Anyone for a burger?

PUBLISHED: 11:15 08 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

Presenter Richard Johnson, of the Kill It, Cook It, Eat It programme on BBC3
Picture courtesy of BBC/Karen Wright

Presenter Richard Johnson, of the Kill It, Cook It, Eat It programme on BBC3 Picture courtesy of BBC/Karen Wright

AS a vegetarian I feel particularly qualified to discuss BBC Three s Kill It, Cook It, Eat It because I ve given quite a lot of thought to meat over the years. For those of you not in possession of digital TV, the programme pretty much does what it says o

AS a vegetarian I feel particularly qualified to discuss BBC Three's Kill It, Cook It, Eat It because I've given quite a lot of thought to meat over the years.

For those of you not in possession of digital TV, the programme pretty much does what it says on the tin, in that it shows you the death and preparation of an animal, and then an invited audience gets to munch on the end product.

The idea behind it is to reconnect people with the source of their meat - to remind them that it hasn't always been neatly packaged on a supermarket shelf with cooking instructions on the back.

My attitude towards meat has changed many times over the years.

As a quietly militant teenager, when I first gave up meat, I read up on animal cruelty in a book called The Teenage Vegetarian Survival Guide.

I never joined the Vegetarian Society or did anything particularly active but always liked to think that my small act of non-meat eating was making a difference.

Over the years, my vegetarianism has become simply part of who I am rather than a political gesture of any kind.

I've never tried to convert anyone and have become more of the opinion that it's not really meat I object to, but the way animals are handled and killed.

Watching Kill It, Cook It, Eat It on Monday, I expected to feel somewhat righteous and also pleased that meat eaters are being confronted with the reality behind their burgers and steaks.

I didn't want anyone to be converted necessarily, but just to be more conscious of the whole process.

What I actually felt was disgusted. Not so much by the killing, bizarrely, but by the piles of flesh being hacked about, pan fried and then eaten.

The flesh was still warm as it was cut up because the animal had so recently been alive, and it was floppy because rigor mortis had yet to set in.

These two things were specific to the speedy process of the show which didn't allow for the usual process of the meat being hung.

But the animals were also astonishingly real and almost human and I really found myself thinking, I could never eat that.

Having seen those piles of red flesh, and worse still, seen it being torn off a carcass, I don't think I would be able to eat meat even if the animal had been gently put to sleep by lethal injection with a kindly vet stroking its head.

I guess the idea behind the invited audience at the show was to shock them with the truth about what they were putting in their mouths.

Many of them looked pretty disturbed by various points of the process, but I struggled to find many who weren't happily eating - and complementing the taste of - the final piece of meat.

And I suspect this will be pretty much symptomatic of opinions of viewers at home.

Meat eaters may be a bit disgusted by it and will certainly be more informed about how meat ends up on their table, but ultimately they will carry on much as before.

And those of us who don't eat meat will see it as a confirmation that we were right all along - the whole meat thing is just not for us.


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