Saturday, 24 August 2013

Lab Burgers, Vegetarian Girlfriends and Peppa Pig (unedited version) - South Shropshire Journal 16/8/13

Regular readers may be aware that I frequently make reference to burgers in this column: 2nd August, barbecue burgers; 5th July George Osborne burgers. Earlier in the year I probably alluded to horse burgers. Call me a band-wagon hopper-onner, but I write about food, and it would seem that 2013 is the year of the burger.

I was all set to write a nice clean burgerless column this week until some maniac scientists gave us the stem cell burger, and I couldn’t really not mention it. Burger me! This burger, that grew from cow cells in a petri-dish at the cost of £215,000 could possibly be the future of meat, apparently. Meat that has not come from an animal, that has not had to munch away at millions of tons of costly food that could otherwise be used for feeding humans, that has not had to be killed in a slaughterhouse, and that has not farted loads of hot methane into our fragile atmosphere. And it’ll cost you less than 250 grand for a quarter-pounder. Bargain.

I was watching the BBC breakfast programme the other day (which I like to do when Susanna Reid is on and the kids aren’t making me switch over to Peppa Pig), and there was a vegetarian zealot proclaiming that test-tube meat is a really very sensible, viable and not remotely crackers way of feeding the carnivorous world.

I had a vegetarian zealot girlfriend many years ago, and it didn’t work out. Vegetarianism and I do not mix. I don’t want to be all Jeremy Clarkson over this, but Veggies kind of need to get over it. Don’t eat meat, it’s fine; just don’t try to make the rest of us feel bad about it, and don’t make us eat petri-meat. I have some good friends who swing that way and good luck to them. My mate Lydia (straight-up vegetarian, who enjoys the odd sausage roll) writes a lovely blog about not particularly not being a vegetarian at

The future of meat production should not come from laboratories, but from us, the people who eat and demand it. Globally I’ve got nothing, but locally maybe I have something: look for the best meat available, the stuff that is (literally) not costing the earth. Ask supermarkets and butchers about the sustainability of their produce. Buy less meat but make it go further. I’ll happily give you at least five suggestions as to how to make a pig’s head go a very long way, should you be interested.

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