Meaty thoughts

As I marinated my lamb this morning I wondered, indeed why do I still eat meat at all?

I’ve struggled a lot, over many years to justify it to myself and vegetarian friends. Today it became clear why for now, its the right thing, for me.

Quite regularly our family go vegan. I love the flavour, the brightness and the complexity needed to create a great vegetarian dish. Its certainly not lazy cooking. I can’t even say I do it for my body as the goodness of it has quite the same effect on my general well being as good quality steak which can do wonders. More its about the variety and possibilities in food.

I take pleasure in the consumption of meat & animal products and I am thankful for their ability to nourish my body and soul. However, I also know that every choice we make is a responsibility to those affected by it. There is a consequence. By eating meat an animal has to die. But we all die. It is not the death of the animal I take offense to, its the life they are forced to endure.

Animals in the wild hunt and eat each other in a perfect circle of nourishment. There is no judgement there. Until the moment of their capture and resulting kill the victim is a free creature. Happy to run, play, love. Humans have strayed so far from the hunter/gatherer path we have (mostly) lost the ability. From our fear of famine or even going without a single meal we hoard animals in numbers so great they are housed in cages and killed on mass.

This is the real price to eating meat, this cruelty inflicted upon another living creature.

I grew up on a sheep station and it gave me early insight into where my food comes from and how it looks, both alive and dead. There was a mutual respect between farmer and beast. Long before the free-range fad I needed to know where my food came from. How had the creature lived.

I’ve argued until black in the face that the cost of eating a cruelly reared, caged animal is far greater than the ticket on the plastic packet it comes in.  I don’t know when it happened that humans saw themselves as worth more than their four legged and winged counterparts but it’s an unsustainable way of thinking. Our planet can no longer take the over breeding of animals for food thanks to this obsession we have with stockpiling more than we can actually consume.

But the issue that arises is this. Aside from farming ones own table how do we do eat well and ethically in an urban setting? I believe the answer lies in re-honing the lost art of foraging for our food. Not content to find our meal in one brightly light supermarket but to search out the suppliers who have hand reared their product – animal or vegetable and built their business around equality between themselves and their product. It takes time and effort but so does anything good. Anything Real.

As consumers we can take care, eat less meat and find the pleasure in other forms of dining so that when we purchase for our family it’s high quality, free farmed, happy and allowed freedom from fear.

I believe you can advocate for animals and not be vegetarian, Ricky Gervais was a huge animal rights activist before becoming vego himself only recently. Perhaps that is part of my journey and one day I’ll eschew meat. For now I allow myself to enjoy it and I try everyday to be a better consumer of its gifts.

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My latest creation, a Moroccan Marinated Lamb Salad uses one small lamb blackstrap from my friends at Hunters Hill Free Range Butcher and easily fed two hungry adults. The secret is the balance of flavours to create a delicious, nourishing meal that satisfies every taste craving. The recipe is on my Instagram: ladymossloves

I’ve discovered www.freerangebutcher.com.au who deliver next day to Sydney and Central Coast. Check their website, they also visit plenty of farmers markets where you can sample their product. There’s a Bulk Buys and Best Sellers pack that is a what’s for dinner no brainer. I’d freeze it and use as needed. We eat meat no more than three times a week so it’s an economic way to buy ethically and save money.

For the vegetarians, this dish is full bodied enough to enjoy sans lamb, I’d replace with roasted and spiced sweet potato and throw a few chickpeas in for good measure.

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