Meat to lime?’

Catherine Fellows talks to

Peter Cox. the number 1 one enemy of the meat


Meat The Facts: you may have seen

the Meat and Livestock

i Commission's latest attempt to

reassure a wavering public. The pamphlet. released last month. is

resplendent with images of healthy

bodies and sanitised platefuls: a steak looking for all the world like a nut cutlet. a soft-focus stirfry heavy on spring onions and red pepper slithers. a family ofpigs basking in the golden light ofan ad man’s lens filter. . . ‘Animalwelfare in Britain is the best in the European Community.‘ the emphatic typography assures us.

That is not saying much retorts author Peter Cox. The New Why You Don't Need Meat. published on 7 January. is a still-more detailed and rigorous follow up to the book which made this man enemy number one to the meat industry. Representatives of that industry have shown a marked reluctance to meet Cox's facts: all but one ofthe many invitations they have received from chat-show hosts in recent weeks to appear with the vegetarian


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evangelist have been turned down.

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Cox is proud to report that they have '

even admitted that they have no one

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meat more acceptable. Much of the

j new booki. taken up witha detailed analysis ofthe BSE scandal. and with . seemingly well founded evidence

that giving up meat can help combat arthritis. high blood pressure.

' cancer. diabetes. gallstones. heart

disease and osteoporosis. The reason that most doctors are not taking up the findings of the research

Cox quotes. is. he claims. that they simply do not read the medical journals. A holistic approach is alien

to them. and they are far more likely

' to succumb to the PR of the drug


to equal his expertise on the subject.

and have protested that asking them to face him is like asking them to put their heads in a lion‘s mtiuth.

And no vegetarian would surely want to be accused ofsuch cruelty? Cox‘s book is challenging because it tackles the morality ofthe meat issue head on. Part ofthe motivation for writing a second book was the author‘s concern that. with his attacks on farming and production processes. both in terms ofcruelty and the use of hormones and such like practices deleterious to human health. he actually succeeded in making the meat industry smarten up and. in effect. helped to make

companies when changing their prescribing habits. than to consider diet.

Peter Cox intends to carry on writing ‘until the last

slaughterhouse on this island is closed.’

But Cox is concerned to do more than appeal to selfinterest. He gives plenty ofharrowing descriptions of everyday slaughterhouse scenes the kosher animals. for example. which are tied tip. turned upside down. and then twitch for up to ten minutes as the blood drains from their slit throats. More significant though is an interview with a young farmer who was brave enough to invite Cox to assess the welfare of his animals: even ifthe lives and eventual exterminations ofthese creatures could be proved to be free ofsuffering. and Cox is sure they could not. he argues that meat is still murder. We do not exonerate those who commit what we deem to be the worst crime in the book. because they were very kind to their victims


before finishing them off. do we'.’

Basically. it boils down to whether. faced with a hen and a pile of vegetables. you would be prepared to wring her neck in order to cook a wonderful coq au vin. or if you would content yourselfwith vegetable goulash. Presumably. ifyou won't do the deed yourself it is hypocritical to expect someone else to.

'I'hough (‘ox is himself a vegan. he sees a significant difference between using animals and killing them: he won't drink milk now because the dairy side of agribusiness supports less profitable meat production but. at some golden time in the future. he would have no moral objection to finishing off milk that was surplus to his pet calf's requirements.

()ne of the arguments for vegetarianism increasingly given. even by those unmoved by the plight of livestock. is the balance ofthe world‘s economy and environment. (’ox is planning to tackle these immense areas next time around he intends to carry on writing ‘until the last slaughterhouse on this island is closed.’ But he sees the psychological link between vegetarianism and global awareness as highly significant: ‘at last. in this decade. we are thinking about ethics we are really beginning to consider the implications of what we do.’

Some of us. it must be said. Meat the Facts is still prepared to boast that ‘the growth of fast food outlets such as McDonalds and Burger King shows that meat continues to be popular among young people. with burgers being their favourite choice of food.‘

'l'he New Why You [)(m 't .\'eer1.lleut is published by Bloonzshury £10. 9‘).

Avenerable history

Edinburgh is lucky enough to have two

f Indian vegetarian restaurants worth

seeking out and even coming through from Glasgow for. The first hardly needs introduction: Kalpna has iust had its reputation for creative cooking of the highest quality reaffirmed by Vegetarian Living magazine, which has

3 nominated it runner-up in its best i restaurant In Britain competition. The l second, Suruchi, is a beautiful new

place sparkling with mirrored embroidery and the fresh blue and

white of its hand-printed Indian table

linen. Dreamchild of Raiasthani Herman Rodrigues, Suruchi aims to

. introduce diners to some of the * subcontinent's huge variety of regional

dishes most of which are passed over

in this country in favour of the rich,

aromatic cuisine of the Punjab. In line

with his desire to be representative,

Rodrigues has reflected the proportion of vegetarians in India in drawing up ;_

74 The List 29 lanai; Jii ragga—953— -

his menu, 80 per cent of which is meat-free.

Vegetarianism has a long and venerable history in India. Whilst the Buddha revolted against the excesses of courtly eating in the north -where delicacies included platefuls of peacock tongues -the Jain sect in the south and west were revering all forms of life to such an extent that they wore gauze masks to avoid inhaling invisible creatures. To this day strict Jains will only eat the leaves and fruits of plants, not the growing roots. Vegetarianism has an elevated place in the Hindu tradition also: whereas the warring and ruling castes ate rich, meat-based food, the Brahmins saw a simple diet of rice and vegetables as befitting their priestly purpose.

It is the sheer length of time that Indians have been preparing vegetarian food that makes theirs probably the most satisfying meat-free cuisine in the world. Whereas European vegetarians have to scratch around retrieving what they can from their culinary heritage, Indians have subtle and detailed knowledge handed down from generation to generation. There are optimum methods for cooking different ingredients some pulses for example give a good texture

and flavour only when left in a clay pot on a low fire all day; certain vegetables are complemented by certain spices— some must be cooked fast to retain fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and black structure and nutritional value. Of course individual chefs will have their own secrets: Ajay Bharatdwaj of Kalpna, for example, seasons aubergine with asafoetida and little, sharp ajwain seeds; chickpeas, which are hard to digest, he prepares with

salt—the Indian answerto Rennie’s. But the point is, they are working within

the boundaries of an established art— a

science even: the head of the Indian

kitchen will balance the health-giving

. properties of the foodstuffs available to

: herto meet the needs of different

members of herfamily, and diet is always the first consideration in

; combating illness.

I had hoped to make this piece

. something of a ‘tips from India for

vegetarian cooks’, and there is a great deal we can learn —the delicious

effects of using concentrated

reductions of tomatoes and onions as a

base; the value of whole roast spices

a used separately, for texture as well as

3 flavour, for example. But itwould take

2 a ten, fifteen, year apprenticeship to

begin to be proficient in Indian


If the difficulty of preparing European

i vegetarian food as delicious as its

i Indian equivalent is frustrating, it is

9 also what makes it so exciting that we

5 have Kalpna and Suruchi on our

i doorstep. (Catherine Fellows)

Kalpna, 2/3 St Patrick’s Square, Edinburgh, 031 667 9890 Suruchi,14a Nicolson Street,

Edinburgh, 031 556 6583