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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Butchered swans should make us think about where our meat comes from

Is it because of their beauty we recoil at the thought of eating swans, but not ducks, geese or chickens?
Is it because of their beauty we recoil at the thought of eating swans, but not ducks, geese or chickens?

I, like many others I’m sure, was sickened to hear of the way in which the swans at Kings Mill had apparently been killed for their meat.

It’s not just the brutality of this act and the blatant disregard for the law that is so upsetting but the fact that the folklore and poetry that surrounds these beautiful birds makes them seem more than just a source of protein. You may have heard stories about swans mating for life, and many do.

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You might also have heard the legend of the ‘swan song’, based upon an ancient belief that swans sing a beautiful song in the moment just before death, having been silent most of their lives.

I suppose there is a degree of anthropomorphism involved, it’s the reason that most meat eaters find it easier to eat beef and pork but not fluffy bunny rabbits or beautiful graceful swans. But how much thought do we give to where our meat comes from?

The Humane Slaughter Association reports that every year in the UK approximately 2.6 million cattle, 10 million pigs, 14.5 million sheep and lambs, 80 million fish and 950 million birds are slaughtered for human consumption.

How much of that meat is wasted?

No, I’m not a vegetarian, let me assure you that I am a confirmed meat eater but doesn’t that mean I should give a little thought to where that meat comes from?

The fact we breed animals for food is an established part of our culture and we now do it with as much compassion as possible. Pity that compassion didn’t protect he swans.

But, although I am sickened at the thought of swans being butchered, I have no great moral platform from which to proclaim this fact without appearing a little hypocritical.

DREW BAXTER

Humanist

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