Author(s): Louise Gray
We should all know exactly where our meat comes from. But what if you took this modern day maxim to its logical conclusion? What if you only ate animals you killed yourself? Fed up of friends claiming to care about the provenance of their food, Louise Gray decides to follow the argument to its logical extreme. Starting small, Louise shucks oysters and catches fish. Gradually she gets to know countrymen and women who teach her how to shoot pigeons and rabbits. As she begins to reconnect with nature and her own upbringing in the countryside, Louise starts to question modern attitudes to the meat we eat. How did we end up eating so much meat, with no idea how animals are raised and killed on our behalf? Louise begins to look into how our meat is processed, including the beef in burgers, cheap chicken, bacon and farmed fish. She researches halal slaughter and visits abattoirs to ask whether modern technology can make eating meat more humane. She goes on a pheasant shoot and onto a grouse moor and contemplates whether there is still a place for game shooting in modern Britain.
And she delves into alternative food culture in the UK, sourcing roadkill and cooking herself a lovely bit of squirrel stir-fry. The biggest animal Louise kills is a red deer stag, a moment she describes in a chapter about taking responsibility, growing up and her relationship with her own father. Towards the end of her challenge, Louise explores alternative sources of protein, including insects, in vitro meat and plant-based proteins. She reflects on the impact of the growing global demand for meat and argues that all of us eating less meat should be a key part of fighting climate change. Louise's writing about nature, food and the environment is liberally dashed with humour and she gets to the heart of modern anxieties about where our meat comes from, asking the most important question of all: is it possible to be an ethical carnivore?
By only eating animals she has killed herself for a year, Louise Gray explores our relationship with the animals we eat and how we might reconnect with the natural world through food.
A charming and eye-opening book the Guardian The author more than earns her stripes... It's impossible not to admire her. The Evening Standard This humane, adventurous and wonderfully illuminating exploration will entertain and challenge everyone, from carnivore to vegan. -- Patrick Barkham Vivid, visceral and honest. Gray observes without ever being detached, and that's a rare talent. -- Ella Risbridger Compellingly readable, wise and kind. There's plenty of serious reflection too, all the more arresting for Gray's lightness of touch. -- Charles Foster A thorough, engaging, sometimes shocking account of where our meat comes from. It is also, importantly, a book about caring. -- Malachy Tallack Caught by the River Sensitive and powerful. Prospect Well paced, well researched and politically even-handed. Country Life Louise Gray is a micromaster. The Scotsman The book has charm and style... The accounts of hunting trips with her father contain some vivid and quite moving nature writing. the Guardian She writes well and this is a book that all should read - but it isn't simply a duty, it's a gritty pleasure. -- Mark Avery Fascinating... Told in beautiful, descriptive prose that shows her love and knowledge of nature. Western Mail This is a must read for anyone who wants to know more about where the meat and fish they eat comes from ... and the environmental and social impact. The Press and Journal A sensible read for meat-eaters who have ever wondered what it's like to stand in the business end of an abattoir. i This brave project by Louise Gray is told in beautiful, descriptive prose that shows her love and knowledge of nature. Sunday Post A fascinating insight... The book is neither preachy nor lacking in laughs. Gray writes with humour and humanity. Sunday Herald This is a book that all should read - but it isn't simply a duty, it is a gritty pleasure...it is a thought--provoking and enjoyable read. But now and again, when a life is about to end, you'll feel the emotion of the author and it will make you look at dinner differently. -- Mark Avery
Louise Gray is a freelance writer based in Scotland. She trained with The Press Association and was a staff writer for The Scotsman. From 2008 to 2013 she was Environment Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. Louise specialises in writing about food, farming and climate change. In recent years she has written for The Sunday Times, Scottish Field, the Guardian and The Spectator, among others. She has also appeared on BBC television and radio. Louise is passionate about environmental issues, increasingly focusing on how individuals can make a difference through the choices they make, such as the food we eat. The Ethical Carnivore is her first book. @loubgray / louisebgray.com