Dan Murphy: How Not To Eat Meat

Anti-vegan fined for stunt in London. ( Central News )

Here’s a case study demonstrating everything one shouldn’t do to promote the nutritional value and the culinary enjoyment of eating meat. Read it and weep (as one little kid actually did).

At first glance, the headline on this news item reads like any other click-bait story: “Two British protestors were hauled into court in the UK and fined for causing some kids to start crying.”

But let’s back up just a bit.

First of all, this is a true story, not one of those supermarket tabloid fan fiction fantasies about alien babies and “real-life” wolf boys. The incident in question took place across The Pond in London, and the defendants, Deonisy Khlenikov, 22, and Gatis Lagzdins, 29, were arrested, convicted and assessed fines of £200 and £400 pounds, respectively — about $250 and $500 — according to the Washington Examiner.

But let’s go to the primary source, London’s The Independent newspaper website for the blow-by-blow, and see if you agree that this tale is j-u-u-u-st a bit out of the ordinary:

“Two men were filmed biting into the squirrels at the food stand on Rupert Street on 30 March this year,” the news report stated. “The men were reportedly asked to stop eating the animals by the parent of a distressed child, but continued eating the raw rodents.

“In [a video the defendants later posted], Lagzdins can be seen tearing open a bedraggled-looking dead squirrel with his bare hands before eating some of the innards. Khlebnikov then attempts to tear into a second dead squirrel’s fur directly with his teeth, which isn’t successful, and he then rips the carcass open with his hands, declaring to a passerby, “It smells good”, who responds: “No, it doesn’t smell good. Surely not!”

In addition to that delightful scenario, the video clip that accompanied the story showed Lagzdins wearing what appeared to be a de-feathered chicken carcass on a string around his neck.

According to The Independent, Natalie Clines, a prosecutor in London’s Magistrate’s Court, said that the men “claimed they were against veganism” and were merely “raising awareness about the dangers of not eating meat” when they publicly tore into — or failed to do so, as the case may be — a pair of dead squirrels.

Clines said she was able to demonstrate that the pair had “intended to cause distress to the public” and that their “premeditated actions caused significant distress” to the public, especially the aforementioned crying child.

Raw is never right

To be fair, causing a little kid to start crying isn’t by itself cause for criminal prosecution. Heck, in one of the iconic scenes in the classic “A Christmas Story” movie, Santa himself turns a five-year-old into a sobbing mess of tears.

The real problem is twofold.

First of all, promoting the consumption of animal foods is a fine and noble cause with which to engage. But one does not advance that cause by wolfing down raw meat OF ANY SPECIES in public, much less gnawing on the carcass of a dead squirrel!

(And by the way, unless you’re spending your time roaming some public park with a shotgun, there’s only one way to acquire a dead squirrel: roadkill!)

Second, and I’ll preface this observation by acknowledging that activists of any social or political stripe never heed this advice, getting in people’s faces, whether promoting or condemning meat-eating, never, ever works.

If you identify as a proud veganista, demanding that the world go veggie only provides haters with clear cause to reject that proposal.

And if you’re two brain-dead Londoners (allegedly) intent on convincing the British public to continue and/or resume eating meat, biting into raw squirrels is absolutely, positively guaranteed to turn people off to whatever benefits you might have in mind by advocating animal foods as a staple of one’s diet.

I’m not sure that getting slapped with some substantial fines triggered any “enlightenment” for Messers. Khlenikov and Lagzdins, but I do know one thing.

They made damn sure that plenty of people who read about their ridiculous stunt, or worse, watched the stomach-turning video they posted, are now officially and likely permanently skeptical of all the rest of us who embrace sound, sensible arguments in favor of including nutritious animal foods in one’s daily diet.

Thanks a lot, idiots.

The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, an award-winning journalist and commentator.

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