Wild food (20) – Minke Whale by Ian Carter

Minke Whale Photo: Tim Melling

I’ve had this argument a few times and I always seem to end up on the losing side. In starting to write this I have a sense, already, that I’m not going to influence many people. It’s such a contentious subject that the merits of logic and common sense seem not to apply in the usual way but, in the spirit of persistence (or hole digging), I’ll give it another go. To be clear at the outset, this is intended as a discussion of the issues around the rearing of domestic livestock rather than a suggestion that we should revive the UK’s whaling industry.

There are three main arguments used by those opposed to whaling. The first is that we are dealing with such highly intelligent animals that, as with the great apes, it is simply wrong for us to kill them. I can see how that argument might apply to the highly social dolphins and the toothed whales but I’m not sure it’s very convincing for baleen whales like the Minke. Assessing intelligence is notoriously difficult and, to some extent, subjective. Baleen whales do score highly but then so do pigs and other species that are killed and consumed with impunity. In some ways baleen whales mirror the behaviour of the terrestrial grazing animals that we are so fond of eating in the way they endlessly sift and strain tiny food items from the ocean.

Then there is the question of the level of cruelty involved in killing whales. It’s difficult to get to the truth of the matter and doubtless there is exaggeration on both sides of the argument. Clearly some suffering is involved so it’s a valid concern. But I’d be amazed if the overall levels of suffering per pound of flesh were not very much higher for the majority of domestic livestock, taking into account all elements of the production process, through to eventual slaughter.

Species that breed as slowly as whales are highly vulnerable to over-exploitation. It may be that for the largest species such as Fin and Blue Whales any level of exploitation would risk harming populations; killing them is not dissimilar to mining. But, for the smaller species, there will be a level at which they could be exploited sustainably even if that is a very low level. Of course, there are also very serious sustainability issues with the production of domestic livestock, including the destruction of vast areas of pristine wildlife habitat to accommodate them, or the crops required to feed them. Whilst there is at least room for rational debate about the sustainability of low-level whaling, the same does not apply to most livestock farming systems.

All of these points draw comparisons between whales and domestic livestock. If you are vegetarian they will be largely irrelevant. But based on concerns about animal welfare, sustainability and wildlife conservation I’m not sure it’s tenable to visit Burger King on a regular basis whilst maintaining a logically-based opposition to all forms of whaling. I would suggest that hamburgers seem more acceptable than whaleburgers only because our supermarkets and restaurants are full of them. We have got used to eating them and are well-practiced at turning a blind eye to the environmental consequences inherent in their production. As with many difficult issues, the human brain appears to automatically favour long-established practices over logical arguments.

There are some parallels with the contentious debate about kangaroo meat. This is available almost exclusively as a by-product of pest control in Australia. Some in that part of the world see it as one of the few sources of sustainable meat and there is even a new word, ‘kangatarian’ (I kid you not), for people who have given up meat for ethical reasons but make an exception for kangaroo. In contrast, Australian animal welfare groups object to it because it involves the culling of wild animal populations and is perceived as cruel. We end up with the bizarre situation where kangaroo is simultaneously regarded as the only ethical meat, and one worthy of vigorous (and sometimes successful) campaigns to stop it from being sold. In Britain we also have the option of meat from culled deer, with the added bonus to consumers that they are doing their bit to help limit the impacts of non-native species. Yet, there are many people who are very happy with their pork chops but would think twice before buying venison.

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35 Replies to “Wild food (20) – Minke Whale by Ian Carter”

  1. I am not exactly sure what the point of this argument is. It seems on the face of it to be trying to justify the unjustifiable slaughter of Minke Whales. All the arguments it uses are specious. A specious argument is a superficially plausible argument, which on closer examination is fallacious. The argument put forward repeatedly uses well known logical fallacies i.e. the tu quoque logical fallacy i.e. an appeal to hypocrisy, or whataboutism. In other words it goes off on a tangent about livestock to fallaciously accuse critics of this type of argument of hypocrisy.

    All this is fallacious argument because except for those still living by subsistence hunting like the Inuit, Whales are hunted by very wealthy nations which have absolutely no need to engage in this industrial slaughter of wild mammals. The analogy between livestock and wild Whales is utterly false. This by the way is not a justification of farming livestock because I personally argue on a number of positions it should be curtailed and serious cutback. No, this is not an appropriate example because Minke Whales are wild, livestock is not. This is why it is not an appropriate analogy. If cows were pursued around fields with 4x4s and blasted with explosive harpoons there would be a bit of an outcry to say the least.

    Except for subsistence hunting there is no justification for this. When the developed nations that hunt Minke Whales first started this hunting, which is quite recent in historical terms and quite different to the hunting by the Inuit etc, Whales were mistakenly thought to just be big fish. We’ve advanced since those days.

    This leads on to the other bluster and waffle about intelligence. Almost all mammals are intelligent enough to be distressed about being pursued etc. The idea that somehow killing toothed Whales is wrong, but baleen Whales okay is a very strange argument.

    This blog is supposed to be about conservation “standing up for nature”. Quite how a convoluted unsupported, and unclear justification about the barbaric commercial hunting of baleen Whales fits into that remit I have no idea. Yes I acknowledge it does not overtly justify the commercial whaling of Minke Whales, but most importantly it does not clearly exclude the commercial hunting of Whales, and it is underhand about exactly what context it is trying to justify.

    It really is a huge jump to go from mushrooms etc, to needlessly killing large wild mammals noted for their mental capacitity and social life. Given the weakness of the author’s argument’s, it is not surprising they often end up on the losing side of the argument, and maybe they should learn from experience. Given the nature of the “standing up for nature” title of the blog, I’m not exactly sure of what is the purpose of this blog entry. Is it click bait i.e. controversialism for the sake of it?

    1. Yup, I guess that’s the reaction he wanted. 🙂
      Brave though isn’t he!!
      Having said that, Kangaroo is very nice, as is venison…..but only if it’s culled due to mans stupidity in exterminating all predators.

      God he’s brave.

      1. Personally I’d have thought he was a lot braver if he’d been far more overt in his argument, and what he’s actually saying.

        The article claims:

        “To be clear at the outset, this is intended as a discussion of the issues around the rearing of domestic livestock rather than a suggestion that we should revive the UK’s whaling industry” [But Minke Whales are actually hunted by by both Iceland and Norway, which are countries close to the UK – so hunting Minke Whales is not a hypothetical argument, but something which is actually happening in our geographical area]

        So why go into such depth about Minke Whales, and into so little detail about livestock farming? The article doesn’t even address most of the major arguments against livestock farming, but goes into the difference between toothed Whales and baleen Whales. There are strong arguments against livestock farming as a measure to address the causes of climate change. It has huge impacts on our native habitat and biodiversity. All of which are highly relevant to “standing up for nature”. The prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming has massive consequences for us, as it may result in most antibiotics becoming ineffective medically in a human context. Then there are all sorts of issues about the way livestock are farmed and slaughtered. Yet none of that is addressed in the article although it is more relevant. This is what makes me think it is actually more about justifying the hunting of Minke Whales than livestock farming. Maybe it is just a very poor argument.

        Not least of all it is in the context of a series about “wild food”. Livestock are not wild food, but Minke Whales are. This is why I believe it is actually more of a convoluted argument to say those who condemn hunting Minke Whales are being hypocritical if they eat meat from farmed livestock. As I say it doesn’t even acknowledge most of the standard arguments against livestock farming.

        1. SteB – if you are a vegetarian then fair enough. Assuming you are not, the point I’m trying to make is that the damage done by what you do (eating livestock) is worse than the damage that would be done by the activity you are so vehemently opposed to (killing whales). Again, if you don’t agree, please say why. I’m arguing that we should eat less livestock not that we should eat more whales. And if it’s a ‘clickbait ‘ type argument then my justification is to try to get people to think more closely about the issues.

          1. As I explained in my previous comment Ian, this line of argument is logically fallacious. Look it up, the tu quoque logical fallacy. What is more your analogy is logically fallacious because Minke Whales are wild animals and livestock are not. In fact in no place have I really cited morality, which means you are using another logical fallacy, the straw man logical fallacy i.e. arguing against a misrepresentation of what I actually said.

            I really think you need to develop some understanding of why you keep losing the argument. If you use logically fallacious arguments, you will lose the argument.

            You claim I am vehemently opposed to eating Whales despite me citing subsistence hunting of Whales by the Inuit etc, which I clearly do not condemn. Again you are misrepresenting what I say, and arguing against this misrepresentation of what I said, as if this was actually my argument. The straw man logical fallacy, again.

            My point, very clearly expressed, was that European origin cultures developed whaling in fairly recent historical times when it was mistakenly thought that Whales were just big fish. I clearly explained that there is no need for Iceland, Norway etc, to engage in whaling as they are amongst the wealthiest nations per capita on Earth, whaling is a very tiny part of their economy etc. You do not address my actual points and arguments. Instead you argue against cliched straw man arguments, you yourself have set up to argue against.

            “Again, if you don’t agree, please say why. I’m arguing that we should eat less livestock not that we should eat more whales”

            I don’t even understand your point at all. I very quickly listed a whole load of reasons why it isn’t a good idea to eat livestock.

            You see what I don’t understand is this. This is supposed to be part of a series about “wild food”. I don’t understand how this fits in with this remit, unless you using some sort of convoluted argument for hunting Minke Whales. I can cite many arguments I have placed online about why livestock farming is not generally a good idea.

            What you will notice is that I rarely deal in absolutes i.e. to say this is simplistically wrong, and it should never happen. In other words, if you are going to hunt and eat Whales, you better have a pretty good justification i.e. being an Arctic subsistence hunter. In other words living in a place where hunting is the only way to survive, and you have to hunt what is there. Personally I am not in favour of livestock farming, but I don’t say to people you should never eat meat anywhere, and it should never happen. I just say it would be a good idea if there was a lot less of it.

            You just don’t seem to have noticed that I listed a whole array of reasons for not eating livestock. These were mainly practical reasons, not moral arguments. Try to understand what people’s arguments actually are, and don’t just argue against your simplistic fixed ideas of what you mistakenly think people are are arguing, and why.

    2. Would be interested to know what is “subsistence hunting” in this context? Does hunting of whales by those on the Faroe Islands count as subsistence hunting? If not, why not?

      1. No they do it for “traditiona”l reasons, they no longer need it to supply the meat in their diet. Indeed as I understand it much of the meat remains uneaten.

      2. “Subsistence hunting” is a widely used term, defined in law in some countries. If you really want to know what a well often legally defined term actually means I suggest you look it up. In brief it means people that entirely live i.e. subsist by hunting. It also generally refers to cultures who never developed agriculture.

        Faeroese Whale hunting is not subsistence hunting for a number of reasons. Firstly the Viking culture was never a hunting and gathering culture. They were primarily farmers, and the Faeroese farm sheep etc. What is more whaling was not part of their culture when they first settled the Faeroe Islands. It was something they developed later. Like lots of European cultures they developed whaling at a time when they mistakenly thought whales were just big fish. The first record of a drive hunt for Pilot Whales in the Faeroes was 500 years after the islands were first settled.

        Faeroese people are not going to starve if they stop hunting whales. First they survived for nearly half their occupation of the Faeroe Islands without whaling. Secondly they farm, and thirdly they are quite well off and get considerable economic aid from Denmark.

    3. SteB, Ian’s blog is about getting us to think. It seems to do this with competence. But it’s too early in the morning to think especially without that mug of tea — milk, no sugar. Sorry, that should be, ‘with a dash of milk with no thoughts about cow on concrete without calf….’

      1. I am trying to address the arguments. The problem is that the arguments Ian used were very poor arguments based on well known logical fallacies.

  2. Like the first commenter, I too find this post baffling. Not just in intention, but in the sheer incompetence of argument. It’s perfectly reasonable to argue that many of us underestimate the cruelty and ecological impact of slaughtering domesticated, farmed livestock. But to do so by way of suggesting that we extend the slaughter to wild populations of highly intelligent and social species, is retrogressive in the extreme. Jonathon Swift did the same kind of thing in his “A Modest Proposal”, of course, but at least in his case, the proposal was satirical.

    To find this on a blog which otherwise consistently champions respect and protection for wild species and ecosystems is disturbing and perverse.

  3. I hoped that the point of this post was clear but perhaps not clear enough. I did say that this is NOT about suggesting we should re-start the whaling industry. The whole point of the post was to get people thinking more clearly about the damaging impacts of consuming domestic livestock on a regular basis. I think the two comments above prove my point that we are supremely good at adapting to the status quo rather than thinking logically. SteB and Michael, read the first paragraph again, and if the arguments are baffling and incompetent then please deal with them and say why you think that is the case.

    1. First paragraph notwithstanding, the point of the post (“intended as a discussion of the issues around the rearing of domestic livestock”) is very much obscured by its publication in a series entitled “wild food” in which the reader is accustomed to find useful practical information about foraging.

      If you want to “get people thinking more clearly about the damaging impacts of consuming domestic livestock on a regular basis” it would be considerably more effective to discuss this explicitly with examples and hard data. Not least because doing so would appeal to the rational sensibilities of the reader, as opposed to alienating people with cheap shots about Burger King and illogical thinking.

      1. Louise – cheap shots perhaps but no-one so far has dealt with the arguments. There is no shortage of hard data to confirm that livestock rearing is damagingly unsustainable and it’s easily available to anyone interested. I hoped that this was a slightly different way to get people thinking about these issues, nothing more than that.

    2. I accept that your intention is not to argue for the resumption of UK whaling. The trouble is that you adopt a form of argument that requires you deliberately to minimise the differences between whaling and the killing of domestic livestock. This is not only factually/scientifically misleading, but it makes your position indistinguishable from those of the promoters of commercial whaling.

      Worse still, as SteB says, you have done this at the expense of advancing more detailed and persuasive evidence against livestock farming.

      As far as the specifics go, information from pretty much any up to date source on cetacean biology will make the fallacies you repeat evident . Off the top of my head:

      – I know of no evidence that balleen whales are less intelligent, experience less pain or social disruption than toothed whales (though I accept that you may know of research I’m unaware of). Likewise, to equate them with domestic grazers like cows in these regards simply because they sift plankton is a new suggestion to me (again, if you have any references, I stand corrected)

      – your statement that “it is difficult to get to the truth of the matter” in regards to the cruelty of whale killing appears to be a deliberate obfuscation. Do you have any doubt that commercial whaling results in extreme suffering to both the whales that are killed, but also to their family/social group (not to mention the disruption to group functioning)? I agree with you that the commercial slaughter of domestic livestock is also cruel – but here we are dealing with a much more diverse set of practices and animals, with a correspondingly more variable level of suffering. Obscuring these differences and calling it a wash is not a serious position.

      – in your third point, you have also elided two distinctly different kinds of “sustainability”. In the case of whales, sustainability relates both to the viability of the species as well as ecosystem health. Humans in capitalist societies have demonstrated our inability to manage wild mammal populations many times over. For domestic livestock, the sustainability issues are of a different order (and of the kind you rightly highlight). We are equally incompetent in a broad sense, but extinction of the food species – or clade – is not such a problem

      And yes, I am a vegetarian. Domestic livestock consumption is a disaster for them and for the planet. But that doesn’t make killing whales for food any less heinous.

      1. Michael – Many thanks for this. I don’t think we disagree on much, if anything, really. I didn’t do an exhaustive research job before writing this but the little I did shows that there are many unknowns and disputed positions, hence all the caveats. Is a Minke Whale more intelligent and social than a pig or a kangaroo? I have no idea and I’m not sure anyone really knows the answer. I think your last two lines sum up exactly what I was trying to get at and I agree completely with them. Both of the things you mention are disastrous. One is happening all around us on a vast scale and apart from a tiny proportion of the population (including yourself) the issues tend to get ignored or conveniently pushed to one side. The other generates the strength of feeling shown in some of the comments here. By writing the piece in the way I did I was trying to highlight that very point and ask whether this was at all logical.

    3. Look Ian. Your very poorly made point was that you are not suggesting “we should revive the UK’s whaling industry”. What you completely fail to acknowledge, let alone address, is that several of Britain’s neighbours e.g. Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway, do hunt whales, and often use very aggressive, but weak argument to justify this. In other words whaling is not some hypothetical situation in our part of the world, but it is actively happening, and the proponents of it use almost identical arguments and justifications to the ones you use. I know this very well because I have repeatedly taken on these advocates of whaling online, and therefore am very familiar with the arguments they use.

      As I said, there are plenty of very good arguments against livestock farming. Please go and read say George Monbiot’s articles and essays on this. Yet this is the strange thing. You never even mentioned most of the very well known, and very strong arguments against livestock farming, which don’t involve Whales, and which can be made without even citing moral considerations i.e. they are purely practical arguments based on concerns about climate change, destruction of natural habitat, sustainability, human health etc. What is more most of these reasons are far more suited to the remit of this blog.

  4. Firstly let me say that I would not could not eat or condone the killing of whales for meat it is a step to far. I find Ians’ argument interesting worthy of consideration but in the end I will not eat whale. I would be happy to eat Kangaroo, I do on occasion eat venison indeed I long time ago now I once shot my own, I still eat home killed lead free pheasant, on my partners small holding they are bloody pests stealing the chicken food in droves! I would also be happy to eat Rabbit and wood pigeon if they were killed with non toxic shot they are both largely killed as pests. Wild meat is generally healthier and more flavoursome. The real problem is that we cannot all do it there are simply far too many of us humans to be sustained by wild meat.
    Ian you are a brave man but whale meat is just a step too far my friend.

    1. Paul – I agree with everything you say and I’ve started buying kangaroo burgers instead of hamburgers. Whales are a step too far for me too. I’ve tried stray pheasants but I struggle to get past all the processing required to turn them into food – illogical I know but not sure how to get around it!

      1. Skin them and just take the breasts and legs off. At least that is what I usually do, very rarely do I have a whole roast pheasant.

      2. You don’t need to pluck a pheasant Ian. Just make an incision near the crop, get your fingers in and rip the skin right down to the tail end. You can then carve off 2 lovely breast pieces and cook simply as required. Ignore the sinewy legs.

        1. Thanks both for the advice. It’s words like ‘skin’, ‘incision’ and ‘rip’ that put me off but I’ll definitely give it a go next time the opportunity arises – which around here wont require too long a wait.

  5. Well done Ian you have certainly provoked some good thought amongst readers. I agree that the topic is relevant here and as an extension to the Wild Food theme.

    When I consider my difficulties in assessing intelligence in fellow humans I am certainly averse to making judgements as to which animals might be spared on the basis of their supposed intelligence. I feel a respect for life and hence the Wood Pigeon on the same terms as the Minke Whale, indeed it is what stops me standing on the spider that crosses the carpet (mind, I don’t eat spiders)

    In terms of sustainable harvesting I agree with the principle as demonstrated by many of the indigenous people who have gone before us but I also find us incapable as a species of doing so today.

    Accommodating your blog within my thoughts and practices, I appreciate the quality of wild meat over farmed livestock, it would be folly not to use venison derived from controlling a deer population where we lack the natural predator control. My only pheasant meal of recent years was one which flew into power cables and dropped dead at my feet – and that was while my wife was away (she wouldn’t condone) and I was happy to make use of the breast meat while returning the remains of the carcass to the food chain. I only eat beef once or twice a year, a bar meal when the steak and ale pie appeals. Likewise with lamb but I have eaten home produce Shetland lamb and chicken on the basis that if I eat meat I should be prepared to take responsibility for the killing and preparation rather than expect others to do this for me. So while I can’t see myself eating whale in the future, and neither are there enough wild foods for all of us to get out harevesting, I agree that you raise a worthy topic which should get many of us revisiting our principles and practice at this feasting time of year and hopefully resolving to make some changes for the new year.

    Season’s greetings to you, Mark, and to all who contribute to this blog.

  6. Minke Whales are fed on by Killer Whales. The last Killer Whale to be washed up dead on the Outer Hebrides was so toxic that it needed burying to save any one else in the food chain. How long have we got on this planet?

  7. It’s noticable that those who disagree with Ian attack the logic of his arguments, calling them “specious”. The problem is that attitudes in this come loaded with tradition and culture. By and large, when those two come into the room, logic leaves by the nearest exit. Food for thought – and we need a lot of that.

  8. Whooosh

    Did you hear that, Ian?

    That’s the sound of your arguments going over the heads of many of Mark’s readers.


  9. Ian,what I need as a non intellectual is your proof of livestock farming being cruel,non sustainable and anything else you see wrong.
    Most obviously the slaughter part is cruel and I realise it could be morally wrong to keep animals for our benefit but you seem to go much further than that so lets hear what you see as wrong and proof.
    Why don’t you do an article on pets such as cats and dogs.
    Presumably those stray pheasants you speak of were not best pleased to be killed.

  10. Just for the record, it’s not only Wales that are hunted in Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, but Puffins and other seabirds. That’s right. Nor is it just traditional methods such as nets. They even shoot Puffins in Iceland. Just Google if you don’t believe me, go online and you can book yourself some Puffin shooting in Iceland.

    Why didn’t the article use the same arguments, but use Puffins, instead of Minke Whales as an analogy? After all they aren’t mammals, and don’t have huge brains. I can think of a rather obvious reason why, and that is that it would have revolted birders this blog is mainly read by.

  11. Ian did a blog on eating puffins: no 6 wild food — 33likes and 5 dislikes.
    It has strong parallels with the above arguments

    1. My apologies over Puffins. I was going to say I must have missed that one, but re-reading, yes I do indeed remember it now, I had just forgotten about it.

      However, my point about Puffins, was more about the context in which the arguments were used here. The central theme of the argument presented here is that those who criticise whaling are hypocrites if they eat meat. It is as I say the tu quoque logical fallacy. This is a logical fallacy, because even if someone using an argument against whaling is being hypocritical, logically it does nothing to undermine the validity of their argument. Someone who is a hypocrite can still be right with their argument. Again, this is why it is a logical fallacy because you are not actually addressing their argument. You’re trying to get people not to listen to them by claiming they are a hypocrite. That is not a valid form of logical argument. It’s a form of the ad hominen logical fallacy where you play the person, and not the argument.

      It is also unnecessarily personal to start accusing people of hypocrisy. Ian demanded to know if I was a vegetarian. This is despite the fact that at no point was my argument based on my moral superiority, and nowhere did I justify livestock farming. I simply explained that livestock and livestock farming belong to a different logical type, than wild animals. To jump from that to insinuate I am justifying livestock farming was bizarre, given that I have a long history of arguing against livestock farming.

      What I am saying is that in online discussion it is really best to avoid addressing the person i.e. the ad hominen logical fallacy because it causes personal offence, and it is best to address the argument and not the person. I could jump up and down in outrage about being accused of being a hypocrite, especially considering that I have followed various vegetarian, and even vegan diets for much of my adult life. I didn’t bring that up because I never argue from a position of moral superiority or try to force my choices and values onto others. This is why I did not respond to that challenge. It was getting personal.

      Ian also accused me of being vehemently opposed to whaling, when I had highlighted subsistence hunting of whales, never condemned it and said it was different. Misrepresenting what other people say and accusing them of things like hypocrisy is a poor way of arguing, not least of all because it can understandably cause personal offence.

      This article/argument is actually quite different than the Puffin article. The Puffin article noted that Puffins were hunted in Iceland. Whereas this article carefully avoids acknowledging that Minke Whales are hunted in Iceland and elsewhere, and this hunting is justified using the form of arguments presented in the article. It cleverly tries to avoid this by saying “rather than a suggestion that we should revive the UK’s whaling industry”. It is not necessary to revive the UK whaling industry, because Minke Whales are being hunted now by Icelandic and Norwegian whalers who use the rustications presented in the article.

      It is the use of arguments used by whalers and their apologists, that I thought was so problematic.

      1. SteB – We are in danger of going around in circles with this and are, I think, at slightly cross purposes – which hopefully doesn’t contravene another of those latin-sounding fallacies I’ve been collecting. I really don’t think our views are very far apart. I was not using livestock issues to argue in favour of whaling. But I was highlighting what I think are logical flaws in the way many of us think about the two issues. No doubt these flaws are exploited by the Norwegian whalers you refer to. If they were challenged on what they do by, say, a UK NGO then if I was in their position I would bring up the issue of livestock imports in order to help argue my case. And if I was the NGO rep I would feel that I was on rather weak ground. The two issues are of course closely linked because the Norwegian whaler would (rightly I think) argue that the more whale that is eaten, the less livestock will be needed and that might help reduce the rate of loss of natural habitats and help with climate change. I’d find it hard to argue with that. I might try to resort to concerns about cruelty or population decline but, as I have argued, I’m not sure that would work very well either. In the end I might have to shake his hand and agree that he has a point, which I wouldn’t really want to have to do.

        Of course a slab of whale on the plate is very good, direct evidence that there is now one less live whale in the world (at least in the short term). With a slab of beef the link to all sorts of grievous impacts on the world is rather more tenuous and harder to pin down – it depends on a whole chain of events that will vary depending on the source and livestock system. Perhaps that’s what helps to get us off the hook when we pause to think about it. But it shouldn’t get us off the hook if we are really serious about these issues and if we want to continue to try to lay down the law as to how we think other countries should be behaving.

  12. No logic fallacious or otherwise will induce me to eat a whale. Not even if Waitrose offer it caught sustainably on a rod and line by a bloke in a wooden boat. I just don’t like the idea, and this is reason enough. I suspect that many other people feel the same. Emotion Trumps logic most of the time – this is probably why, according to some Portugese neurobiologist or other, didactic pedants cannot feel emotion or win arguments because they are brain-damaged. Or something.

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