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S7 E8 –Should we only eat ugly animals?

A recent study showed meat-eating participants were less likely to eat a dish containing meat after being shown a picture of the same animal as a baby.
Where do we draw the line between animals we eat and animals we keep as pets? And do we have the right to pick and choose?

Best soundbite: “All animals are beautiful, but I’m not a fan of chickens. Especially the ones with the little jibbley bits” – “you mean turkeys?” “yeah turkeys” – Barry Taylor

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  1. amyatkins

    This was a difficult podcast to listen to. I realise you three played a bit of devils advocate to spur conversation but it was still hard.

    I live by a vegetarian lifestyle because I do not agree with the rearing and slaughter of animals for our consumption during a time when humans can (with adequate access) fuel their bodies with all nutrients they need without consuming any form of meat or by-product of a dead animal e.g gelatine. I am also vegetarian for environmental reasons meaning I do not consume meats and try not to consume crops or products that cause the planet, animals, or people unnecessary harm.

    So I guess my opinion to the topic of the podcast is we shouldn’t eat any animals, as long as where we live has access to non-meat foods that can provide as much nutrients! Because killing unnecessarily is wrong to me. Also, to reply to Barry’s comment that culling is necessary… the over population of certain animals has come about from the intervention of humans. The natural food chain has been destroyed by people, extensive farming, infrastructure, and cities disrupting the natural landscapes and therefore the balance of nature. So, sadly, culling is now useful in some areas but by no means ‘necessary’ and able to be used as an excuse to eat meat. Humanity has a responsibility to attempt to restore balance in my opinion. So culling is no longer useful.

  2. ryandalton170

    I don’t really have anything to add to the conversation on the topic of whether we should only eat ugly animals, as I am able to separate the meats quality & flavour from whether the animal is cute or not. The cutest animal i have ever eaten is lamb, one of my favourite foods.

    On the tangent at the end of the episode; sorry to disappoint you Ben, but pregnant women cannot actually pee in a policeman’s helmet as it’s illegal to publicly urinate – although the law commission have said that police officers can make exceptions at their own discretion for pregnant women. The queen owns all the mute swans in the uk (the white recogniseable breed with the orange beaks and bright white feathers) so if some other breed is found, you can kill & eat that. The Fellows of St John’s College Cambridge can hunt them but have chosen not to for 150 years. The Queen only lays official claim to the Swans around london & along the thames and its offshoots, with these being rounded up, counted, and checked for injuries once a year.

    This sent me on a tangent of my own, where i learn that:

    knock-door-run is illegal under a law from 1839

    you cannot legally enter any public conveyance (so bus/train/taxi/etc) if you have a notifiable disease (flu, rabies, Covid-19 etc) without telling the driver first

    there’s a law that states that you should only honk your horn in the uk to warn other drivers of danger, not to show anger

  3. Andraja

    Really an interesting but at the same time confusing topic!
    Because even though I agree with Barry – every animal is beautiful – I know many people who would not call pigs, cows, … “beautiful”, so the question “Should we only eat ugly animals?” describes the status quo and makes the question redundant.

    In my opinion, the various studies you have mentioned show again that many people simply lack the awareness of the origin of their food.
    Only recently, for example, I stumbled across an article in the “Spiegel” that says that cattle in Germany live on average only about 4 years before they are slaughtered (and replaced by more productive animals in the dairy industry). If one has grown up with the matter, this fact is sad but not particularly surprising in view of mass animal husbandry. Therefore I was more surprised by the comments on this article. All of a sudden, readers who are indignant and disgusted by the pictures are asking how this can only be possible … (while reading the comments, I ask myself the question: “What do people think their supermarket minced meat for 1.50 € otherwise comes about?)

    But I digress, therefore back to your questions …
    I take the right to choose which animals/ which meat I eat in the sense of origin (butcher vs. supermarket, regional vs. global). Just concerning the point “Global” – the trade agreement between EU and USA was updated some months ago, so that Europeans should eat more beef imported from the US … WHY?! It is not like that the European countries do not have cattle themselves.
    But apart from that I am not very selective about the type of meat – as long as it is culturally acceptable. The only exception is dog … Dogs belong to family and I do not eat family members 🙂

    With regard to the best-looking animal I have ever eaten it is such an interpretation thing … cows are beautiful … but deer and horses also … oh, I don’t know.
    The most interesting animal was definitely beaver – very tender and tasty meat.
    The animal that was hardest to eat was one of our cows, which I raised by hand and which in the end behaved more like a dog than like a cow. That was really difficult but knowing that she had 14 happy years helped a lot.

    A question that has been on my mind since I saw the Exotic Meat Party (I think it was the third part) a few years ago: Where the hell did Ben get the squirrel (as a guinea pig replacement)?! I think it would be easier to get a guinea pig here in Germany – unless you go to the park and catch a squirrel ^^

  4. Casolo

    I am a mother of 2. A lot of the animals we don’t eat are also a function of their usefulness. Dogs were useful for protection as well as their cuteness. Cats trap rodents, horses are useful as beasts of burden and until recently transportation. The cuteness of animals doesn’t really impact me but intelligence does. I won’t eat dolphins, monkeys, etc. Pigs are kind of the exception, the are smart. I have eaten guinea pigs, rabbits, and other “cure’ animals, it doesn’t bother me. Even deer after “Bambi”..

    • Casolo

      One other thing that Imwanted to add is a lot of the animals we don’t eat also cause health issues. We don’t eat rats, the aren’t cute but they do spread disease. Monkeys and apes being so close to us genetically can also spread disease to us.

  5. solis_occasus

    Two things regarding Ben’s remark about how it would be unsustainable if everyone went vegan overnight. (Full disclosure, I’m a vegan. Not overnight, years of vegetarianism first.)
    1. Arguably, our current level of meat consumption is not sustainable.
    2. That’s a strawman argument that doesn’t help the debate, because we won’t all go vegan overnight, it’s a process. As meat consumption goes down, so does animal agriculture, and a gradual shift can happen towards sustainable plant-based agriculture. (Reducing our carbon footprint along the way!)
    (I know you didn’t mean anything by it, but vegans get lots of non-arguments thrown at us, and this is one of the classics. “This completely implausible situation doesn’t support your ideology – ha!” – I’ve lost count of how many desert islands populated by edible animals and completely devoid of edible plants I have been stranded on.)

    Re: cute animals, Peta has a line of merch with fish rebranded as sea kittens because of the cuteness factor! (Fish may be beautiful, but they aren’t usually cute.)

    Re: eating your own pets after they die, I would assume that the meat of most animals that die of old age would be quite tough….

    (I listen on a podcast app on my phone, so I’m glad you don’t do lots of visually engaging stuff. You could turn the volume up a bit, though. You’re a fair bit quieter than the rest of my podcasts. Love feasting my ears on your discussions and I don’t mind the loss of gimmicks. Maybe add a bit that harkens back to earlier podcasts as a lead in to appease all? And please add previous seasons to podcast apps! x )

  6. alm477

    Peacock was status food in the middle ages. I’m not sure if they were still eating them by the Victorian times though. Swans were middle ages (and up into the Renaissance) status food too, which if I remember correctly is why they belong to the royal family in Britain. Only royals were legally allowed to have them served at the table. The law stuck, even though swan went out of fashion.

    Also I’m going to push back against that caveman-meat nonsense…foods/flavors can definitely be gendered, but since gender performance varies between cultures and changes over time a lot of that manly=eats meat is not as old as most people think. Meat=WEALTH and meat=STATUS, now there’s a common theme in the west. You also have to be careful with gender difference research, because not all observable differences in men and women are innate, many are the result of environment (for example, mothers and people in general use more emotion words with and encourage more emotional thinking when talking to babies they think are female than babies they think are male, thus is it really that surprising that women tend to have higher scores than men on emotional intelligence?).

    I don’t think I could eat my dogs after they died unless it was a truly desperate situation–they are too much my family. However, some peoples’ funerary traditions do involve eating their relatives after they pass (Endocannibalism) to respect those family members.

    The best “cute” animal I ever consumed was rabbit–I did feel a bit bad about it at the time, but remember it being really tasty. I would definitely eat it again, even though I’m rather fond of rabbits.

    Where does eating insects filter into this? Insects are common foods all over the world, but not so much UK or US. Most of us cringe at the thought of eating bugs, BECAUSE they are considered ugly by our cultural context (you guys made some interesting videos on this topic semi-recently).

    How does consuming domesticated animals (including goats and pidgins) VS wild animals (iguanas, deer) factor into this?

  7. Anita

    That turkey chicken part cracked me up right at the beginning 😀 I feel that I am more okay with eating animals that are further from us humans in terms of evolutionary classification. I used to be a pescetarian (I didn’t eat meat but I wouldn’t consider my past diet healthy) for ten years, I could watch others kill fish (I never had to kill them myself), I had no problem preparing it. Then, I started to have health issues and embarked on an elimination diet so I was left with fish as the only protein source. It was not sustainable (I didn’t want to get mercury poisoning, either), so I started eating other types of meat (pastured, free-range – for health reasons). It was – and still is – a bit hard sometimes, my feeling about my eating meat is the following: if I don’t have the balls(?!) to kill that lovely cow (the mom of one of the cutest baby animals in the world, I believe), or cute and soft sheep, or a pig that is arguably as intelligent as the dogs I work with on a daily basis, I should not eat them.

    Throughout the years, I’ve grown a bit more comfortable with eating chicken, ugly chicken called turkey, too 😀 I still have occasional bad feelings about eating beef or lamb when I start thinking of it. Thankfully, I do not think too much – in general – while eating, though… But I’m planning to go back to a healthier, more (but surely not entirely) plant-based diet as soon as my health allows me to. For now, I accept my current (undoubtedly very tasty) diet by picking meat products from properly raised animals and eating just a small amount of meat (with a 4:1 veggie:meat ratio whenever I include meat).

    That said, I could never eat horse or dog meat unless I was stuck in a desert starving to death in the company of the dead bodies of these animals.

  8. Annie1962

    I wish there was an edit function – made a boo boo on my post.

  9. Annie1962

    Wow no comments? I watched this Friday night on my phone and I’m loathe to comment using my phone and then forgot to comment here on my PC

    I’ve been thinking about this eating pretty animals as you put it – and basically I agree that because we see meat on a tray or polystyrene wrapped in cling wrap, we tend to dis-identify the animal and just see a lump of meat which seemingly magically appeared on the supermarket shelves
    If there’s a picture of the animal on the packet, it really wouldn’t make any difference either as it’d just be a generic drawing of a cow, or sheep. We buy milk which usually has a picture of a cow with the farm in the background, but we don’t associate that this milk, cheese etc.. came from that type of animal. It’s just a picture. As for offal – there’s no hiding what it is. A heart looks like a heart and kidneys look like kidneys and a tongue DEFINITELY looks like a tongue. Here in Australia a lot of offal sells well in stores that are frequented by those who are used to eating them in their country of origin. A store near me sells a lot of offal from pig’s heads, trotters and tongues to thenormal fare of meat that we commonly buy. A whole tongue here would cost about $12 Aus . It’s increased in price as a lot of offal has – maybe a sign of the times but tongue is still expensive in my eyes. It’s delicious. Even pig’s tongue lol

    Now here’s where I say that I don’t think I could kill an animal for its meat. I’m an omnivore by purchase – not killing the animal myself but buying it off a cold supermarket shelf, with someone else having reared, killed and prepared the animal which gave its life for others’ sustenance. Now if one put the picture of a slaughtered animal i.e say the animal with its neck cut and blood pouring out.. I think I’d still buy it but avoid looking at anything but the price required to pay for it.

    IQ (because you didn’t google it Mike, definitely means ‘Intelligence quotient )

    Now down here in Australia, due to farming we have a overpopulation of kangaroos. Shooters are hired to cull them via helicopter – kangaroo is good eating (marinate in woosta and garlic and cook rare to medium)Currently kangaroo

    “Eating cock” – Ben Ebbrell hahaha yes Mike I saw the cheeky glance over to Baz. “pussy” – yes I noticed too
    “Rats with Wings”- in Australia our ‘rats’ are seagulls which I’m sure wouldn’t be good eating either.
    Would I eat my pets upon their passing? No.. I lost a cat a few years ago and it’s buried in our front yard intact and uneaten.. feeding a beautiful plant we put over its body.

    Here is a thought – we eat Cows because they produce meat as well as milk
    We eat chickens for their meat AND eggs
    We eat Pork for their meat and also because they produce multiple offspring that we eat too so bulk meat
    Birds produce eggs

    I have to say it – Japan eats any type of animal and say “itadakimasu” before consumption as respect for the animal giving up its life BUT there seems to be no objection to hunting an animal even though it may become extinct – whale being the animal I am mainly referring to. Ironic.

    Ben – the appearance of a fish pre-preparation would have no bearing whatsoever on whether I buy it to eat or not. I know that plaice isn’t a pretty fish but darn good eating. It’s supposed ugliness has no bearing on me eating it. Well people think pigs are ugly – yet pork is the most consumed flesh of the world.

    FYI Benneth, a dolphin is a mammal. It produced live young and feeds its them via mammary glands and ‘dogging’ hahahah I wasn’t born yesterday 😉

    I need to say this. I’ve noticed that your views on these podcasts have reduced a fair bit. My two cent’s worth and ignore if you so wish- the format’s changed. Your old chats were more light hearted and involved some sort of fun activity. You also looked into the camera more to acknowledge those of us watching making us feel part of the conversation.
    As a former dj at a rollerskating rink which involved many children’s birthday parties.. I had to make it fun. A big part of the experience for them was the interaction between me. the dj/entertainer and them.. i.e their feeling of inclusion. You may say hi to us – no look into the camera and then you seem to talk amongst yourselves
    That’s missing nowadays and I wonder if it’s not the reason for the decline in comments down here. Food for thought. Mike said that you will reply to comments but that doesn’t happen too much nowadays – kinda like the response to youtube comments. They’re fewer too nowadays. It’s not a problem for me, don’t get me wrong, it’s an observation. I know you do a lot of travel now which is great but some things have fallen by the wayside – for example – brownie points which are fun to see but haven’t been part of a vid for months now.
    Don’t lose what makes SORTed unique.

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