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April 21, 2021

Can there be ethical carnivores?

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Farmer, restaurateur, TV personality, and author Matthew Evans. Photo Alan Benson

The Northern Rivers may have a high percentage of vegans but the fact is the world’s population has an ever-growing, insatiable appetite for meat. Cheap meat at that.

So a book around the ethics of eating meat is certain to spark intense debate amongst vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores. On Eating Meat is that book and its author Matthew Evans is appearing at Byron Writers Festival.

The former food critic and chef, now farmer and restaurateur, grapples with the thorny issues around the way we rear and consume animals.

You may know Matthew from his SBS TV show The Gourmet Farmer. He gave up the city life a few years ago to tend a smallholding in Tasmania, Fat Pig Farm, where he fattens pigs, milks cows, tends a garden, and writes about food.

He has strong belief in Real Food – food where the provenance is known and the producer valued. It is his hope that more people will try to grow their own food (just start with parsley and go from there) or know exactly the provenance of their produce.

Matthew has delved seriously into food, so far writing 12 books including the authoritative and internationally bestselling Real Food Companion and his autobiography Never Order Chicken on a Monday.

As well as the long-running Gourmet Farmer TV series, he has made food documentaries What’s the Catch? and For the Love of Meat.

From feedlots and abattoirs to organic farms and animal-welfare agencies, Matthew has an intimate, expert understanding of production practices that take place to bring food to our dining table.

On Eating Meat is a confronting read. Evans calls for less radicalisation, greater understanding, and for ethical omnivores to stand up for the welfare of animals and farmers alike.

At Byron Writers Festival, Matthew Evans will feature in the main festival program on Saturday 3 August, and the Living Consciously panel with Tim Flannery and Sophie Cunningham on Sunday 4 August. Evans will also discuss How to be an Ethical Carnivore at the Beach Hotel on Thursday 1 August (free Satellite Event, booking essential).

For event details and tickets head to byronwritersfestival.com/tickets.

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Welcome to Byron Writers Festival 2019! 

Now more than ever our world needs writers, environmentalists, poets, commentators, politicians, and artists who together can shape stories of hope, courage, and change. At Byron Writers Festival 2019 we proudly bring more than 140 writers together to create a program brimming with diverse voices.


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  1. “Ethical carnivore” is an oxymoron. The only reason people eat other animals is because they like the taste and have the power to do so. Industrialised slaughter depends on constantly objectifying living, suffering animals and turning them into commodities in the cheapest, most efficient way possible. Disappearing from the grid and starting a “real food” farm will make no difference to the rush to produce cheap meat in the quickest way possible, including tight confinement, debeaking, dehorning, castration without painkillers, and slaughter at a fraction of the animal’s potential life.

    As Tolstoy said “A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.”

  2. Can there be ethical carnivores? Absolutely NOT! An animal wants to live–not be carted off to abattoirs where it can hear animals screaming, see them shaking with fear, smell the blood, and witness all the diabolical things done to them before they too are slaughtered with knives or bludgeoned to death. I don’t believe his sincerity. He’s always pushing meat!

  3. I think that anything you couldn’t do to a human is probably not ethical. So ask yourself whether there is any ethical way to kill a person for consumption and I think you have the answer.


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