Mark Wilson: Don’t tell me or others how to eat, pray and love


Summer is BBQ time and what a glorious start to the BBQ season here in the Wakatipu. Add in some great Test cricket on the TV and the arrival of our latest shipment of Bainfield Road lamb from down south, the team at Arthurs Shore couldn’t be happier.

However, as each year goes by I feel a growing animosity towards the carnivores amongst us. It started but a whisper but, amplified by like-minded anti-meat and dairy campaigners banding together on social media and more support in mainstream media, it is now a full-blown movement of some size.

I’ve got nothing against people eating what they want or for that matter, believing in any god they want or competing in bedroom Olympics with a gender of their choosing – this is providing of course they afford the same courtesy to me.

I regularly endure strings of negative and often abusive comments online whenever I post, share or comment on my support of the agricultural industry or enjoyment of steaks and thickshakes.

In contrast, I think to myself when was the last time I told a vegetarian they shouldn’t eat vegetables or a pescetarian they shouldn’t eat fish?

It used to be simpler. As a scruffy wee kid I smashed back the Southland staple meat and three vege with the carefree naivety of youth.

New Zealand was a place where people could eat what they liked and at worst get a confused look at the restaurant.

NZ had a role, we fed others, we still do. NZ is the number one exporter of dairy products and sheep meat globally and while we are no longer just one big farm, agriculture and the trade of animal-based products still accounts for almost two-thirds of all our exports.

I get it some people don’t like the taste of meat or dairy, I feel your pain, I hate feta, cucumber and olives. Others have food allergies or health issues which limit what they can eat. I sympathise with those who must forgo some of life’s great delicacies.

There are slightly more aggressive antagonists who feel moral outrage over the consumption of animal products but I’m outraged at some things going on around the world as well so I can relate. Whatever the reason is, you are entirely welcome to choose what sits on your plate, just not what sits on mine.

What does aggrieve me is science denial, the kind we saw during the US election and to a lesser extent our own and those who spread around recklessly this mis-information and click bait on so-called health impacts so that it can be picked up by the easily-influenced online.

Cue a flurry of posts on farming ruining the world here…

In moderation, animal proteins from meat and dairy form a key part of a balanced diet for most of the population, or so my sister, who seemed to spend most of her life studying nutrition and dietetics at university, tells me along with the Ministry of Health and every other major reputable public health institution here and globally.

The other thing I think we forget is the poor producer in all of this. The attacks on their product and their way of life are shameful. Most farmers I know love their animals and most hunters respect their prey, there will always be those who don’t but that’s humanity for you.

What is also very human is that we evolved from hunter-gathers by domesticating animals and planting crops (farming) – it allowed us to develop the modern society that we enjoy today.

Without us carnivores, there would be no modern civilisation, no BBQ season, no tofu sausages!

Mark Wilson is a Queenstown marketing consultant who eats vegans for breakfast