Dining across the divide: ‘I think killing animals and eating them is fine. He doesn’t’

Darcey, 50, Inverness

Occupation Freelance careers consultant

Voting record More Lib Dem than anything else, although has voted for every party except the SNP

Amuse bouche Darcey has been involved with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for about seven years. She is obsessed with bumblebees

David, 58, Glasgow and Valencia

Occupation Commercial director of a technology business, PhD researcher and visiting lecturer

Voting record Before the Scottish referendum would vote for a candidate he personally respected, or, failing that, spoil his ballot. Now votes SNP

Amuse bouche A founder member of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue large whale disentanglement team

For starters

Darcey He was really friendly – welcoming, ebullient.

David It was a beautiful day. In she came, smiling, happy, perfect – she was so personable. I honestly felt as if we’d known each other for ever.

Darcey I had the deep-fried pork bao buns, which were amazing.

David I had the single best tomato soup I’ve ever eaten. We then both had the pad thai. It looked fantastic, it tasted fantastic.

The big beef

Darcey David is a committed vegan and I’m a committed omnivore. I’m all for people choosing whatever kind of diet suits them. My concern is when people argue to build food policy around certain types of diet without thinking through the unintended consequences. With veganism, there are nutrient issues, environmental issues, issues with putting food processing in the hands of corporations. We have to understand how we got to where we are in terms of eating meat before we make big changes.

David She was not judgmental. At no time did she suggest I was daft for being vegan. Frankly, I am living proof: I’m fitter than I’ve ever been. With nearly 20 years of research into veganism and the animal industry, I understand that unless you are eating hand-reared, organic meat of incredible quality, as part of a balanced diet, you’re slowly poisoning yourself. Darcey was quite happy with that, and if meat simply wasn’t available she wouldn’t have a problem with that, either.

Darcey It was about two hours in when I said: “Look we still haven’t got to the crux of the matter, which is that I think killing animals and eating them is fine and you don’t.” I think he was a bit taken aback. He brought up foxhunting, this idea of performative slaughter. My rebuttal was that in a healthy food system it’s not performative. I think it should be done as quickly and humanely as possible.

David A phrase that she introduced and we were using quite freely by the end was “farm to fork”. Quite often, when we’re talking to young people about veganism, I’ve been asked: “What’s wrong with cheese? It’s just a plant.” People genuinely have no idea how destructive modern agriculture is.

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Sharing plate

David We spoke about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. It was lovely to have a discussion where she wasn’t saying: “They’re growing soya beans so you can have your tofu.” She understands that soya beans are being grown to feed animals. That’s what’s doing the harm.

Darcey Every country should be paying Brazil for the ecosystem services of the rainforest, paying them not to deforest. From a policy point of view, successive governments have let food and food security slide.

For afters

David We spoke about the scale of bullying on social media. A lot of it is sexist. If it’s an obviously female person who’s posted, they’ll get a huge response: “You’re a horrible person, you need to do this or that.” Politicians could stop this, they should preach the church of Bill and Ted, which is “Be excellent to each other”. Instead, they want to get us fighting over who uses which toilet.

Darcey We agreed that social media is not the best place to have a considered argument. When I’ve had disagreements, I’ve never felt that it was particularly sexist, more like generic bullying: “I’m right, you’re wrong.”


David She was the perfect debating companion.

Darcey We spent three hours there. They had to throw us out in the end.

Additional reporting: Kitty Drake

Darcey and David ate at Contrast Brasserie in Inverness

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