Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, Part 2: Lamb

I've just watched the second episode of Kill It, Cook It, Eat It. If anything it was more intense than the first. I just couldn't watch it live, just in case I needed to fast-forward some spots, so I recorded it on my DVR and watched it a bit later. As it happens I didn't fast forward anything, though I was very tempted to at times. I made myself sit still and watch.

Some corrections: I stated previously that the show took place at a specially constructed abatoir, but it's actually at a real working abattoir, with a specially constructed observation area plus dining room and restaurant, where the members of the public eat some of the meat they've just seen slaughtered. Amongst the members of the public in tonight's show were some food and farming professionals, such as chefs, farmers and at least one food writer I recognized, Sophie Grigson. (I wonder if Clarissa Dickson-Wright will show up for one of these.)

Watching lambs being killed was, as I anticipated, tougher than seeing large cows being slaughtered. What made it even tougher for me is that while the cows are shot in the head with a pistol [correction: they are actually shot with an electric stun gun, which wasn't explained until the final episode], the lambs are stunned with an electrical device to merely knock them out before they are hung up and their throats cut to bleed them. Grisly details aside though, the speed and skill of the slaughterhouse workers is something to behold. In a matter of minutes they turn a living woolly lamb into - well, a carcass that looks like food, with minimal mess or waste. This is truly a skilled yet thankless profession. One rather quaint touch was taking the thin net-like layer of fat around the intestines, and putting it around the hindquarters of the lamb carcass. It made the lamb look like it had on lacy pantaloons. I don't know if that's a particuarly British practice. The expert who was commentating said that the slaughter man did it to make the carcass look nice, so it doesn't seem to have any practical purpose.

This particular abattoir obviously has very high standards, and the lambs they were slaughtering, while not organic, looked pretty happy on the farm they were reared on. So we were witnessing the higher end of the meat market here. It makes me shudder to think of how cheaper meat may be produced and butchered, and makes me resolve all the more to pay extra for meat that has been reared and handled responsibly whenever possible.

Watching the very different reactions from the people there, who had the much more intense experience of seeing the slaughtering in person, was interesting too. Some were quite upset, most seemed shaken but quite calm; a few seemed totally unphased by it all. Only a couple of people seemed to be unable to eat any of the meat served to them, including at least one die-hard vegetarian.

They also touched on the subject of offal, including the eating of sheep testicles. Ah...they actually looked rather good. (!) On a serious note, I've always thought that if you're going to eat meat, being dainty about it and only eating the 'pretty' parts and turning your nose up at offal is waste, not to mention hypocritical. So I'm glad they did talk about offal. I hope they do the same with the pigs tomorrow.

So, tomorrow they will be doing the same to pigs. After the recent jocularity surrounding Pig Day, this may be the toughest one to watch.

I know some people from the Beeb do read this blog sometimes :) - please, make this series available online so the whole world has the opportunity to see this. I really think it's worthwhile and will add considerably to the 'where does our food come from' debate.

[Comments are now closed. Please take your anti-animal husbandry outrage elsewhere.]

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I think I'm more shocked about the fact that this is a daily show as opposed to the animal slaughtering part. I agree that people need to see where their food comes from, as horrific as it may be. I'm definitely guilty of not eating offals though; whenever I refuse some (or even take the white meat before the dark meat when eating chicken) my mom laughs and calls me a "white girl." (I'm Chinese.)

The BBC schedules programming in many different ways....I guess they judged that this show should be shown on consecutive nights, rather than once weekly. It certainly does increase the impact.

I don't like all offal (I just can't get to like tripe, for instance) but I do like liver and kidneys and things...not sure where that came from though, because except for sunagimo (chicken kidneys) my mother rarely cooked offal... (I also prefer dark meat to white...:P)

ahh i wish there were pictures, but i suppose they're under copyright or something... well-written article; i'm all for animal rights although i do eat meat all the time and wear leather ~ i just wish and hope our food is killed *humanely* ~ the stun gun's a good idea ~ i just don't want the lambs (or pigs or cows n so on) to suffer ~ i mean it's *bad* enough we're eating them right ^_^

is it true the lambs *cry* before they're killed (you can see tears in their eyes) but they don't make a sound? truth is that's what i really wanted to know ^_^; poor things...

It's been a while since I saw the program and posted this, but I don't think the sheep being slaughtered were crying.

No matter how you dress up the process in a well written article, killing animals that have had such a short life is cruel inhumane and brutal. Animals in the wild have a much better chance of escaping hunters than domestic lambs who are brutally restrained and murdered. I cannot fathom anyone choosing this horrendous vocation.