Faggots: A misunderstood meat

First, a disclaimer, the term “faggots” is not in any way intended as an offensive term for a gay person (though the title does work ironically well in that context), but rather as a lovely foodstuff made from various animal inside-y bits.

There are many definitions for the word “faggot” and unfortunately the one that most quickly comes to mind is far more crude than the originally intended 13th century definition: “a bundle of twigs bound up”.

In this case, however, we’re talking about good old fashioned British faggots, a combination of all the offal (internal organs and entrails) you can imagine, mainly liver and sometimes heart, encased in bit of fat or skin and then roasted. Making their way onto the menus of many a Michelin star restaurant, they are the trendiest thing to be stuffing your face with right now.

You might say it’s the Welsh response to pâté. Delicious until you hear what’s in it, then suddenly you’d like it to be as far away from your mouth as possible, but offal is underrated. As bursting with health benefits as it is taste, livers got all the vitamin A you could want while kidneys are a great source of iron.

But even if you can’t stomach the taste, faggots are at least a source of humour. For all our American and Canadian friends who mouths still haven’t quite closed since reading the title, don’t worry, you aren’t the only ones who were shocked, the Canadian comedian Tom Stade enacts it perfectly.

You need to watch this:

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To meat or not to meat? The lowdown on meat substitutes

It’s Christmas time and what would Christmas be without the whole family coming together to scoff down a great big turkey!?

Bad news, it may not seem like it now, but our planet isn’t going to be able to cope with the binge culture we have adopted. What options will we have if meat runs out?

51.72% chose Vegetarianism;  39.66% wanted plant-based substitutes; 8.62% were keen for In Vitro meat

51.72% chose Vegetarianism, 39.66% wanted plant-based substitutes and 8.62% were keen for In Vitro meat. Poll made possible by polldaddy.com

  • In Vitro Meat
  • Plant-based substitutes
  • Vegetarianism

Here’s what you chose:

 
“We’re running out of everything,” professor of sustainability at the Welsh School of Architecture Huw Jenkins explains, “and if we don’t attend to that it will happen sooner.”

He may have been speaking about the architectural context of sustainability, but the fact is that our whole current system of living is absurdly greedy. Not even fifty years ago it would have been ridiculous to expect meat in every meal, but now it would not be unusual to have sausages for breakfast, a chicken sandwich for lunch and spaghetti bolognese for dinner.

Meat is no longer seen as a luxury but it still comes at a cost.

The documentary Meat the Truth, put’s it into perspective, here’s the trailer (try to ignore the overly dramatic music).

Jenkins went on to introduce the “three planet argument”, which describes how the way the human race live now will take the resources of three planets to maintain.

Unfortunately we don’t have three planets, sure a few earth look-a-likes have been spotted, but 42 light-years is a hell of a long commute so it’s probably best to look after the one we’ve got.

Meat farming is one of the biggest drains on our resources and also arguably one of the easiest to change, so what are the alternatives?

Behind door number one we have In Vitro meat, also known as cultured meat, which is made through a stem cell science very similar to the process used in the production of organ grafts.

Here’s an explanatory video from someone with first hand knowledge:

The scientist behind this ground-breaking research, Mark Post, puts it simply, “By our technology we are actually producing meat, it’s just not in a cow.”

For the majority of people, at least according to the survey done a few days ago, the first instinct when considering eating meat grown in a petri dish is “ew”. But is it the way forward?

Winston Churchill thought so way back in 1931 when he wrote,

“We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium…The new foods will from the outset be practically indistinguishable from the natural products, and any changes will be so gradual as to escape observation.”

Dr Neil Stephens, an In Vitro meat specialist from Cardiff University, seems excited by the concept, explaining how the scientists actually producing the meat are looking for ways to exercise the muscle and tissue they are creating in order perfect the familiar meat texture that does essentially come from the way animals use their muscles before they are killed.

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Only €300,000 later, a ready made beef patty from stem cells. Image supplied by cuturedbeef

The first cultured beef burger was created by Mark Post and tasted in London in August. Stephens attended the even but admitted, “I didn’t taste any of it myself and I was too far away to even smell it…they said that the texture was better than they expected, but it could have used more salt.”

Watch a snippet of the Telegraph’s coverage of the taste test

But is it really feasible? If this slightly disappointing burger cost around €300,000, imagine how much a turkey with stuffing would cost? Even Stephens admits, “There’s a huge amount of uncertainty about what level of cheapening can be obtained to make it comparable to meat in the supermarket today. If it doesn’t get into the same zone then it’s going to have very limited use and it’s not really going to address global climate change…There’s still some distance to travel between where we are today and when it’s going to be a marketable reality.”

What do the public think of In Vitro meat, we went to find out, have a listen here:

There are some who see no potential in test tube meat, Niko Koffeman, one of the founders of the Vegetarian Butcher, calls cultured meat “a dead born brainchild”.

This leads us to what’s behind door number two: Plant-based substitutes.

This does not just mean Quorn. Though Quorn is a healthy alternative to meat and funnily enough was originally produced because of a predicted protein shortage in the 1960s, it is not anything new.

Koffeman puts it succinctly, “The old-skool meat substitutes are outdated…we developed a chicken structure from soy which cannot be distinguished from real meat.”

And he’s not the only one who thinks so, Marnie Chesterton did a taste test of the Vegetarian Butcher’s chicken on her Radio Netherlands Worldwide show, and said she wouldn’t have known the difference,

“It’s got that fibrous quality that meat has, and it’s really tender and it tastes good!”

Koffeman is confident in his product, explaining, “Our products can completely replace all meat. It has the same taste, bite and nutritional value as the real thing (or even better than that).”

He even recognises their potential to make a positive difference, “With the existing cropland we could feed 10 billion people if we stop degrading plant-based proteins into animal-feed and biofules.

We don’t believe this [in vitro meat] will be the future of food, it will take a long time, it’s still inefficient, it’s expensive and it can’t feed the world…the structuring of plantbased proteins is far ahead of cultured meat now.”

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The Vegetarian Butcher’s “chicken”, looks like chicken…

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…Apparently it “tastes like chicken” too. Images supplied by Koffeman, the Vegetarian Butcher

While Koffeman states their products contain the same nutrients as animal meats, this is not the case as many nutrients like Vitamin B12, Creatine and Vitamin D3 can only be found in animal products.

This brings us to door number three, Vegetarianism.

It’s the simple, healthy solution, and even stem-cell-burger-grower Mark Post says rather than introducing themselves to his test tube grown meat, vegetarians would be better off remaining vegetarians.

Sure meat has been linked to our evolutionary progress and brain development, but definitely not in the quantities we’ve gotten used to.

Vegetarianism may be an (incredibly) extreme solution, but even if it were just a change made one day a week, like the Norwegian armies ‘Meatless Mondays‘, it would have a tremendous impact.

It might be against the Christmas spirit to eat in moderation, but if eating less meat now will mean the turkey of the future will still come from a bird, it’s definitely a change worth making.

Sprouts are much more delicious than childhood memories indicate, but nothing epitomises Christmas like a stuffed turkey. Photo taken by Sophia Epstein

Sprouts are much more delicious than childhood memories indicate, but nothing epitomises Christmas like a stuffed turkey, or the girl stuffed with it. Photo taken by Sophia Epstein

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Meat is nice, but are we eating too much of it? Have a look at this video, it’s called SAMSARA Food Sequence:

If we keep consuming at the rate that we are then we might (probably, definitely) run out of meat. Then what are our options?

Please fill out our poll!

Al Gore has become the latest celebrity to jump on the vegan bandwagon. The An Inconvenient Truth creator has been a vegetarian since the making of his documentary in 2006 and now he’s gone the whole hog (definitely not literally) and committed to veganism.

Farming didn't use to be all that bad. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library

Farming didn’t use to be all that bad. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library

Being a climate change fanatic, Gore’s reasons for his dietary change are probably environmental, which is admirable and honestly the only reason I would ever contemplate giving up meat (but not eggs, never eggs). Other celebrities on the vegan list cite different reasons for taking the step.

Russell Brand, one of my favourite people, was pushed over the vegetarian/vegan border by Forks Over Knives, a documentary exploring the negative impact meat has on our health.

But that’s not really fair is it, no offense Rusty but surely being sensible about the amount of meat you eat as well as the type of meat would be enough to keep yourself healthy (quality over quantity eh?). I’ve eaten meat my whole life and I don’t have diabetes.

The top reason for the move seems to be animal rights. Natalie Portman, formerly a vegetarian because she believes “animals have personalities” was turned onto the vegan view by Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals (read an excerpt here). The book does make some good points about animal cruelty in farming:

“I felt shame for living in a nation of unprecedented prosperity — a nation that spends a smaller percentage of income on food than any other civilization has in human history — but in the name of affordability treats the animals it eats with cruelty so extreme it would be illegal if inflicted on a dog.”

But again, that’s not really fair is it. What about organic farming? Livestock that are treated, I won’t say lovingly, but with respect. Foer calls free-range food labels “bullshit”, accusing the guidelines of not being strict enough. This may be true in some circumstances, but surely that means farming welfare restrictions should be more highly controlled rather than cutting out meat from our diet altogether.

To each their own…personally I like a bit of beef tartare on a Tuesday afternoon.

The big V

Aside

What does your favourite meat say about you?

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Steak

You’re traditional, why mess with something that is already perfection right? If you like it rare, you’re right, well done. Well done? You’re wrong, try harder. You know what you like and you’re not going to change your mind. You believe firmly in quality over quantity,so you’re always willing to pay for the best.

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Bacon

You’re a cliché, too quick to conform. I mean, yes it’s delicious, and crispy and yeah…maybe you have a point. You’re obviously awesome. Rock on.

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Sausages

You appreciate the simple things in life, whether you’re a fan of the 42% pork  Richmonds or the Organic pork and caramelised onion variety. You’re the proof that one thing can work beautifully in many different settings, and similarly you are very accepting of new people and feel comfortable in situations may not be used to.

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Fish

I know it’s a broad generalisation putting all fish in one category, but you fish fiends know who you are! You’re health conscious but too adventurous for chicken. You’re not an aggressive person, as easy to get along with as fish is to chew. No matter what your personality though, it better be pole and line caught.

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Chicken

You’re less concerned in the meat than the flavours you can add to it. You might have your usual choice but you’re not afraid to experiment, just like in life. You’re loyal to your favourite places; your local pub landlord even knows your name, but every once in while you’re tempted into something new (like a chicken kiev!)

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Seafood

You’re not adverse to waiting for results, you’re happy to take the time to peel a prawn or crack through a crab shell because you know the result will be delicious and worth it. You don’t need immediate gratification; you would take the time to climb a mountain to paraglide off rather than settling for a hill.

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Tofu

Not just for vegetarians…it’s for the vegans too. Just kidding. You’re interesting, international, and like tofu, many might not know there are different sides to your personality, from the soft silken side to the tougher firm variations. People might judge you before they get to know you but once you’ve made a friend they will be with you for life.

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Fish, raw

You’re cosmopolitan, and you probably don’t mind the drink either. You’re comfortable in the city alongside the hustle and bustle. I mean sushi fans are obviously too busy for excessive things like cooking.

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Lamb

Ooh fancy. You’re big on flavour. Lamb meat stands on its own, bar a sprig of rosemary, and you are the same. You don’t depend on cool gadgets and flashy clothes to make yourself interesting; your personality (and rosemary perfume) is enough.

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Ham

You’re underrated, always overshadowed by your overrated older brother Gammon and your up-himself second cousin Bacon. Like ham you’re sweet and fit in everywhere and with everyone, from your standard ham sandwich childhood friends to the more adventurous ham and pineapple pizza friendship group from university. You may not need to be the centre of attention, but your presence is always appreciated.

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Chorizo

You like a bit of spice in your life, your lust for adventure outweighs your knowledge of the fat content. It’s not a meat that is commonplace, but just like you it makes a big impact on any situation (meal) it is present at (in). But like the rest of us, you can’t help but feel like a dick when you say “chorizo” in a Spanish accent.

Did we predict your personality or were we way off? Let us know in the comments below!

Images drawn with Sketches app

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Easy Steak Recipe For Real Men’s Magazine

I’ve just re-stumbled across this hilarious piece by Anna Drezen, I loved it the first time and it’s still hilarious now!

Thought Catalog

by Dirk McDaniels

1. Go to the butcher. Look him dead in the eye and say “Meat.” If he’s a man worth half his salt, he’ll know.

2. Take that meat.

3. Kick your door open with your head. Go find the fire-room (kitchen, to the feminized).

4. Toss part of meat in an old iron skillet your grandfather gave you the day you shot your first buck. A flat stone covered in noseblood works, too.

5. Rub it with some red spice, a little beige spice, some green fucking leaves, and whatever liquid’s got your goat. This ain’t math. It’s sex. You’re having sex with the meat.

6. Have sex with the meat.

7. Cook the ever loving Christ out of it. Cook it, good God, your father saved the life of every man in his unit when he was your age, cook the god danged meat or hang…

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Meatless mondays

The Norwegian military are in conflict with a new enemy: Climate change.

It’s not just meat on your plate, keep in mind the consequences.
Image provided by dothegreenthing

While the United Nations holds it’s Climate Change Conference in Poland, the Norwegian army have committed to their own fight against our climate change problem by going vegetarian on Monday.

It might seem like an odd choice, but cutting out meat for only one day a week is expected to cut down the army’s meat consumption by 150 tonnes each year.

A spokesperson for the Norwegian military explained, “It’s a step to protect our climate. The idea is to serve food that’s respectful of the environment. It’s not about saving money. It’s about being more concerned for our climate, more ecologically friendly, and also healthier.”

According to The Future in Our Hands, a Norwegian environmental group, the average Norwegian eats more than 1,200 animals over the course of their life, including 1,147 chickens, 22 sheep, six cattle and 2.6 deer.

That’s a lot of meat, especially as farming is estimated to be responsible for at least 18% of greenhouse emissions, maybe more, Bill Gates thinks it could be closer to 51%

It’s a small change that could make a big one!

Would you ever give up meat for the environment? Let us know in the comments below.

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