Saturday Ramble: We’re all vegetarians now
I remember precisely the day I became a vegetarian. The circumstances were similar to the current horse meat fiasco.
I was at university. One evening four of us went to an Oriental restaurant for curries. Among the party was a biology student called Boris, widely known as Bugs, two girls and me. On the recommendation of the genial proprietor we all ordered the same dish.
As the aromatic food arrived at the table, I topped up the wine glasses. The omnivorous Bugs plunged in and made quick work of two mouthfuls. Then the fun started.
Bugs was coughing and spluttering and trying to retrieve something from his mouth. Presently he pulled out a small, oddly shaped bone and looked at it intently in the manner of David Attenborough.
“I’m almost sure this is a monkey’s foot bone,” he concluded. “It can’t really be anything else.”
The girls squealed with disgust. We all got up to leave, with the proprietor pleading his innocence.
It’s a well-known fact that “bush meat” — wild animals caught in the forests and on the plains of Africa and the Subcontinent — is often smuggled into this country by immigrants. It can include chimpanzees, monkeys, snakes, almost anything in fact. I’ve long suspected that much of it will go to ethnic restaurants and pass into the British food chain.
Bugs regaled us with more damning details. “Monkeys share between 96 and 98% of human DNA. Eating them is virtually like eating human flesh.” The girls retched in horror.
“But only you ate the stuff,” I reminded him. “I’m well aware of that,” he snapped. “There’s nothing I can do about it now.” From that day, Bugs was known as Boris the Cannibal, and I became a vegetarian.
The latest news of a widespread scam to pass off Romanian horse meat as more expensive beef is horrifying enough, but if you have ever eaten foreign food in a restaurant, you have probably consumed much worse than that.
It’s thought that a recent ban on horses and carts on the streets of Bucharest was the trigger for all that cheap meat coming on to the market. But it goes much wider than that.
There was a report this morning from Ireland that old and failed racehorses have been sold on in droves to abattoirs for “further processing”, no doubt heading down Findus’s way. We are being warned to expect a welter of bad news on Friday as hundreds more tests are carried out on supermarket beef products.
A week or so ago, I overheard a student extolling the merits of Tesco Beef and onion pies. At £1.24 for two plump pies with a nice lattice finish, they are a real bargain, she said. And she finished her eulogy by saying, “they’re really nice and sweet”. Stand by for them to be taken off the shelves. Horse meat is said to be “sweeter than beef”.
Adulterating food should carry a mandatory life sentence, in my opinion. Endangering people’s health, and even their lives, for profit is a heinous, heartless crime, and it should be signalled as such by politicians, police and the courts.
It’s obvious that a lot of people knew this was going on. One report suggested that it could have started 10 years ago. It beggars belief that the major players were unaware of it.
Where was the Food Standards Agency (FSA)? Clearly asleep on the job. Another ghastly mess from the public sector.
Mind you, reponsibility for this area has now passed to Brussels. I’ve not heard a squeak from them since the story erupted on their watch.
… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.
Coming up: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.