At least wednesday’s debate on conservation and re-wilding at the Linnean Society, one of the questioners asked whether meat eating and conservation could be reconciled. Afterwards the same person pressed home their point – how could conservationists justify meat eating? Their argument was that as meat eating was simply unethical, it corrupted the ethicality of conservationists to support livestock production. My friend Sophie and I (mainly Sophie) tried to explain how semi-natural habitats depended on grazing, and that extensive agricultural systems did not cause the sort of suffering that industrial scale activities can cause. To no avail.
Yesterday for lunch we had a rolled and boned shoulder of Sika venison – and it was absolutely delicious. It was wild meat, free from agrochemicals, hormones and pesticides – it was incredibly lean and very healthy. It was local, produced in Purbeck where Sika deer were introduced over a hundred years ago and now have to be managed (in the absence of their predators) to reduce their impact on farmland and semi-natural habitats. Our buying it contributed to the local economy and local jobs.
It was expensive and we won’t eating it every week, but it’s probably the most ethical meat that can be eaten (apart from this).
Do we have be vegan or vegetarian in order to be conservationists?