Cooking up controversy

Jamie Oliver’s latest TV show, Jamie’s Great Escape, has provoked complaints from Catholics, the Italian embassy, and animal rights groups.

The Independent reports that some viewers were upset by his behaviour at the Farfa monastery in Italy, where he bunked off morning prayers and phoned his wife during a silent meditation period. When he served the monks a meal he claimed “it don’t get much holier than that”; and when asked to say grace he said: “For what we are about to receive, may God be truly thankful”.

Animal rights groups were upset by last night’s episode, when Oliver slit the throat of a lamb. The Mirror even had the idea of asking Massah John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK for his opinion, and the smut campaigner leapt at the chance to have a pop at Channel 4:

Channel 4 should have paid attention to people’s sensitivities. The scheduling of this scene before the watershed was inappropriate.

The Daily Mail also thought it important get a quote:

The slaughter of animals on television is something that would be shocking for young children. It might be all right for a butcher or a chef to see on television but to others it would be upsetting. Channel 4 should really have been a bit more intelligent about this.

15 Responses to “Cooking up controversy”

  1. tom p says:

    Channel 4 should really have been a bit more intelligent about this.

    Massah Black (&white minstrel) Pot, meet Mr Black Kettle

  2. Andy A says:

    Channel 4 should have paid attention to people’s sensitivities. The scheduling of this scene before the watershed was inappropriate.

    Why is everyone so worried about what children see and not about the animal, which was not (I’m assuming, for I didn’t see it) prestunned? As for appropriateness, though, concerning animals, I believe children and adults alike should see what happens to animals before they appear in their clinical, sanitised clingfilm and other packaging on the supermarket shelves. Fewer of them might then take meat for granted and might spare a respectful moment of reflection for the animal that’s given its life for their enjoyment and sustenance.

    No, I’m not a veggie.

  3. Dan Factor says:

    Andy you do sound like a veggie, or at least the self righteous kind who wants to stick his beliefs down the throats of those who don’t subscribe to his way of life.
    What you are saying is excactly the kind of thing the loonie animal rights groups would say, that we should share some thought about the “poor” animal who was killed for our enjoyment.
    Personally I couldn’t care less. If I cared I wouldn’t eat meat.

  4. Dan Factor says:

    Oh on the subject of the actual show itself I saw that People for the ethical treatment of animals were pleased that Mr Oliver showed a sheep being slaughtered.
    They said it would make carnivours become veggies. Well this carnivour aint becoming a veggie anytime soon.

  5. G. Tingey says:

    We are NOT carnivores, nor are we Vegetarians – our teeth show that we have evolved to be Ominivores ..

    As an eater of cheese, beer, meat and veg – oink!

  6. Andrew Nixon says:

    If watching animals being killed turns you into a veggie, that must be why everyone at PETA is one. They put down around 85% of animals in their care.

  7. Andy Gilmour says:

    Coming from an extended family background in the farming industry (briefly worked for the Scottish Agric. Colleges as an information officer, too), I thought the sheep-slaughtering scene was tackled very well. (I’m a confirmed carnivore, btw). The issue of animal welfare IS an extremely importantant one (e.g. strong research links between insensitivity to animal cruelty & human cruelty), and while there was no apparent pre-stunning (C4 edit?), the method used SHOULD, if done correctly, not be any worse than a modern slaughterhouse. And Mr. Oliver did make the excellent point that a lot of people would believe it to be cruel, while not giving a **** (his word) about where their supermarket meat came from, or what quality of life it had. And believe me, if you really “don’t care” about the details of the meat you’re eating, then you’re not doing your body any favours…!

    Get thee to a farmers’ market!
    Our local one has the most amazing free-range/organic Wild Boar sausages with prune & claret…oh, yeahhhhhh…

    I know, it costs more than Tesco, but it’s worth eating a little less meat of higher quality.
    Fewer antibiotics & growth hormones for a bloody start!

  8. Andy A says:

    Dan Factor wrote,

    … you do sound like a veggie, or at least the self righteous kind who wants to stick his beliefs down the throats of those who don’t subscribe to his way of life.

    What you are saying is excactly the kind of thing the loonie animal rights groups would say, that we should share some thought about the ‘poor’ animal who was killed for our enjoyment. Personally I couldn’t care less. If I cared I wouldn’t eat meat.

    No, Dan, I do get the impression that you couldn’t care less if language like this is all you’re capable of. If merely posting a comment is ‘stick[ing my] beliefs down the throats of those who don’t subscribe to [my] way of life’, then you must be guilty of the same thing, since you’ve just, er, given us your, er, beliefs, I think. I could see that I’d caught you off guard and perhaps had you thinking I was a veggie. But you obviously see things such glorious black and white that life must be blissfully uncomplicated for you.

    It is possible to have some respect for life without talking of what religionists call its ‘sanctity’; it is possible to talk of respecting another creature, for isn’t that why we use humane slaughtering (whether it’s as good as it’s cracked up to be is another matter, of course)? Why do you take such an uncalled-for, vicious, not to mention ad hominem swipe at me for expressing something as human (humanist?) as a respect for a sentient creature’s life and a wish to keep its suffering to a minimum. Am I to take it that you don’t give a monkey’s how your beef or lamb is slaughtered? If it had been put into the oven while still alive, would that bother you? I’m beginning to wonder where your particular dividing line is between your ‘couldn’t care less’ and actually having a qualm – for I don’t really believe you’d deliberately inflict suffering on something that can feel pain and fear.

    You’re not alone in taking the rather dismissive attitude towards me that you do, of course. Some atheists (I am taking the liberty of assuming you are one, but pardon me if I’m wrong) seem as dogmatic as the most rabid of religionlists, sometimes, and if anyone so much as talks of respect for an animal’s life he or she is branded a ‘self righteous kind who wants to stick his beliefs down the throats of those who don’t subscribe to his way of life’. And what, may I ask, is my ‘way of life’? Have you been reading my mail?

    I shudder to think what sort of reception I’d get if I dared to write about spirituality – because I believe I can make a case for that without resorting to the supernatural!

    Seems it will be a case of ‘beware the Factor factor’!

  9. Dan Factor says:

    Andy. I am not having a go at you for expressing your beliefs. I just think you sound like a veggie.
    Again I could not care less about the animals I eat. If I did I would not eat meat.
    The animal rights groups would say to me “If you care so much about cows, chickens, pigs why do you eat them?”

  10. Martin Conway says:

    Oliver killed this lamb whilst it was conscious, as we saw. It would have felt pain and terror. He is supposed to have killed it, amongst other reasons, to show what is involved in bringing meat to the table. If that is what he wanted to show he could have used existing film of slaughter. If he had to kill this lamb – and I say that he didn’t have to – he could have ensured that it was stunned first or killed instantaneously. What he did was cruel and unneccesary. I am also well aware that slaughterhouses kill animals in extremely cruel and painful ways, I worked in one briefly when I was younger. What happens in slaughterhouses or anywhere else does not excuse what Oliver did.

    Before anyone accuses me of hypocrisy or not caring about humans, I will add that I have been a vegan for 26 years and I campaign on behalf of humans who are suffering.

    Andrew Nixon, where do you get that information that says PETA puts down 85 per cent of animals in their care? Perhaps you could tell us?


    Martin C.

  11. Andrew Nixon says:


    Once you take away the animals that were reclaimed by their owners, they put down 85.8% of the animals in their care.

  12. Andrew Nixon says:

    And the SPCA (the US equivalent of the RSPCA) department located 3.5 miles from the PETA department, only put down 5% of animals using the same criteria.

  13. Martin Conway says:

    With reference to the accusation made in post 6, above, I e-mailed PETA USA to ask about their policy. Below is their response. It shines a different light on the matter, instead of just the bare statistics:

    Thank you for your e-mail to PETA about euthanasia. I’m happy to address the issues

    you raise.

    First, it is important to note that PETA does not operate a traditional shelter. Our

    Community Animal Project (CAP) rescues homeless animals from environmental

    dangers, as well as cruelty and neglect

    ( They crawl through sewers, poke

    through junkyards, climb trees, and dodge traffic in order to reach animals in danger.

    During floods and storms, they are out saving lives at all hours.

    We refer every healthy animal we can to local shelters for placement. Some of the

    animals we take in are lost companions with loving families who miss them; we are

    always happy to return such animals to their homes. We have also managed to catch

    and return some highly elusive animals other agencies had given up on. While some

    of the healthy, adoptable homeless animals we rescue are fostered in homes (often

    our own) or taken directly to local shelters to await adoption, the reality is that

    thousands of animals are euthanized every day across America for lack of good


    PETA takes in the animals nobody wants¯not even the local shelter. The local SPCA

    is a so-called “no-kill” shelter, meaning they turn away animals when they are full, and

    only accept the animals they can easily adopt out¯animals that are young, healthy and

    friendly. Obviously, they have a much lower rate of euthanasia that any other

    “all-admission” facility. By contrast, PETA takes in feral cats descended from

    abandoned, unaltered cat companions, now wild and often infected with deadly,

    ravaging diseases like feline AIDS and leukemia; stray dogs so disfigured by mange

    that they are almost no longer recognizable as canines; litters of parvo-infected

    puppies, plagued with diarrhea and vomiting, literally dehydrating to death; and

    backyard dogs who have known only chains, beatings, and neglect and have gone

    mad because of it. To learn more about some of our community work, visit We also provide free euthanasia for people

    who have terminally ill animals who cannot afford to take them to a veterinarian—all of

    these animals must be included in our euthanasia statistics.

    Most of the animals we receive are broken beings for whom euthanasia is, without a

    doubt, the most humane option. To cite a local instance, our caseworkers were able

    to gain custody of a dog—locked to a 15 pound chain—who was starved until she was

    severely emaciated. We had to carry her into the emergency clinic because she

    could barely walk. On the doctor’s advice, we gave her food and water in a

    comfortable room and monitored her progress overnight but, by the next morning, she

    couldn’t keep the food down, so we rushed her again to see a veterinarian. He

    recommended euthanasia due to the severity of her condition, she was in a lot of pain

    and faced an agonizing, lingering death otherwise. The most humane option for her

    was a peaceful and dignified release from her suffering. We are pursuing criminal

    charges against the person responsible for her condition. To learn more, please see

    There is hope for abused, neglected, and homeless animals, and it lies in prevention.

    We must persuade people to spay and neuter their animal companions to stop the

    cycle of abuse. We must convince governments to accept responsibility instead of

    turning a blind eye to a problem that results in unimaginable animal suffering (not to

    mention taxpayer expense). PETA works very hard to inform the public about proper

    care for animal companions¯including the need to spay and neuter¯through

    pamphlets, billboards, letters to the editor, ads, articles, and humane education in

    schools. We spay and neuter animals of low-income families and the elderly poor for

    no charge whatsoever¯we pay for every shot, surgery, blood and fecal sample, and

    medication. Our SNIP-mobile (Spay and Neuter Immediately, Please) has performed

    more than 25,000 spay and neuter surgeries and continues to sterilize between 500

    and 600 animals each month.

    PETA has always spoken openly about euthanasia, on our Web site and in our

    publications, and—while we understand that it is upsetting to learn about—it is

    necessary in this imperfect world. We hope you understand that it is gut-wrenching for

    those of us at PETA and at shelters across the country who care deeply for animals to

    have to hold animals in our arms and take their lives because there is nowhere decent

    for them to go. Euthanasia will continue to be necessary until people prevent dogs and

    cats from bringing new litters into the world and as long as people hide their heads in

    the sand and leave the dirty work to others.

    We urge everyone who is concerned about domestic-animal abuse to join us in our

    campaign to promote spaying and neutering. To learn more, please visit

    I hope this information is helpful to you. Thanks again for your e-mail, and for your

    compassion for animals.

    The Top Ten Reasons Not to Eat Turkeys:
    Support our work:


  14. tom p says:

    Reasons why formatting are important #1:
    I read this line in the post above
    “ We also provide free euthanasia for people”
    and was, for possibly the first time ever, genuinely shocked. It was only on reading the next line cum mini paragraph that I realised they were talking about euthanising animals.