Monday 16 April 2012

All creatures great and small

At the weekend two horses died as a result of taking part in the Grand National - a race generally seen as very hard on both riders and horses. Once again people have raised issues of safety and animal welfare in a sport where horses have a 'shelf life' just as the dogs in greyhound racing do. For me this raises the ugly question of whether we have the right as humans to use animals for our entertainment.

Of course as someone who shares their house with a cat we have plenty of entertainment of the feline kind. Only yesterday Hubbie was looking out of the kitchen window and said "who is that at the end of the garden ?" He meant the tabby cat who is a newcomer to our garden, but I thought he meant the fox that was tiptoeing his way towards the cat. We scrambled to get outdoor shoes on to chase off the fox and I quipped that if I had a red coat and a horse we wouldn't have this problem. In the early days of our courtship me and Hubbie took part in a debate about fox hunting where we took opposite points of view. It's not the first time I've had that discussion and I still cannot fathom how anyone can see fox hunting as a fun day out rather than a brutal 'sport.' I don't see the appeal of chasing a fox using a pack of dogs and surely being drunk in charge of a horse is just irresponsible ?

I have the same problem with zoos, so not taking my son to see the animals is something I will have to explain to him when he is older. In the same way I'm sure he will want to know why Mummy doesn't eat meat. I stopped eating meat in my teens mostly as I read an interview with Madonna where she said that vegetarians are thinner and paler (yes at the age of 13 I cared what she said !) but also as I was horrified by how animals were kept and cared for in order to be eaten. Battery farming especially made me very distressed so seeing the free range hens that live a few doors away makes my heart sing every morning.

About 15 years later I went through an experimental phase with meat. I had been struggling with IBS for a few years and took advice to get some tests to see if it was the food I was eating. The testing was pretty dubious and I was told I was 'intolerant' to wheat, caffeine, peppers, onions, cabbage, red wine, etc. The usual rubbish that you get when you go for a non medical or 'natural' explanation is to cut out wheat, dairy and sugar, ie. all the nice foods. As a veggie I pretty much lived on pasta and potatoes so to be told that my staple foods were off the menu came as something of a shock and left me with few options (or so I thought). I started to eat some chicken then slowly reintroduced other foods that I hadn't eaten for over a decade. To be honest I found meat really uninteresting and dull. It didn't inspire creativity and frankly I'd have preferred to just be able to eat toast. A few years ago I decided again that I prefer not to eat meat and as it is so much more normal now than it was when I first became veggie and the choices are better.

I still vacillate on the decision about whether or not to eat fish and it is one that vexes me as I am always  on the brink of giving it up. I do really enjoy fish though and despite my high minded ideals there has to be space for enjoyment in life doesn't there ?  Speaking of which I did try being a vegan at university (didn't we all ?) and was exhausted, spotty and pale as well as very hungry all the time. I mean who can live without a piece of cake and a cup of tea (no soy or rice milk just doesn't cut it I'm afraid). I admire those who can eat well on a limited diet, but frankly my body was built on chocolate, chips and cheese. Oh, and the occasional piece of buttery toast.


  1. Correction: a cat graciously permits you to share his house with him.

    1. you are - of course - correct. At least I managed to steer clear of the 'pet owner' faux pas.