By Turriff JAC's Murray Stephen


A CLICHÉ this is, I know, but I thought I would begin my article by quoting a word from the dictionary.

“Choice; noun; the act of choosing between two or more possibilities”

What has the word choice got to do with farming I hear you ask? We have more choice now than we have ever had. We can choose where to go on holiday and how to get there, be it plane, train or automobile.

We can choose if we wish to go onto further education or dive straight into the world of work when we leave school. We choose who our friends are, who our partners are. We can choose what clothes to wear, what vehicle to drive. We even live in a society where we can choose our genders.

The point I’m trying to make is that we have the privilege to be able to choose how we live. We do not have to seek approval for our choices, nor do we have to ask permission. This ability to choose is because we live in a fair and free society.

I believe that the freedom to choose effects all aspects of our everyday life, especially what we eat. We choose what we want to eat for our meals, what time to eat them and how to cook them.

We choose whether to have boiled potatoes or chips, peas or carrots, diane sauce or leek and stilton and how we like our steaks cooked. Whether you prefer yours cooked rare, medium, well-done or prefer not to have meat at all, it is our freedom to choose that enables us to do so.

I have nothing against vegetarians or vegans. How anyone chooses to live their life is none of my business and frankly, I could not care less. If you choose the salad over the steak, the mushroom over the mutton or the organic, fair trade, gluten free, non-GMO, plant-based veggie patty over the beef burger, chomp away to your hearts content.

I personally would never choose the veggie patty over the good ‘ole’ beef burger, because, well … why would I, but I would never stop anyone from doing so. And why would I? I may not agree with your choice to practice veganism, but I respect it.

During my 28 years on this planet, I have on occasion opted for the vegan option. When sailing through the Whitsundays, in Australia, the sweet and sour chickpea salad with beetroot hummus looked far more appetising than the chicken Caesar salad on offer.

Rather than have the haggis bon-bons for a starter, I occasionally have the mushroom soup, and for dessert, a lemon sorbet as opposed to sticky toffee pudding.

I am by no means a fussy eater and I am willing to try everything at least once, because unless I try it how do I know I don’t like it. With this mindset I have tried quorn and ‘meat-free’ meats, and honestly, they were not awful.

But, I would still pick 100% Scotch meat over a vegan dish any day, but on the rare occasions I chose these dishes because I could. I chose them to try them and thought that they were delicious. However, I maintain that no matter what you do to it, tofu is disgusting!

I would never force anyone into doing something that they did not want to do. For instance, if I ever had a vegan come over to my house for a meal, I would not force them to eat meat if they did not want to. However, increasingly I have seen the vegan agenda being forced onto people with the option of meat no longer being allowed.

The Golden Globes, a night in which the Hollywood elite gather to celebrate another monumental year in film and television, offered up a 100% vegan meal to its guests, with not a trace of meat or dairy in sight.

With the help of best actor winner Joaquin Phoenix, a lifelong vegan, their reasoning behind this was to supposedly to promote a healthy diet and they claimed that a vegan diet helps to sustain the environment. This coming from a bunch of celebrities who probably travelled to Hollywood in private jets, arrived at the ceremony one limousine per person and wearing clothes that they will only wear once.

And yet they want to lecture us on how meat is killing the planet.

Edinburgh University, as I am sure you are aware, were debating to ban the sale of all animal products from their campuses. So much did they want to force this agenda onto everyone that they refused to let any meat industry representatives attend and to give the opposing argument as to why it could be a bad idea.

Thankfully this was put to a vote and it did not pass, but again we see the choice of meat being removed from us and an unhealthy vegan alternative being pushed onto us.

When we are told that we cannot have something, we naturally want to rebel. Essentially, we give a big middle finger to the nay-sayers, telling them that despite their objections, we can have what they say we can’t. By removing choice, you create resistance. You’re going to get people who will fight back. If you want to become a vegan, fine. I’m not going to stop you.

All I ask is that you stop trying to force it onto me and the rest of society by no longer offering meat as a choice. If I ever do eat that sweet and sour chickpea salad with beetroot hummus again, it will be because I chose to eat it, not because it was forced onto me or because I had no alternative.

I leave you with some choice words that my auntie once told me, words that you could use next time you are confronted with a vegan spreading malicious lies about the Scottish farming industry: “I do not force my views onto you, so kindly do not force your views onto me”.