I recently had a rather odd request from a journalist. He had been a vegetarian for two decades – purely due to his love of animals – but in the past few years had begun eating meat again, only to now contemplate a return to vegetarianism.
So, as well as wanting to do research for an article, he also wanted to satisfy his own agenda, deciding whether to go back to his “murder-free” diet. He basically wanted to walk the line from birth to bacon, visiting our farms, then on to the abattoir and then to the butchery.
See also: Anna’s Happy Trotters
I have to say, at first I was pretty sceptical. I didn’t know him from Adam and for all I knew he could have been from an extreme animal rights group, particularly as he mentioned recent animal cruelty cases in a couple of UK abattoirs. But then I thought, we are proud of our welfare standards, we are proud of everything we do and we know that every stage of the process is carried out with the animal’s welfare in mind. So, throwing caution to the wind, I invited him to come to see our operation and follow the whole process.
And do you know what? Having spent the day “walking the line”, including the stunning and sticking of several pigs, rather than being put off meat for life, it had quite the opposite effect. Being fully in the know about the whole process and having picked my brain all day, he was actually pretty happy about it all and decided that meat would remain in his diet, as long as it was high welfare.
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I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – it’s all about education. There are some great initiatives out there such as Food For Life in some schools, but given that food is a pretty important part of life, surely everyone should have this basic understanding about how food gets to our plates, not least to make them more responsible about sourcing higher-welfare British produce. As a self-proclaimed nation of animal lovers, I’d say education in all schools about responsible shopping choices to support higher welfare is a no-brainer.
Anna Longthorp runs Anna’s Happy Trotters, a pork wholesale business supplying butchers, restaurants and farm shops with free-range pork from her family’s 2,100 breeding sows.