In Depth

Eating dogs is the same as eating pigs, says TV chef

Former vegetarian Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says there's nothing wrong with eating pets

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

AFTER spending almost half a year as a vegetarian, chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has probably burned his bridges with the non meat-eating fraternity after telling the Radio Times that he had no moral objection to farming puppies for meat.

The author of the popular River Cottage cookbooks made the comments as he promoted his latest flesh-free recipe book and TV show, which begins at the weekend.

When asked if he would consider eating a domestic pet he admitted that he would eat dog or cat if he was "on the point of starvation". He added: "In principle, but not in practice, I have no objection to a high-welfare organic puppy farm.

"You can't object, unless you also object to the farming of pigs. It's an artificial construct of our society, a cultural decision, to make pets out of dogs and meat out of pigs. Both animals could be used the other way round, although pigs probably do make better meat than dogs and dogs better pets than pigs, but it's not a foregone conclusion."

Fearnley-Whittingstall has eaten a wide range of unusual foods down the years, including human placenta, squirrel, crow, giraffe and fruit bat. However, he is also well known for his concern about food and farming standards. He led a crusade against supermarkets selling intensively reared chicken and a campaign in favour of sustainable fishing practises that helped change EU legislation.

Predictably, condemnation for the idea of a puppy farm, no matter how organic, was swift. A Dogs Trust spokesman told The Daily Mail that the idea was "wholly unacceptable" while the RSPCA said his suggestion was "crude". The charity said: "Our concerns are with the farming of any animal, dog or otherwise, and his comments may seem sensible but are actually quite controversial – especially when dogs are our most popular and loved pet."

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