BBQ magazine is inclusive. All food is welcome – this issue is replete with vegetarian and vegan fare – all people welcome.
Of course, any publication devoted to barbecue may contain meat and let’s face it different meats and ways of cooking them are invariably going to be the heroes of our pages.
What that doesn’t mean is a blind faith in or acceptance of the way it is produced, for we are all about provenance, sustainability, ethical farming and playing our own part in championing the best animal husbandry and welfare from the best farms to the best forks, with live-fire cooking a key, nutritional, enjoyable, educational, inspirational part of that journey.
There are very important discussions that need to revolve around food and evolve the debate, but please let’s do it in a considered way and not this toxic, no compromise, look at me, with me or against me, culture.
Quorn, which bills itself as ‘the leading meat-free brand’, took out a full-page advertisement in The Sunday Times during COP26. It was an open letter to the world leaders and delegates at the Glasgow climate change conference.
Essentially Quorn would love us to believe that ‘the greatest humanitarian crisis in history’ is the fault of cows. Quorn was outraged that meat was ‘off the table’ in Glasgow. I’ve no idea if it was or wasn’t, but I know a lot of people who would love a debate with Quorn. By all means promote your brand – it’s called advertising – but cut out the hyperbolic nonsense.
Some of the greatest purveyors of meat in this country would argue that we eat too much of it. Listen to butcher Simon Taylor, captain of Team GB at the 2022 World Butchers Challenge:
“Some people believe all meat farming is detrimental to the planet, when, in fact, farming carried out in the correct way is one of the best resources to fix the damage.”
“Manage and rear animals naturally on grassland – and there is plenty of it – and you increase the soil’s organic matter and store carbon, while also supporting a wide range of wildlife and encouraging biodiversity. It is about natural farming methods, pasture-fed animals and less processed food.”
The Quorn advertisement preaches about its mission “to help the planet one bite at a time”. I won’t be taking one bite any time. I don’t like the taste and I don’t like the zealotry. Why call yourself meat free? Why not sell your food on its own merits rather than demonising the ‘opposition’?
Meat is not the enemy; it’s a nutritional, sustainable food that happens not to be vegetarian or vegan. The approach of the likes of Quorn, Beyond Meat (what does that even mean?) and those dairy haters Oatly doesn’t advance meaningful debate or bring anything to the climate change table. Let’s talk sensibly from the fire pit, not venomously from the cesspit, or fanatically from the pulpit.
I did actually find The Sunday Times advertisement quite useful. I used the page in my chimney starter to get the BBQ lit and meat was very much on the table, along with a vegan side of whole husk-on corn with black tahini and Aleppo chilli vegan butter with quinoa. You see, we can get on.
Yours in live-fire cooking
Rupert Bates was Highly Commended in the Food Writing category of the Guild of Food Writers Awards 2021 for his work in BBQ magazine.
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