George Monbiot has written an article about how he recently ate roadkill: a grey squirrel. I think that if we must eat animals then roadkill is probably the most ethical of all the options since the animal is dead anyway. But in his article he describes how he was admonished for doing this by people who eat meat. These are people who presumably ignore the suffering of factory-farmed animals and their environmental consequences. The vast majority of chickens grown for meat in the UK are fed soya, a food humans can eat but which is instead fed to chickens that have short, painful lives, cramped in sheds with the space-equivalent each of an A4 piece of paper.
Surely eating the dead carcass of an animal that has known freedom is preferable to this?
I’ve always been interested in feeding humans, perhaps because I’m the daughter of an agricultural scientist, but what I find most fascinating is how much our culture impacts our food choices and how rigid it makes us. Most people would never dream of changing their evening meal from meat and three veg to something else, even though the something else may taste better and be better for our health. Meat and three veg is our culture, a habit, we know how it tastes, we know how to cook it.
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) has a campaign to bring insects into our diet. The environmental consequences of eating insects are far lower than for livestock, insects are also very nutritious and yet the cultural barrier is huge. Would you be prepared to eat insects? I’m not sure how to change this, especially after reading the reactions to George Monbiot’s article which are mostly irrational. However one thing is certain, we can’t feed 9 billion people with the same diet that the average American eats today.
Here’s a good documentary about a man in the UK who eats roadkill on a regular basis.