Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Deep waters...

I promised I would occasionally be a little opinionated on here, so here goes...!

Today Karna and I found time to do some fishing for the first time this year - really unusually late for us, but we have had a lot on (like creating a vegetable garden!) this spring and early summer, and besides we had put so much fish in the freezer last year that it lasted us until last week. We fish with nets which we put out in the evening and then lift out of the lake in the morning, by which time the nets usually contain a few Perch, or a Pike and, if we are lucky, the odd Perch-Pike (Zander if you are on the other side of the Atlantic!). This method of fishing carries a lot of nostalgic memories for me as we used to fish with nets in the summers of my childhood, spent in the cottage my family used to have near Gryt on the Baltic coast. Pulling the nets out of the water still brings out a child-like sense of excitement in me, as I peer as far into the depths as I can see in order to detect any gleaming, wriggling fish. (Incidentally, digging up potatoes does about the same thing for me!)

The subject of fishing brings us to the uncomfortable but salient fact that sooner or later, if you want to eat the fish, you are going to have to kill it. Obviously this translates to any other animals that you decide you might want to eat too - pigs, reindeer, grasshoppers, oysters - and while I guess this is something that everyone must surely be aware of, it certainly seems to be something that more and more people choose to turn a blind eye to. I have eaten fish and meat my whole life so far, and I would be lying if I said there had not been times when I didn't give this much thought. But lately, now that I keep animals for food and catch my own fish, this moral dilemma has certainly come into focus in a most tangible way.

And let me be straight about this: killing the animal is not an enjoyable action. Not in any way. But on the other hand, I have made the decision for myself that I feel I can put up with this undesirable hurdle and so I include meat and fish in my diet. And in the cases, such as with fish or poultry, where I feel I have the sufficient experience and skill to perform the task, I am prepared to take care of the slaughtering process when needed. In fact I am a lot happier to be involved myself when it comes to killing an animal that I am going to eat, than to buy it from the supermarket where I have very little control of any other part of the process than entering my credit card PIN-code at the checkout.

I firmly believe we all need to eat more vegetables and less meat, and I would perhaps go so far as to suggest that if we feel we have to shut our eyes and ears to the fact that eating meat involves killing animals, then we should not be eating meat at all! It seems that quite a few people I have been talking to lately considers it a lot worse to have to kill a gregarious farm animal that you have known for all its life than a fish that has been swimming in the lake, unseen until the moment you pulled it out of there. To me they are both beautiful creatures and I struggle to see the difference.

Here is the deal that I believe in: if you are going to eat meat and fish, you make sure as far as realistically possible that the animals involved have had the best possible life, that they have had a chance to graze and socialize and behave according to their instinctive preferences. And that the slaughter has been a stress-free and painless process. If there is any doubt, eat vegetables instead, they are delicious!

To be continued, I am sure...

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