Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall thinks it’s time we all went veggie (River Cottage Veg; Channel 4, Sunday).
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall thinks it’s time we all went veggie (River Cottage Veg; Channel 4, Sunday). Coming from a man whose favourite dish is human placenta marinaded in fruit-bat extract, who slaughters his own pigs with a pocket knife and dances naked in their gore as he turns them into 2,058 varieties of artisanal black pudding, and who recently confessed he wouldn’t mind eating the odd puppy if push came to shove, I suppose this is something we should take quite seriously.
Personally, I feel betrayed. As betrayed as I felt all those years ago when my most heavy-duty smoking friend Ewen gave up fags, which was so unfair because I’d been relying on him to die of lung cancer, not me. ‘Et tu, Hugh?’ it made me think. Because I like my meat, an awful lot. Not only does it taste good but it’s also the thing that has made us great. If it hadn’t been for meat, we would probably never have discovered fire. And it was that fire/meat combo which gave us the brainpower to become the dominant species we are today. Otherwise just imagine what might have happened: maybe we’d now be governed by sheep or lemmings or other similarly brain-dead herbivores. Imagine!
Anyway, Hugh’s vegetarian adventure started off quite poorly, I thought. He has many fine qualities, does Hugh, but his tendency to pontificate in that mannered, up-and-down trademark TV voice of his is not one of them. Pontification is not in and of itself a bad thing: I do it all the time. But for it not to be off-putting, there needs to be at least a hint of a suspicion that the pontificator is slyly, engagingly aware of his own fallibility and absurdity. Success has killed that in Hugh, as of course it does in everyone.
You think he’s going to eat it. But then he changes his mind and gives it to his gardeners instead. If he’s going to go veggie, he should do so in a positive frame of mind rather than dwelling miserably on what he’s about to lose, he declares. But though I can see that trope working, just about, in print, on film it looked stagey, portentous and a bit pompous. . . .
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