Now it's cooled down enough to sit near the computer, I find LiveJournal is working properly again. I wonder what they were meddling with last night? Anyway, time to browse the news.
I see JuliaM beat me to this one, but I laughed so much I had to comment on it anyway. It's in the Daily Mail so have a large pinch of salt handy.
I had no idea that waste meat could be turned into electricity. I wonder how it's done? Some years ago, I was involved with a project to ferment waste meat products to dispose of them. It came to nothing because the stench it would produce meant that nobody, anywhere, would stand for it. You think having a power station in your backyard is bad? Imagine having a meat-rotting plant installed there. So I wonder if they incinerate it, in which case it would take quite an energy input to burn such a wet product, or what else they might do. Or is it all an invention of a bored reporter? I've no idea.
The militant veggies are up in arms, naturally, at the idea they might be boiling their lentils using dead cow power. I don't think it breaks any vegetarian ethics myself - the cows aren't dying specifically to power the grid, the meat that's being used would otherwise have ended up in landfill and nobody would have said the last rites over it. It's past-sell-by-date meat which supermarkets would be prosecuted for selling. Unmarked mass grave or power station are the only options left to it.
See, this sort of thing is bound to happen if you a) tell people that eating meat is evil and b) insist on putting prices up to deter us slavering carnivores. The meat goes in the bin. It doesn't get pieced back together and reanimated.
There's something I delight in explaining to vegetarians when they tell me my bacon roll is tantamount to supporting the Highland Clearances or Auschwitz. If I didn't eat it, how many pigs would be alive today?
Their answer: all of them.
My answer: none.
Farmers keep pigs, cows and sheep to sell as meat. That's what they're for. It's a business, not a rescue centre. If everyone in the UK stopped eating meat tomorrow, every one of those animals would be dead by the day after. They can't be shipped abroad alive so they'd be on long trains of death on their way to the Spanish, French, and anyone else who'll have them at rock-bottom prices. The only ones alive would be prime breeding stock, and they'd be out of the country faster than the human stock is coming in.
The veggie argument usually goes that once all the animals are off the land, we can grow loads more cereal crops. The thing is, large swathes of land in this country grow nothing but grass. Cereal crops are easier than animals to grow. They don't tend to escape, and they don't line the pockets of vets. You don't need to pay a slaughterhouse to kill them, you just drive around in a combine and pick them up. Easy. Storage is much easier for cereal products, shelf life is much longer, and unless you're susceptible to potato blight or mould, you're far less likely to have to worry about disease transmission. So why do we have huge areas of grassland covered with cattle and sheep? Because nothing else grows there.
We can't eat grass. Sheep can. We can eat sheep. It's not a complex equation.
With no animals, we'd have mountains covered in grass and nothing else. You can't even build on them because they're not in pleasant or accessible places. Without energy-rich meat products, we'd need to convert every scrap of arable land to ceral production. So it's bye-bye badgers, foxes and rabbits, bye-bye to birds, bye-bye to all wildlife because their habitat will be a wheat field now. You have an animal sanctuary? Clear it, plough it, we need the crops. Even then, the low energy yield of these products means we can't possibly grow enough.
I suppose we could put wind farms on the unused land, with a hundred tons of concrete under each steel post, topped with a mechanism composed of toxic metals that has to be maintained and repaired and will eventually break and need replacement, using big trucks that do about five miles to the gallon and pump out pollutants into every cereal field they pass... sounds great, eh?
If the whole country decided never to eat animals again, the environment is screwed. No wildlife. No parks. No scenery. It's not possible to feed the current population with the amount of arable land we have here. Give it a year and we'll be eating each other. Immigrants will come here for a 'job in a restaurant' and never be heard from again.
So worrying about where out-of-date meat goes is nothing short of hysteria. There's a lot of it about these days. If it really is being used to generate electricity, good. At least it's not being wasted. At least the animal it came from didn't die in vain. There's no sense in blaming the supermarkets. They don't buy stuff to throw away, they buy it to sell. If they have to throw it away, that's a loss and they don't like that. They aren't doing it on purpose.
Animals die to feed me. I know it, I've worked with animals and watched them die. No, it's not pleasant but I am an omnivore and that's the way it is - if I'm going to live, once in a while, something else is going to die. Do I feel a twinge of guilt about a bacon sandwich? Nope. Pigs are omnivores too and they wouldn't bat an eyelid if my corpse was dumped in front of them. They'd just tuck in. If I wasn't quite dead, they wouldn't concern themselves with EU regulations or humane killing or whether I was kosher or not. Pigs are not cuddly things, they are big and powerful and capable of being very nasty indeed. Don't annoy them. Cows, likewise, are not friendly pets. If they don't like you, they'll kill you and they won't even eat you. Just stomp you flat.
Perversely, the fact that I eat meat is what keeps those animals alive. With no meat eaters there'd be no market and hence no animals. They wouldn't be set free to roam the land because then they'd eat crops. They'd all die.
Vegetarians be warned - if you ever succeed in eradicating meat from the menu, I'll eat you.
I have a few bottles of Chianti and a bag of fava beans here, just in case.