Do they want to ban us from eating meat?
IT SEEMS to me that animal rights zealots are winning their global battle to stop you eating meat.
DEBATE WITH DES IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW
I've just returned from Europe, where I noticed an extraordinary increase in anti-meat propaganda. And some of it is quite bizarre.
It was in Amsterdam that I realised animal activists had become extremists when they gathered to lay flowers in memory of hens lost in a barn fire at a Dutch egg farm.
The caged poultry didn't stand a chance, said one protester, with tears rolling down her cheeks.
She was described as an "ethical" vegetarian, with the inference that we are all unethical if we are not.
I admit I found her grief a little unsettling because it was genuine.
Then came a report from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), urging us all not to eat cheese because cows are "raped" to obtain the milk.
An online commentator wrote: "Can food really be sexist? Yes, when it's the product of imprisonment, rape, reproductive control, kidnapping, and abuse.
"Contrary to popular belief, female cows produce milk only when they're pregnant or nursing.
"They make milk for the same reason that human women do: to feed their babies.
"Cows who are imprisoned on dairy farms are forcibly impregnated through artificial insemination again and again on rape racks. Rape racks. All for your milk, cheese, and yoghurt."
PETA went on to claim there was widespread violence in the cattle industry, with calves often yanked out of the birth canal by their legs.
"The mothers are not allowed to nurse their babies. Instead, their infants are stolen from them, usually within hours of birth.
"Male calves considered worthless to the dairy industry are often sold for veal.''
I adore veal. Despite some animal welfare lapses, there is no widespread cruelty in the meat trade in this country or in Europe for that matter.
Strict practices govern the confinement and slaughter of all animals bred for human consumption.
Instead of being condemned, our farmers and graziers should be lauded for helping to feed a hungry world.
Most of the nation's beef herd is raised in northern Australia on land unsuitable for anything else.
We shouldn't feel guilty at all about eating meat.
It is proper that we have insisted on more humane practices in meat production, be it beef cattle, sheep, goats or pigs.
New laws are in place to give egg-laying hens larger cages. In any case, more and more farms are becoming genuinely "free range".
An increasing number of egg producers have open-door barns, allowing the birds to forage outside if they chose to.
There is no denying animal production can be a brutal business, but cruel practices from the past are being eliminated.
Pain-killing injections that work within seconds are now commonplace in the sheep industry, where castration and tail docking are practised.
Science is coming to the rescue in the beef industry, with tens of millions of dollars spent on what the University of Queensland vet school says is the "improvement or replacement of aversive practices like branding, dehorning and castration".
Cruel farming practices may continue in less enlightened countries, but they are rare in advanced societies.
So I'm getting a little tired of all the moral outrage from the anaemic carrot munchers who refuse to gnaw the bone and suck the marrow.
I thank God for giving me the teeth designed exactly for the purpose of ripping into animal flesh.
Eating meat allowed humankind to grow a bigger brain and rise triumphantly out of the Stone Age.
Meat-eating Christians can rest easy, with the Bible giving meat the all clear. From Genesis 9:3: "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you."
Beef, to me, also embodies this great nation's resilience and its indomitable spirit in conquering the wide brown land.
Meat eaters, however, continue to be demonised.
There has been a seismic shift of opinion against meat on health and environmental grounds, as well as "ethical" ones.
Australia will increasingly be drawn into this debate because of our ability to produce meat in huge volumes for the world trade. Our isolation won't help us.
Activists peddling videos of animal cruelty abroad are harming this nation's honourable record.
Perplexing ethical concerns about how we exploit animals for meat remain.
In less enlightened regimes, animals are still raised and killed in cruel conditions.
And grains that could feed the hungry are instead fed to animals.
There has been large-scale deforestation so pastures can be established.
The anti-meat propaganda is working. Polls in the UK point to a sharp decrease in meat eating in recent decades, especially by young people.
One in four Britons now favours a vegetarian lifestyle.
And I don't think the State Government or lobby groups such as Meat & Livestock Australia have strategies in place to counter the anti-meat tsunami about to engulf them.
Is it ethical to eat meat? Of course it is.
If it is morally wrong for humans to kill animals, may I suggest the animal rights activists have a big task ahead of them.
Their ethical stance will demand they start training lions not to devour wildebeests.
How on earth, I wonder, will they ever convince sharks not to eat coral trout and whales not to eat plankton?
Like it or not, we are part of a food chain that insists we kill or be killed.
A relative who became a vegetarian did not like it one bit when I pointed out that the blood and bone she uses to nourish her silverbeet is a by-product of the abattoir.
The animal lobby won't stop at campaigning against meat.
In Europe, dog shows are frequently disrupted by protesters who believe animals should not be trained to do tricks for our vicarious pleasures.
I wouldn't be surprised if rodeos, like bullfighting, will fade away. Racing will be banned. And shows like Sea World's dolphin show will be a thing of the past.