When you are planning your weekly meals do you have possum or quail for dinner? Those of you who are my “vintage” – a good age, like a good wine, will remember the TV Show The Beverley Hillbillies. Grandma Clampett’s favourite recipe was possum stew. At the time I could not imagine enjoying possum stew or pie for dinner! But times change and possums are on the menu, just like kangaroo and wallaby. Can you be a native animal lover and still eat wildlife? Can you enjoy a roast chicken dinner and yet still raise hens for eggs? What are the ethics of eating animals? Christine Korsgaard, the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University argues that humans do not have a right to eat animals. She also concludes that this is a point “many decent people would reject”. I thought writing about possum or quail for dinner would be straightforward, but this is not so! Eating native animals such as possum, wallaby or kangaroo is definitely off the menu for many people. Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland, says NO to wildlife products. Anyone who promotes the killing of wildlife for food or skins for sustainable purposes is, according to Australia Zoo, telling a lie.
Recently I watched the Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans from Tasmania, with the help of a neighbour, kill (with a shotgun) and then BBQ a wallaby. This came about due to the proliferation of wallaby’s on Matthew & Sadie’s property and the destruction of their grassed paddocks. It was not something Matthew took pleasure from but to survive on his land, with their conscious choice of eating meat, such action had to be taken. Then there are others who make a conscious choice not to eat meat or seafood or dairy. If all we ate was vegetables would we have enough protein to help our body repair itself? Protein helps our immune system and gives us energy. If we don’t consume meat than alternatives such as nuts, beans, legumes, eggs, yoghurt should be included in our daily diet. If we all became vegetarians would the obesity problem in Australia be solved? There are studies that have shown that plants have feelings. Such evidence begins to make the topic about what we should eat, even more complex!
This then leads me to raise the problem of feral cats in Australia. Every year they kill more native animals than humans do! Yes, feral cats kill more than 20 Billion Australian wildlife species every year? What should we be doing about the feral cats?
At our place, like many others across the world, we eat meat. We love our meat, our hens eggs and yes, we eat beef, pork, lamb, chicken and quail. When I was born my great-grand parents, my grand-father and uncle raised chickens and ducks for eggs and food. There were no supermarkets in those days. Just a local shop with the basics, like sugar and flour. My great-grandparents had a cow. That is where their milk, cream and butter would be sourced. Human survival has a way of guiding and changing our eating habits! In the meantime, we can have the ethical debates and make personal choices about what we eat. Yet, we all must eat to live or we will die. It is as simple as that!