Tesco's horseburgers should have prompted us to reconsider the meat industry. Instead, we laughed

It's much harder to choose sausages when you've heard exactly how the pig died

Related Topics

For my friend Alex James, the journey from full-time rock god to part-time farmer has been an interesting and educative one, and now he is the nearest thing in my social circle to Old MacDonald. And on his farm he has some pigs. Last year, he walked me down to their enclosure (blimey, what a mess they'd made of it!), and we fed them bags of apples. Even to the untutored eye, I could see they were handsome specimens as they busied themselves with the job in hand.

 As a Jewish person, and someone who doesn't eat red meat, I didn't naturally see them as the pork chops of the future. Fast forward to just before last Christmas, and Alex tells me excitedly that they are killing a pig the next day, and would I like a delicious leg of pork (he tends to ignore my dietary requirements). I later ask him how the slaughter went. He tells me that it was the most horrific, gruesome, upsetting thing he has ever witnessed, and that he couldn't eat for 24 hours. It has not, however, put him off eating meat.

In the light of the revelations about the ingredients of Tesco's Everyday Value frozen beefburgers (£1 for eight), I would have thought that many people will be re-assessing their relationship to meat-eating this week. If nothing else, the Tesco story forces us to think about what goes into processed items like burgers (chicken nugget, anyone?) and associated health issues. I gave up eating red meat last year for Lent (I know, I'm a religious cross-dresser) for a variety of purposes - simply to see whether I could do it, but also for the health benefits, and on environmental grounds (meat production is a significant cause of environmental degradation). I continued beyond Lent, and I have kept with the programme since. I can't see any improvements in my general welfare, but it's when I hear Alex's story that I feel glad I have chosen this path.

My objection to meat-eating is not strictly an ethical one - i.e. I have no intrinsic problem with animals being killed for food - but I now feel we should be much more engaged with the exact process of how a piece of meat arrives on your plate. I'm not saying that you have to go out and kill a pig every time you want some streaky bacon, but maybe you should be prepared to do that, or at least make yourself aware of the precise method by which a pig becomes a rasher. I'm not trying to be a propagandist for non-meat-eating, but when Alex was giving me the full, Tarantino description of his pig's final moments, the blood, the guts, the screaming (the pig's, not his), it did make me think that anyone listening to this, never mind witnessing it, would make a more informed choice when next presented with a menu.

I think it is a shame that the discovery of horsemeat in the Tesco burgers has been subverted by a thousand Internet gags into a rather jokey story. It should, on the contrary, have given us serious pause for thought about the wider issues concerning meat and its production.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi where Mohammad Asghar is being held  

Mohammed Ashgar: A Briton on death row in Pakistan who the Government must act to save

David Morrisey
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs  

When most porn is packaged for men, is it any wonder women get their sexual kicks from erotica?

Justine Elyot
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style