to keep it in. When anthropologists find human remains that are thousands of years old they often find that they were vegetarian. Physiologically we are more similar to herbivores. A cheetah, for example, has a few really sharp teeth for tearing meat and a short digestive system designed to process food quickly. A cow has lots of molars for grinding food down and a long digestive system to extract nutrients over a long period. Humans are much more like the cow.

Everyone in my family used to ridicule me at Thanksgiving for not eating ham or turkey, and now most of them are vegetarian - a lot of them because their doctors have told them that they have to become vegetarian if they want to live long, healthy lives. People see that I'm still healthy and I'm not fat and I don't get sick that often. It seems like every other day there is some new statistic about how animal products are terrible for you.

Most people are quite complacent. They'll happily sit down and eat a hamburger, then they'll get up in arms about genetic modification. It's funny how selective people are. We live in a democracy and people are entitled to eat whatever they want, but you'd be hard-pressed to find an intelligent, civilised person who would continue eating meat after they've seen how it's produced."

Moby's latest album, `Play', is out on Mute Records

Anti-vegetarian

"If you think through the logical conclusion of total abstention from meat-eating, the consequences for the English landscape would be dire. All farm animals would become zoo animals, at best. It's not just at meal times that there would be a big difference in your life. It would happen every time you drove down a road or looked out of a window or stepped out into the countryside. I receive aggressive, threatening mail for having been seen to kill animals on screen and then cook and eat them. But I find a lot of these people are happy to eat a pork sausage from the supermarket; what they don't like is to be reminded where meat comes from.

In answer to the argument that meat isn't very good for you, I'd say eating rubbish isn't very good for you. Rubbish vegetables are the same as rubbish meat. Like anything, too much red meat is certainly bad for you. Last year I raised two pigs. I don't feel like a murderer, but in the final couple of weeks I had to wind down the personal part of our relationship. I wasn't sure when I took them to the abattoir how I was going to feel, but I heard the stun gun and there wasn't so much as a squeal. Holistic is a word normally used by vegetarians but you can be a holistic carnivore: I know that I've raised two of the happiest pigs that ever lived in Dorset and I'm responsible for eating every last bit of them.

By the way, any vegetarian who had a hankering for some meat should cast around for a spare placenta: it is a really interesting one because nothing has died. Quite the opposite. I've recently been involved in the production of one myself. It's still in the freezer; its fate is undecided."

A new series of `TV Dinners' starts on Channel 4 on 16 June, featuring Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His series, `Escape to River Cottage', returns next year.

Interviews by Richenda Wilson

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you familiar with the sayin...

    Recruitment Genius: Hospitality Assistant

    £6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker

    £6 - £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most