I’m a vegetarian.

Don’t get me wrong, I love meat.

I just don’t like killing animals in order to enjoy it.

And I know I don’t need meat to live.

Which means, if I eat meat, another living creature has to die purely for my pleasure.

People usually say, “That makes no difference, they’re going to kill cows anyway.”

Come on, we all know the law of Supply and Demand.

If there was no demand for meat they wouldn’t need to supply it.

You can see the law of Supply and Demand at work in every supermarket in the land.

It’s called Electronic Stocktaking.

The person at the checkout scans the barcode, and the system immediately reorders replacement stock.

So you know what you buy has a direct and immediate effect.

Pretending otherwise is living in denial.

I don’t eat meat because I feel bad about killing animals.

You know what it feels like when you have a nightmare?

You can’t run, you can’t shout, you’re helpless.

There is no rational thought, just stark terror.

I think that’s what an animal must feel in a slaughterhouse.

Unthinking, stark terror.

And I don’t want to be the cause of that.

There are three basic reasons for being vegetarian.

Ethical. Ecological. Health.

Mine is obviously the first.

But it’s worth taking a look at the other two.

Take ecology.

Cattle farming has four main products: meat, milk, leather, and methane.

Cows fart a lot.

And cow fart is mainly methane.

Apparently, methane is responsible for almost 20% of greenhouse gases.

Methane traps twenty times more heat than the equivalent amount of CO2.

Scientists say the level of methane in the Arctic is now far, far higher than any time in the last 400,000 years.

Also huge masses of rain forest are being burned to make way for cattle farming.

An area the size of Wales each year.

And the problem is that trees store CO2 as they grow.

When they’re burned, all that CO2 stored inside the tree gets released back into the atmosphere.

So massive meat eating creates global warming two ways.

But it has another effect on the planet.

The cattle population of North and South America consume as much grain as the human population of China and India combined.

Because it takes eight pounds of grain to grow one pound of beef.

Think how that much grain could help the starving third world if we wanted.

Finally, health.

There are different views on whether you think our bodies were designed to eat meat or vegetables.

Carnivores or herbivores.

We can use the argument about teeth to confirm our personal prejudice.

See, we have an overwhelming amount of grinding teeth, like herbivores.

But we also have two small, possibly pointed teeth, reminiscent of carnivores.

My opinion?

Look at a cow or a horse’s teeth.

Then look at a dog or a cat’s teeth.

See which looks most like what’s in your own mouth.

Another argument I’ve heard concerns intestines.

Grain-eaters are long-intestined animals.

Meat-eaters are short-intestined.

This is because it takes a lot longer for the digestive system to break down grain than it does meat.

And meat goes bad a lot faster.

So it’s important to expel the meat before it gets toxic.

Which is why carnivores are short-intestined.

Humans, incidentally, are long-intestined.

So you read the facts and you make your choice.

I don’t expect everyone to share my views.

I’ve worked with Gordon Smith for many years.

Gordon kills a lot of living things.

Partridge, pheasant, geese, deer, hares, rabbits.

But we can have a reasonable debate about it, and ultimately agree to differ.

The important thing for me is that each person thinks about it.

And each person takes responsibility for what they do.

For me, it’s not about ecology or health.

My personal views are better expressed by two of my heroes.

Someone once asked the philosopher Jeremy Bentham why he objected to killing animals,

After all, animals don’t have the power of rational thought, like man.

Bentham said, “The question, sir, is not can they think, but can they suffer?”

The other quote is from Buddha.

He said, “We should go through life doing as little harm as possible.”