First tobacco, now meat

Posted on September 24, 2015

Kerry McCarthy, the new shadow agriculture spokesperson and a 'militant' vegan, has told vegan lifestyle magazine Viva!Life that meat eaters should be treated like smokers: "I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it."

While McCarthy's views about animal foods have been subject to considerable ridicule – particularly as she is now supposed to provide the official opposition in Parliament to the government on Britain's meat, dairy and egg industries – it's the underlying implication of her comparison, and her critics' reaction, that should worry us most: meat eaters don't deserve it, smokers do.

In truth no one should be treated the way smokers are at present: forced to stand outside every pub and club in the country simply to enjoy their habit, vilified as 'dirty' and 'disgusting', lectured endlessly, subjected to tendentious campaigns about the threat they allegedly pose to their children, unable to light up in their own cars for threat of a fine if they are carrying children or a workmate, refused NHS operations in some parts of the country, and taxed to the point of penury.

No wonder meat lovers were enraged by the suggestion. But it would be better if they were enraged as much by the treatment of everyone consuming a legal product they enjoy.