Michael Williams: Readers' editor

You're hopping mad about our dish of 'roo stew
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The Independent Online

Lock the doors, put up the shutters, batten down the hatches. I've an admission to make. I'm actually rather partial to a juicy bit of kangaroo – an idea clearly offensive to many of our readers judging by the response to our news story last week reporting that Greenpeace is urging Australians to eat more 'roo meat to save the planet. The idea is that throwing Skippy, rather than a sirloin, on the barbie would reduce the nation's greenhouse gases, meaning less methane from flatulent cattle and less demand for grazing land.

Personally, I think it's a good idea. 'Roos are low in fat and high in protein. Travelling across Australia, I consumed the nation's most prolific marsupial as fillet and carbonade, as carpaccio and salami. I'd particularly recommend "National Emblem Stew" where quantities of emu are also stirred in. But I don't anticipate many of you calling in for the recipe. When my colleague Janet Street-Porter went on TV with Gordon Ramsay to talk up the virtues of another unusual meat – horse – a pile of steaming manure was dumped on the doorstep of Ramsay's restaurant. Several of you clearly view the kangaroo idea in much the same way.

"I thought you were supposed to be an environmentalists' paper," writes Jeff Jepps from Wimbledon, "but you have given huge prominence to this loony idea from Greenpeace, who not long ago were campaigning against the culling of these intelligent mammals. And to make it worse, you are clearly revelling in it by turning a serious issue into some kind of joke." The veggie lobby is on the warpath, too: "A responsible paper like yours should be pointing out that the quest for ever growing quantities of meat in our diet is not only destroying the planet but killing us off with heart attacks and a host of other diseases," writes Veronica Leigh , from Bristol. "Above all, hunger around the world could be eradicated if rich Westerners gave up eating meat."

True enough. But given that veggies are unlikely to attain world domination, the only proper test must surely be: are the animals facing extinction, and are they being dispatched humanely? Each nation makes cultural judgements on what it chooses as acceptable to eat. Why is it fine to eat horsemeat in France but not in Britain? Why do we recoil at the Vietnamese and Koreans eating dog? The UK is being plagued by a glut of grey squirrels, which the Government decrees can be legally killed. So surely Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall should be stewing them for the nation at River Cottage Contradictory? A whaler in Oslo told me not long ago: "You British are sentimental about whales because you say they are intelligent. But so are pigs, and you torture them by the millions in intensive farms for your breakfast bacon."

The proper test for any food we eat must be to interrogate the source and then decide. In this respect, our gag last week about "possum pie" and "kookaburra fricassee" may have misfired, since kookaburras are officially endangered, as are some types of possum. So in fairness to marsupials everywhere, here's another recipe sent to me by a reader this week: "Greenpeace kangaroo-killers should be served on a spit, slitted and gutted, with the head removed."

Email readerseditor@independent.co.uk

Message Board: Pills: lifesavers or a hazard to health?

Deaths from adverse reactions to prescription drugs have doubled in 10 years. Bloggers had plenty to say about doctors and drugs at www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs


There is far too much pill popping. I don't blame only doctors for this as their patients pester them for pills. I've heard of antibiotics being demanded to treat viruses on which they have no effect. I take nothing, not even an aspirin.


Some people feel their doctors have not listened to them as well as they would have liked. I am very sorry that this occurred, but painting the whole medical profession as arrogant and dismissive is an unfair generalisation.

Karen A

The human body is unique and each person will process medicines differently. No system, no clinical trials, will ensure that adverse side effects will never happen.


The majority of doctors are rubbish and venal? You are joking. Next time you're ill, need surgery or advice, try sorting yourself out and see how happy, or even alive, you are.

Chris Caton

People need to be empowered, have their health put back into their hands, be enabled to make informed choices. Too often patients feel they must do as the doctor says through fear and not through choice.


People are accustomed to taking medicine without knowing about adverse reactions. More information in medical centres is needed to make people aware of them.

Mark Jago

People just need to take responsibility and read more. Stop behaving like sheep, and educate yourself on other options.


What has changed since Voltaire: "Doctors... prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing"?