Camilla Swift

Reindeer roasting on an open fire

Reindeer roasting on an open fire
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What’s wrong with eating reindeer? Well, if you normally eat meat, then I’d argue, absolutely nothing. But not everyone agrees with me. The fact that Lidl are selling packs of the meat – with festive golden reindeer on the box – has upset a number of people; presumably because they associate it with a certain Christmas tune about a red-nosed version employed by Father Christmas.

But in reality, very little differentiates a loin of reindeer from a standard loin of venison – if anything. After all venison is, strictly speaking, the meat from any deer. So why not just label it 'venison’? Selling it as ‘reindeer’ meat, rather than venison (or caribou, which is how it is sold in most British outlets, and in Canada), is simply a festive marketing ploy in the first place. That’s sort of what animal rights activists have been saying as well, with animal rights group Viva! describing the meat as a ‘sick novelty’.

[caption id="attachment_8948592" align="alignleft" width="510"]The reindeer steaks on sale in Lidl. Image: Getty The reindeer steaks on sale in Lidl. Image: Getty[/caption]

When you think about it properly though, what would you rather have for Christmas lunch or festive canapés – a bit of venison (labeled as reindeer), which has lived a happy life in the Siberian tundra – or a battery farmed turkey with some processed pork on the side? I know which I’d choose, and it wouldn’t be the ones who’d lived a life of misery. In fact, even Peta, who I know come from a different side of the argument from me (as they’d rather no one ate animals at all, rather than accepting that people will continue to eat meat, and encouraging them to think about where their meat comes from), say something similar, telling me:

‘Many people are upset to see reindeer meat in supermarkets, but when you think about it, the filthy, crowded conditions on today's factory farms are pretty upsetting, too, and the vast majority of the 1 billion animals killed and eaten in the UK every year, are raised in cruel and unsanitary conditions. There's no logical reason to pet one and eat the other.’

So there you go. If you don’t eat meat, then you most likely won’t approve of reindeer being sold in Lidl; but if you care about animal welfare and where your lunch comes from, it’s probably a better choice than many other Christmas roasts – apart from a nut one, that is.