In a rather surprising move, British Airways announced this week that it will no longer be serving beef aboard its (often Hindu-filled) flights in economy (a.k.a. “cattle”) class:
British Airways has ditched beef for economy class passengers this summer in an attempt to appeal to a more international passenger base.
The familiar cabin crew inquiry of “chicken or beef?” will not be heard in economy after the airline ditched the national dish in favour of what it calls a lighter, healthier option.
Critics will suspect that the relentless pressure to cut costs that all airlines are facing is behind the move, although BA said cost was not a factor…
“We can only serve two options and beef and pork obviously have religious restrictions,” the spokesman added. BA’s second-biggest long-haul market, after transatlantic routes, is to India. [Link]
p>As might be expected, many Brits were not happy about this. For one thing, what the hell are all the Beefeaters going to do?
The decision to scrap the nation’s favourite fare was described as a “great shame” by the English Beef and Lamb Executive, formerly part of the Meat and Livestock Commission.
A spokesman said: “It is regrettable that Britain’s flag carrier is not proposing to serve Britain’s national dish.
“It is a meal we are rightly proud of. Roast beef and beefeaters are symbols or Britain used to promote tourism.
“Our beef is also much in demand overseas. It is predominately grass fed and highly praised for its flavour. [Link]
What is really regrettable, in my opinion, is that moves like this, made under the guise of multicultural sensitivity, more often than not backfire and may increase resentment of Hindus living in England. “Just another British tradition being erased by the immigrants.” In reality, British Airways did this to save money, not to be sensitive:
… as any Jew, Muslim, Hindu or vegetarian knows, meals that conform to religious belief or personal choice can be ordered in advance. That is why bacon sandwiches are handed out on early-morning shuttle flights without causing a riot.
So something is fishy and it is not just the pie. No, what we have here is space-saver wheel syndrome, or another example of the way the consumer is hoodwinked under the guise of efficiency, health, safety, security or conservation, while the reality of big business is always bottom line, bottom line, bottom line. British Airways may dissemble, but beef being available to those who wish to pay means that better living and religious sensitivity do not enter into it. Beef prices have risen from Â£2,500 per tonne to Â£4,000 per tonne in the past three months. If BA was upfront with its public, the announcement would read: if you can’t afford it at home, you ain’t getting it on us. At least then you would know where you stood. [Link]
p>For British Airways it is easier to “blame” the loss of beef on Hindus than to admit that cost cutting is necessary. A third way of looking at this is that getting rid of the beef on BA flights is actually good for the environment and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is how British Airways should have justified the decision:
Meet the world’s top destroyer of the environment. It is not the car, or the plane,or even George Bush: it is the cow.
A United Nations report has identified the world’s rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. And they are blamed for a host of other environmental crimes, from acid rain to the introduction of alien species, from producing deserts to creating dead zones in the oceans, from poisoning rivers and drinking water to destroying coral reefs. [Link]