Bring something virtuous instead, if you want to get on the right side of the government and do your bit for the NHS.
Stock up on alfalfa, some nuts, perhaps a little tofu – all those things that are are both more and less than food.
Less, because anyone who prefers that stuff to a rare sirloin or full English hates food – and also God who provided it. More, because by going veggie, one sends a message of virtue urbi et orbi.
Alas, we’re all sinners and there’s a price attached to sin. It used to be believed that payment will be exacted in the afterlife, but that’s oh so yesterday.
If you sin against ‘our planet’, your body and consequently the NHS, the state will step in and make you pay instantly. Cash on the nail, son, without trouble like.
That’s why the government will almost certainly follow Oxford scientists’ recommendation that a 79 per cent tax be imposed on bacon, ham and sausages, and a 14 per cent one on raw meat.
Our governing spivs can be trusted to accept as gospel any pseudo-academic prescriptions that involve raising taxes. If tomorrow a Cambridge don recommends taxing dog owners or golfers, be sure that recommendation will be followed with alacrity.
With the fraudulent precision so characteristic of today’s academics the Oxonians promise that such a measure would prevent 6,000 deaths annually by dragging us towards healthier gastronomy.
They’re missing a trick there. Take it from an old advertising hack, chaps, never give round numbers if you want to be believed. Thus 6,054 would have sounded more credible than 6,000.
Equally suspect is their assertion that squeezing us with even more taxes would save the NHS £730 million by reducing the need for care. Again, take my advice, lads: either say ‘£729 million’ or, if you insist on round numbers, say ‘just under a billion’.
Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann explains that: “The consumption of red and processed meat… is having significant impacts not only on personal health, but also on healthcare systems, which are taxpayer-funded.
“We are not saying do not have any meat, just pay a fair price for it that reflects the cost to your health and the pressure on the NHS.”
I suspect it would be easier for Dr Springmann to lose the redundant last letter in his surname than to abandon his canine devotion to the good of the state. But I admire his omniscience in knowing what is and what isn’t a fair price for a BLT sarnie.
Alas, in the fine, if recent, tradition of our academe he seems to be incapable of making a sound argument focusing on the crux of the matter, rather than on peripheral issues. It’s not about us deciding to eat more or less meat; it’s about the state making that decision for us.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a close friend, who at that time, some 30 years ago, was an NHS doctor. Having just moved to England from the US, I was appalled to see that not wearing a seat belt was punishable by law.
Such negligence, I said, could potentially harm the driver but no one else. And the government’s function is to protect us from others, not from ourselves.
Yes, said my friend, but if you get injured as a result of not wearing a seat belt, treating you would cost the NHS a lot of money, which makes it the government’s business.
That, I replied, is the strongest argument against the NHS, proving my point that a government that does a lot for you will end up doing a lot more to you.
Nationalised medicine enables the state to dictate what and when we should eat, how many hours or with whom we should sleep, how much exercise we should have and so forth. Yet I’d rather risk health problems than see my liberty curtailed wantonly.
To his credit, my friend has since mitigated his adulation of the NHS, but at that time he almost snapped my head off.
The NHS, you see, isn’t just a (grossly inefficient) system of financing healthcare. It has become a cult, a National Holy Service, and things like infidelity, apostasy and heresy are unthinkable.
Not being an expert, I’m not prepared to argue the health aspects of eating red meat. On general principle, I’m sure that eating too much of anything is bad for you, and meat is no exception – just as I’m certain that moderate consumption of any food God gave us in his munificence can’t harm anyone.
However, if those learned Oxonians want to elucidate the medical aspects of food, by all means they should. That’s what they get paid for.
But when they recommend punitive action, coinciding with the state’s urge to put its foot as far down as it’ll go while extorting even more money from us, they step way outside their brief.
I can only repeat what I said to my friend 30 years ago: it’s not the state’s remit to save us from ourselves. It is, however, its remit to save us from domestic criminals and foreign enemies.
For example, the state should pursue to the ends of the earth the vegan scum who issued death threats to that Devon turkey farmer – and send them down for many years, with nothing but meat on their prison diets.
Neither would it go amiss to treat knife wielders as vicious criminals to be locked up for life, rather than misguided youngsters in need of mollycoddling care. And yes, perhaps catching and convicting some burglars would be helpful too.
Once the state has taken care of its prime responsibilities, by all means let’s talk about Sunday roasts and bacon rolls – provided that chitchat doesn’t turn out to be yet another pretext to extort more of our money.
We’re sensible people, and we’ll listen to sound advice. But that’s all it should be, advice. Not a diktat, not a robbery attempt, not a way of reminding us who’s boss.
As to Dr Springmann and his fellow cardsharps, perhaps they should retrain as butcher’s assistants. They’d be able to do something useful for a change.