Author(s): Louise Gray
Celebrity chefs, from Jamie Oliver to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, all dictate we should know exactly where our meat comes from. So what if you took this modern day maxim to its logical conclusion? What if you only ate animals you killed yourself? Fed up of friends claiming to care about the provenance of their food, Louise Gray decides to follow the argument to its logical extreme. Starting small, Louise shucks oysters and catches fish. Gradually she gets to know countrymen and women who teach her how to shoot pigeons and rabbits. As she begins to reconnect with nature and her own upbringing in the countryside, Louise starts to question modern attitudes to the meat we eat. How did we end up eating so much meat with no idea how animals are raised and killed on our behalves? Louise begins to look into how our meat is processed, including the beef in McDonald's burgers, cheap chicken, bacon and farmed fish. She researches halal slaughter and visits abattoirs to ask whether modern technology can make eating meat more humane. She goes on a pheasant shoot and onto a grouse moor and contemplates whether there is still a place for game shooting in modern Britain. And she delves into alternative food culture in the UK, sourcing roadkill and cooking herself a lovely bit of squirrel stir-fry. The biggest animal Louise kills is a red deer stag, a moment she describes in a chapter about taking responsibility, growing up and her relationship with her own father. Towards the end of her challenge, Louise explores alternative sources of protein, including eating insects, in vitro meat and plant-based proteins. She reflects on the impact of the growing global demand for meat and argues that all of us eating less meat should be a key part of fighting climate change. Louise's writing about nature, food and the environment is liberally dashed with humour and she gets to the heart of modern anxieties about where our meat comes from, asking the most important question of all: is it possible to be an ethical carnivore?
By only eating animals she has killed herself for a year, Louise Gray explores our relationship with the animals we eat and how we might reconnect with the natural world through food.
A charming and eye-opening book the Guardian This humane, adventurous and wonderfully illuminating exploration will entertain and challenge everyone, from carnivore to vegan. -- Patrick Barkham Vivid, visceral and honest. Gray observes without ever being detached, and that's a rare talent. -- Ella Risbridger Compellingly readable, wise and kind. There's plenty of serious reflection too, all the more arresting for Gray's lightness of touch. -- Charles Foster Beautifully written. Brave and personal. -- Kerstin Rodgers A thorough, engaging, sometimes shocking account of where our meat comes from. It is also, importantly, a book about caring. -- Malachy Tallack Caught by the River Sensitive and powerful. Prospect Well paced, well researched and politically even-handed. Country Life Louise Gray is a micromaster. The Scotsman It will make you look at dinner differently. -- Mark Avery The book has charm and style... The accounts of hunting trips with her father contain some vivid and quite moving nature writing. the Guardian She writes well and this is a book that all should read - but it isn't simply a duty, it's a gritty pleasure. -- Mark Avery
Louise Gray is a freelance writer based in Scotland. She trained with The Press Association and was a staff writer for The Scotsman. From 2008 to 2013 she was Environment Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. Louise specialises in writing about food, farming and climate change. In recent years she has written for The Sunday Times, Scottish Field, the Guardian and The Spectator, among others. She has also appeared on BBC television and radio. Louise is passionate about environmental issues, increasingly focusing on how individuals can make a difference through the choices they make, such as the food we eat. The Ethical Carnivore is her first book. @loubgray / www.louisebgray.com
1. Blaze - Rabbit: Louise sets out on her journey to only eat what she kills herself and explains her reasons for doing so. Her first kill is a disaster. But it teachers Louise the importance of respecting animals and the challenges she will face. Recipe - WWII Rabbit curry 2. Pearls - Oyster: Louise explores the ethics of eating shellfish. Do they feel pain? Or is the state of the ocean a more important factor considering ethics? Recipe - Boozy mussels 3. Brownies - Trout: Louise goes fishing with George Monbiot and learns about fly-fishing. She learns about the connection between fishermen and the environment. Recipe - Brown trout wrapped in wild garlic 4. Game Bird - Pheasant: Louise tries game shooting. She is fascinated by the culture and tradition of it. But can it ever be ethical? Recipe - Pheasant in green butter 5. Minions - Piglets: Louise witnesses her first slaughterhouse and is shocked and upset. Recipe - Pig's heid terrine 6. Soays - Sheep: Louise explores the history of farming and the work of farmers to raise animals well. She shoots and butchers a wild sheep. Recipe - Lamb's liver pizza 7. Gobby Teens - Veal: Louise talks to the RSPCA about the history of animal slaughter. Recipe - Veal meatballs 8. Grown Ups - Cow: Louise learns how technology and science today is making the slaughter of cattle more humane. Recipe - Tongue sandwiches 9. Colin - Chicken: Louise visits a chicken farm and questions the move of animals into industrial agriculture. She kills and cooks a chicken. Recipe - Chicken soup for the soul 10. Vermin - Squirrel: Louise learns how to source meat as road kill. Is this more ethical? Recipe - Squirrel satay 11. Swine - Pig: Louise witnesses the ultimate industrialisation of animal farming in Denmark. Recipe - Veggie sausages 12. Sharks - Cod: Louise goes fishing for mackerel and cod. Can we continue to eat wild fish whilst protecting the oceans? Recipe - Cod roe on toast/Mackerel with gooseberry sauce 13. The Leaper - Salmon: Louise explores the growth of aquaculture. Is this a more ethical way to eat fish? Recipe - Kelp seaweed stir-fry 14. Damh - Stag: Louise kills a stag. What has she learned about women hunting animals for food. Recipe - Stag heart stew 15. Curious Vegan - Vegetables: Louise looks back on her year and considers the wider picture of why we eat meat and how we might as a society go forward. Recipe - Philosophical humus