The roast lamb on Easter menu in Italy that the turkey at Christmas or pizza in Naples: a must gastronomy. Yet despite a culinary tradition almost two thousand years, it is in decline. On the eve of Easter, everything seems to indicate. The number of lambs slaughtered in Italy has been halved in less than five years from 4.6 million in 2010 to just over two million last year, according to the National Institute of Statistics (Istat) . Animal rights activists argue that this trend, which has accelerated over the past two years, is the public reaction to a deemed barbaric practice of separating from their mother barely lambs born to send them to slaughter.
Pino and Massimiliano Marabitti, butchers in Rome, grumbled: "The defenders of animal rights are worse than the Muslim fundamentalists," joked the second behind his stall in the Trieste area of the market. "What difference does it make to kill an animal aged six weeks, six months or six years?", He asks. The brothers confirm the decline in lamb sales, but they have another explanation than a practice deemed "barbarian": the economic crisis. "The lamb is expensive, especially Italian lamb," said Massimiliano preparing a leg for a client willing to pay 20 euros per kg Roman lamb, twice the price of an imported lamb.
"What we are seeing more and more, they are imported meat in Eastern Europe, where the rules of control and hygiene are not the ones we have here," explains Roman butcher. "People have more money then they go to the supermarket and buy what kind of meat" of lower quality, he said.
Elvis and Lina
It is not at all the view of Fassetta Silvia, one of the founders of "The Green Place", a shelter for animals near Nepi, north of Rome, home to two lambs survivors of the slaughter, and Elvis Lina, stars of an internet campaign for the protection of these animals. These two lambs are passed through the hands of actors and other personalities from the cinema and Italian television, which begged the Italians to save them from the butcher's knife, "Make a sacrifice for Easter: do not kill me," lisait- it on posters.
Italian media reported that campaign supported by the League against vivisection, one of the largest animal welfare organizations in Europe with over 40,000 members and donors. Silvia Fassetta believes the weight of the animal rights in a country with nearly five million vegetarians and more and more consumers are conscious of what they eat. "The bulk of the decline in consumption has occurred in the last two years. The other day, one of the largest supermarket chains offered a 50% discount on the lamb. If she does that just before Easter is that our message is beginning to be heard, "she told AFP.
The history of Easter lamb is as rich as its meat is tender and juicy. The Gospel of John describes Christ as "the Lamb of God," a reference commonly understood as an allusion to the Jewish tradition. Each year, the Jews sacrificed a lamb to commemorate their flight from Egypt: in memory of lamb blood affixed to the doors of Jewish families in Egypt to their first-born children were spared the wrath of God.
The sacrifice has fallen into disuse but lamb consumption remained very present in some Jewish communities, especially in Rome since the second century lies one of the oldest in Europe, influencing in turn Roman cuisine, especially at Easter . Yet nothing in the Christian scriptures obliges the faithful to eat lamb at Easter and animal advocates regularly ask the pope reaffirmed. But the Pope has for the moment limited to recommending treat animals in general.