Saturday 3 December 2016

George Monbiot serves up squirrel on Newsnight

Published 28/08/2015 | 10:49

Mr Monbiot spoke out against farmed meat
Mr Monbiot spoke out against farmed meat
Mr Monbiot spoke out against farmed meat
Mr Monbiot spoke out against farmed meat
Mr Monbiot spoke out against farmed meat
Mr Monbiot spoke out against farmed meat
Mr Monbiot spoke out against farmed meat

A dead squirrel which was butchered, cooked and devoured live on BBC Newsnight prompted a mixed reaction from squeamish viewers.

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Writer and environmentalist George Monbiot prepared the creature to highlight the benefits of roadkill, after he controversially admitted in his Guardian column to finding and cooking a squirrel.

The journalist cut through the tail bone of the "rather fat squirrel", bought from a farm shop, before taking an axe to the leg of another he had prepared earlier.

Newsnight presenter James O'Brien was served a fried portion of the meat, which had been marinated in lemon juice. He described it as "perfectly edible", but washed it down with a sip of red wine.

Mr Monbiot said he regarded all farm meat as "unethical", and criticised the poor welfare of animals, pollution caused by manure and huge amounts of land designated to farming animals, during the five-minute segment at the end of the show.

He argued the problem was not solved by going free range or organic, and said he would like people "to only eat this sort of meat".

"There are millions of rabbits, squirrels, pigeons, deer, killed every year and a lot of them are land-filled, and it doesn't have to be the case. And it's not very nice but meat production is not. But at least there is no further ethical problem here", he said.

Mr Monbiot said he would "take just about anything" when it came to roadkill, but wouldn't touch cats or dogs because their "owners would be upset".

"There are cultural barriers which even rather feral people like me feel they need to respect", he said.

Viewers took to twitter to express their surprise at the demonstration.

One commented: "Oh, it's squirrel week on #GBBO - no wait, it's #newsnight."

Another said: "Having difficulty working out whether I just dreamt it, or whether George Monbiot did just casually skin and eat a squirrel on #newsnight".

Ofcom said it had not received any complaints about the feature.

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