Saturday, 19 July 2008

The Veal Story

Despite being a dairy free, egg munching vegetarian - I still find great enjoyment in watching Gordon Ramsay's F Word. It's a hugely entertaining show. But the whole Janet Street Pensioner killing a baby cow story was pretty tough. Tough in that it brought back some harsh memories of being a very bored teenager. (She was rearing the calves near the part of the Yorkshire Dales that I spent my teenage years in.) But more tough seeing as the little calves were living moving creatures that just looked so healthy. I've never seen a calf with clearer more sparkly eyes.

When it came to slaughter I had to leave the room and headed to the back of the house to make a cup of Oolong tea. I left my husband (who only became a vegetarian a year ago) to watch it. He said he wanted to. As the kettle came to a boil I heard my husband shout out in dismay. Something you don't often hear from a strapping 6'3 tree surgeon. Oh dear.

I am wondering if perhaps Gordon's attempts to encourage the nation to eat carefully nurtured veal will cause more of the nation to actually turn their back on meat all together? In my mind all I can think of is the big doe eyed calves slurping on bottles of milk, which brought back memories of being a child and force feeding my plastic doll with one of those magic baby bottles. I felt so happy playing Mummy until I got cross because my doll didn't have a proper mouth opening because it wasn't a real Tiny Tears, just a cheap Redcar Market version.  Of course, not that many years later at the tender age of 21 - I had my own baby to take care of. Did I need a Tiny Tears then? Not one bit. I had real poop to scoop. Did I relish in the pleasure of popping a bottle of milk into my own babe's mouth for her to suck on? No I did not! Why not?

There is only one type of milk that is fit for human consumption and that is human milk. I was not going to get the milk intended to make cows grow that had been chemically treated, reduced to a powder and then mix it up with some water before forcing it down my own childs throat. Was I a purveyor of you are what you eat back then? Not really. I was young, naive and pretty scared. But I knew that if I was going to be responsible as a parent the best thing I could do was breast feed. You must have heard by now - cows have four stomachs. Us humans only have the one. Cows milk is designed to make a 90 pound calf turn into a 2000 pound cow in the course of two years. That could be happening to our babies.

Here's an example of social experimentation. When my sister was born back in 1974 - she was starved of oxygen at birth, this resulted in her having cerebral palsy. She has never been able to do anything for herself although she toddles about aged 33 giggling with contentment most of the time. She still lives with my parents even though my Dad's in his 70s - they are saintly beings my folks I'll tell you. And because she was so badly brain damaged - she didn't even have a proper sucking relex - so Mum had to bottle feed her. (Of couse - the fact that she had the option of cows milk was a blessing as expressing is pretty time consuming - and thanks to dairy farming makes you feel like a prize heifer.) So what happened to my sister? She became huge. She was like a great big round enormous pudding - relatives nicknamed her buddha.  Only  11 months later (my parents got on with things pretty sheepish) out I popped and luckily my birth was less traumatic so I got to feed from my Mum's breast. The milk that nature intended for me. Did I grow? Yes. I grew length ways rather than width ways. We couldn't have looked more opposite as babies if it was possible.

A lovely friend of mine Katharine who came to visit from LA the other day told me how mummy cows get super upset when their babies are taken away from them. She had heard it first hand when she visited her parents in France, they live next to a veal farm. The mothers cry out and stamp their feet - making a real heartbreaking fuss.  I couldn't believe it.   My husband confirmed this - he grew up on a dairy farm. The mothers will go to the spot where they last saw their child and just wait there for days, hoping their child would come back to them. I'm sure if we could explain to them that it's okay because Janet Street Porker is going to take them and feed them the milk of another cow whilst brushing their fur and chatting to them before stunning them with a gun and slicing their throats open, then the mothers would feel much better. Could you think of anything more horrific to happen to your child? I guess the throat cutting would be the merciful part - how on earth was that woman ever a fashion journalist?

Not only is it really not on to eat meat and drink milk for cruelty's sake. It just isn't really something we humans are designed to do. Butter and cheese are 70/80% fat and that's why they taste good but you'll get huge. And sure cows have udders but they are not supposed to be constantly stimulated and milked and milked and milked over and over and over again. No way. They are injected with bovine growth hormone to create this over production. Their udders get sore from the milking machine - they can crack and bleed. So they are given antibiotics to stem infection. Oh and all those nasty sore bits get pumped right on up the tube of the milking machine. Mmm. Creamy. Then the milk has to be treated at high temperatures to kill all these nasty germs - what else do they kill? All the goodness that was in milk in the first place.

Would you eat pig cheese if it came on the market? How about some lady cream drizzled over your strawberries? Sounds gross - but if it had been marketed to us in the way that dairy has we'd see it as something that is good for us. But it's not! Far from it. Try replacing cows milk with rice milk and soya milk. Rice milk tastes absolutely delicious on cereal. You'll be amazed. Your stomach and thighs will love you for it too.

I do enjoy sitting down to the F Word though. "Why?" I hear you ask after such a rant. Well, Gordon is thoroughly amusing. But before I decided to put a preservation order on my body, I would try anything, from garden snails to steak tartare. And just because I have chosen not to delight in the flavours of such morsels as scallops and fillet steak anymore it doesn't mean I have forgotten how good it all tastes yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment - I love to hear from everyone and follow other people's blogs back!