Claire Smith: If you must kill an animal, at least eat all of it

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IN A Thanksgiving episode of Friends, Phoebe Buffay gets upset when she doesn’t get asked to pull the wishbone.

“Vegetarians never get to do the wishbone. It’s really not fair, either. Just because we don’t eat the meat doesn’t mean we don’t like to play with the carcasses.”

I thought of this when I was at the Nick Nairn ­Cookschool in Port of Menteith, twirling a whole chicken round my head by its leg and trying to dislocate the hip joint. “Swing it harder,” said Esme the Scotsman photographer. “You need to jiggle it about with a bit more force.”

When I realised we were going to spend our day at the cook school dismembering chicken and learning how to fillet fish I had worried about offending Esme the photographer, who is a vegetarian. But it turned out her attachment to animals was less sentimental than I feared. “If it came to it I would shoot something and eat it,” she said.

I understand because I used to be vegetarian too, but never the soppy kind.

It surprises me sometimes, but since starting to eat meat again I’ve never been scared of slicing through flesh and boiling up bones.

If you are going to eat an animal it is surely better and more respectful to make sure every little bit of it is used for roasting, salads, stir fries, sandwiches and made into stock for soup.

And squeamishness about turning animals into meat is costing us all a ­fortune. Supermarkets have lured us into buying individually wrapped portions or pre-prepared selections of small cuts which are far more expensive.

At the Nick Nairn Cookschool with the help of tutor John Webber I managed to transform a chicken which would probably have cost around a tenner into a tray full of component parts which would probably cost you twenty quid if you bought them all separately.

You’ll need strong wrists, a sharp knife and not be put off by the sound of cracking bones – but it is not as hard as it looks.

If you want to eat meat it pays to be less sentimental and more like nature herself – red in tooth and claw.