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I am a public health doctor who is cynically optimistic about most things.

Revenge of the ruminants

“It was definitely not a moo.” I asserted

“Oh it certainly was a moo.” My wife replied

“So now I’ve transformed into farmyard animal or something?” I asked, growing slightly irritated.

I got up, feeling not exactly a hundred percent with a certain heaviness in my chest.  On my way down, I surmised that it was probably the after-effects of my previous day’s despondency brought on by Iraq’s abject display against Iran in the Asian Cup and felt a glass of milk was in order.

My inconsequential thoughts were interrupted by a hoof, or two hooves to be precise. This would have been a disconcerting sight in itself had they not emerged from my very own mouth.

Over the next few minutes I cannot describe the pain, the shock and paralysing fear that I went through as a whole cow emerged from the recesses of my stomach. Once disentangled, the cow looked back in what I can only describe as bovine indignation before setting nonchalantly off towards the kitchen.

No one has to know about this, I thought to myself. It’s just a dream that we can all laugh about in the morning.


I was sure the sound came from me as a feeling of dread quickly returned. A chicken, feathers and all, emerged and gave me a look tempered with disdain this time.

Before long, dozens of cows, hundreds of sheep and chickens together with floating fish filled the lower floor of my house. I tried desperately to keep their noises down as I struggled to figure out how to contain this fiasco.

All of a sudden they all fell silent.

They formed a circle around me, their eyes filled with malice. Minutes passed…

And then they pounced.

I awoke in cold sweat. It was a dream! just a dream!

On my way to work I happened across a report of the latest global food crisis. Typically it would have occupied me for a few seconds but given my previous night’s experiences I felt it had significant resonance.

Iraqi cuisine is over-reliant on meat to say the least. A meal is not considered complete without it. Prophetic traditions advise against its excess, its detrimental health effects have been well documented and the resources it requires is putting tremendous strain on our environment.

Regular meat intake is a recent phenomenon with it being a relative luxury in earlier times but has firmly established itself in modern diets. Modern farming has kept up so far but as the populations of the East get richer, so will their demand for meat in an already resource-strained planet. Clearly, the ethical, healthy and social responsible option would be to reduce our meat intake.

I took my dream and article as an omen and resolved to start by cutting meat from my diet at least once a week. Explaining this to my wife would be relatively straight-forward but explaining the hoof-marks and feathers on the kitchen floor would be another matter indeed.

4 Comments on “Revenge of the ruminants”

  1. Ahmed January 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    what an imagination you have Ali! Let’s promote falafel, taboula, fatoush and bamia without meat instead! I’m all for it, so let’s discuss it at Kabab Arbil next week.

  2. Tuga January 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    You really do have a great imagination Ali, I love your style.

    I like the topic too. During Ramadan I came across this article in the Guardian’s Comment is Free entitled “Eating less meat is more Islamic” where the author talks about this very topic.


  3. JAbass January 13, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    I think sometimes we forget that the Arab diet includes a lot of fresh vegetables and from a nutritional point, a portion of meat should be no bigger than your palm or thicker than your hand.

    The best part about visiting Iraq is the abundance of fresh fruit and veg at ridiculously low prices and always sold by kilograms.

  4. Don Cox January 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    “Clearly, the ethical, healthy and social responsible option would be to reduce our meat intake.”

    Or to reduce our numbers.

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