Sunday, 27 February 2011

Can a vegetarian talk tripe?


This is Professor A. C. Grayling, philosopher, atheist and prolific writer.

He is also a vegetarian.

I have no problem with that, many of my favourite meals contain no meat:

Fresh pasta with pesto sauce, Margarita pizza, rhubarb crumble.

But I read one of his articles today and, when it comes to vegetarianism, the guy is as fanatical and as irrational as the worst religious fundamentalists he argues against.

Some examples:

"What butchers call 'fresh meat' is nothing of the sort, but is in fact carrion, because meat is only soft enough to cut, cook and eat when it has begun to decay. "

Comment: All meat carcasses are carrion, by definition. The hanging process has nothing to do with bacteria, indeed meat is kept cool (1-3 deg C) to prevent bacterial growth. The softening of the meat tissues during hanging is an enzymatic process, not bacterial.


"Rotting is effected by millions of bacteria swarming in the meat; their task is to pre-digest it for us by eating it first; the gamey smell of hung venison comes from the excrement of the microbes smeared all over it - everything that eats must excrete, and the meat is both dining room and toilet for the microbes. "

Comment: Lots of emotive words, little fact. Game is not common fare and the cooking process kills all bacteria.

"Their task"? Sounds awfully like Intelligent Design, professor!

"Everything that eats must excrete" is true enough but bacteria don't eat. Not in the sense of a digestive system with a mouth, intestines and anus.

You do seem to have it in for bacteria. Does that mean you don’t eat yoghurt because of the billions of bacteria ‘defecating’ in it? Or cheese. Or coffee? Or Cocoa? Or vinegar? Or sourdough bread? Or soy sauce? Or vitamins B2 and B12?


"Perhaps you like filling your mouth with rotting flesh full of injected hormones and vaccines, pullulating with microbes and covered in microbe diarrhoea."

Comment: Even if the food was 'pullulating' with microbes, which it isn’t, all bacteria are killed by cooking. If meat was so tainted, why can people eat raw meat safely? OK, not chicken, but many other meats are eaten raw or rare with nary a blink from the health authorities. Is this dereliction of their duties or is possibly because there no risk?

I must pull you up on diarrhoea. Yes, it is a nice emotive word but it is factually quite wrong. Diarrhoea is often a bacterial infection in animals. There is no evidence of bacteria having bacterial infections. They do not even have a digestive system that would support such a process.


That will do. I can't help wondering how the good Professor would mark a student's paper if they wrote in such a bizarre manner and illogical manner.

But it is fascinating to see a normally logical and reasoned writer struggle with a topic quite obviously close to his heart. Rationale thought seems to have deserted him.

If I was a Creationist, which I'm not, and I was on the other side of a debate with Professor Grayling, which I am unlikely to be, I would have to slip in something like "God meant us to eat meat" and then watch him haemorrhage.


  1. rhubarb crumble without meat? Hideous!

  2. I have always enjoyed eating meat. I shall continue to do so. I have always equally enjoyed seeing fact puncture bombast :)

    (If only we could disarm our fanatical politicians with the same logical presentation of fact! )

  3. i don't know Lee, i'm with the prof. on this one. i was with u a little til u got to yr. last paragraph. I do not think we were meant to eat meat. our teeth & intestines suggest that we were not.
    the rotting carcess thing does get me too,as it is. and lastly the world population/hunger thing. take way less land to grow than to raise cattle.
    now if i could just beat the cravings. i'd sign up, again.

  4. Perhaps, on this, his cheese has slipped off his cracker.

  5. I do not eat meat. But I expect that all the veggies I eat are full of chemicals and have been crapped on by birds and insects! LOL

  6. Thank you dear Lee, a fascinating and informative post.
    Perhaps the Professor needs more protein in his diet.

    xoxoxo ♡

  7. Let me know if you do manage to be on the other side of a debate, by chance. I'd like to see that :)

    If someone was going to try to scare me into changing a habit or action, at least they could care to do it with facts. Wow.

  8. They and the bleeding hearts are experts at it!

  9. Sucked in, Prof. You've just had your BS busted by a food chemist. Better luck next time. :)

  10. Your response was simply wonderful. not that it will change a fanatic, facts rarely do.

  11. the most surprising part of your discussion was "If I was a Creationist, which I'm not, "

    Did you think we all just suddenly poofed in?


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