VEGA News Item

Gamesmanship - 04/02/2008
Huntin’, Shootin’, Fishin’ or Games with Political Aims.
Huntin’, Shootin’, Fishin’ or Games with Political Aims.

The former Tory hard man, Lord Tebbit of Chingford, who was a key figure in Margaret Thatcher’s governments and a Tory party chairman, is writing a book of recipes. Tebbit, 76, who is a keen shot, is collating recipes for cooking game such as pheasant, partridge and rabbit (Sunday Times and Independent on Sunday, 3 February 2008). This appears to be a salvo as he lays aside his shotgun from the final legal pheasant shoot of this season. “To this day I can think of few things better than shooting a bird, plucking it, cooking it, and then eating it,” he says. For the past few years, with more time on his hands, Tebbit has enjoyed hunting for game and cooking it. “I don’t shoot for the sake of it. That’s pointless. I shoot to cook and eat or to take it to the local butchers,” he says.

His favourite dish is partridge with pears and cheese. Another “delicious” dish involves pheasant with butter, onion, celery, bacon, cream, and half a bottle of red wine. Tebbit says that it is “important to recognize that children needed to vent their aggression, and that shooting allowed them to do it in appositive way. Kids should go out on shoots. It gives them a sense of excitement, and kids, especially young boys, have a need for a degree of violence. It is much better than playing a ghastly computer game.” His views chime well with those of Clarissa Dickson Wright, who published The Game Cookbook in 2004. Game is not only a healthy source of protein, they say, but it has no fat and is raised in natural surroundings (although Chingford, bordering on Essex and close to Epping Forest, a public area beloved as a green lung of fresh unsullied air by the public and conservationists) is no natural scene for human depredations on bird life nor shooting of any kind.

Clarissa Dickson Wright declares that “the urban middle classes are very wary” of shooting and its results. “They either don’t know how to cook it, or the fluffies – those anti-hunting people – think it’s not nice to cook what’s been shot.

We think that all people, urban and rural as well as royals, are taking a sharper interest in blood sports and the unnecessary use of guns in the countryside and streets. Recent publicity for factory farming and massacres on a scale well beyond the direst computer games are no excuse for blasting off for the pot, when the victims are bred unequal for the game. Nonetheless, no animal welfarist or environmentalist can overlook political trends that may determine the results more significantly in the next election than the last.

When ministers of agriculture can interpret global policies into the needs for reduced consumption of meat and dairy products and will begin to vie in demonstrations of their commitment, the “nasty” games that Tebbit and Dickson Wright play will appear as odious as hunting and fishing, even in the shires. This week’s Grocer magazine publishes a feature on the buoyant market in meat-frees, casting off the forbidding and restrictive vegetarian and vegan V-words. Dairy-frees are already well-established and developing. Alpro are now in the market for double-barrelled products both meat- and dairy-free. That’s the name of the game for VEGA.  

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