320 pages, 15 b/w illustrations
Louise Gray's first kill is a disaster. She injures a rabbit and thinks it has died in agony. But the experience teaches her a lesson and, when she subsequently finds the extraordinary 'rabbit with a white blaze', she vows to do its death justice and continue her quest to find out what it really means to kill and eat animals.
Inspired by the hand-wringing at middle class dinner parties, where everyone claims to care about animal welfare, Louise Gray sets out to find exactly where our meat comes from. The Ethical Carnivore takes the reader on the entire journey from field to fork, including the moment of death. At times shocking and always enlightening, the story promises to make us fully appreciate not only the farmers and fishermen behind our meals, but most of all the animals themselves.
Starting small, Louise shoots and traps game such as pigeon and squirrels, and learns how to skin and cook them in the traditional way. Louise infiltrates elite shoots and considers whether killing game birds can ever be justified. She bravely visits halal and non-halal slaughterhouses and finds out how animals are killed and processed, and the effect it has on the men and women who do it on our behalf.
The biggest animal Louise kills is a stag, in a chapter about blood lust, the question of masculinity and whether we are really meant to hunt and kill. At the end of the year, Louise goes wild fowling on the Isle of Lewis to shoot a goose for Christmas and reflects on how she has become more connected to nature and as a result a more compassionate person.
Confronting current anxiety about the modern food system, Louise Gray's frank and funny writing encourages us all to reconnect with the countryside and take responsibility for the animals on our plates.
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Louise Gray is former Environment Correspondent on The Daily Telegraph. Since 2014 she has been freelance, writing for the BBC, Scottish Field, Sunday Times, the Guardian, Country Life and the Spectator, among others. She specialises in writing about the countryside and climate change.