There seems to be a lot of talk about vegetarianism at the moment, with a host of chefs bringing out veggie cook books.  Gone are the days of labelling vegetarians as 'hippies' and offering them a stuffed mushroom on the menu.  Today, it is not only acceptable to be a veggie, but is now being positively encouraged by a new wave of gourmet chefs.

My Story

I am a vegetarian.

I became a vegetarian at university where I took a course on animal ethics and watched, in horror, at the way many animals were kept and killed.  I'm sure if the ready supply of organic meat was around then I would have eaten that as it complies to my principles, but it wasn't (to my knowledge) and I certainly couldn't have afforded it anyway.

I have been vegetarian for 18 years except for 6 months spent working in Germany, where it was pretty much impossible to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle (I found the Germans like their meat!).  I was touring with a theatre company and I recall one lunch in a restaurant where I ordered pasta and parroted out my finest German...'Ich bin vegetarisch.  Kein fleisch'. They brought me spaghetti carbonara, complete with small chunks of ham.  I pointed to it - 'Das ist fleisch?' I asked? They looked and pooed-pooed me as if these tiny bits of ham barely counted as meat (this is a nation that eats raw mince on a roll).  I grew accustomed to picking bits of meat out or going hungry.  In the end, I gave in.  Bratwurst won.

When I say I am vegetarian I unfortunately feel I need to clarify what that means. As I had to countless times to many, many people:

Yes, I am vegetarian.

No, I don't eat chicken.

Or fish.

No, no meat at all.

Yes, I do eat eggs.  

And cheese.  I'm not vegan.

Or 'fruitarian'...ha ha ha (bloody Notting Hill!)

Yes, I do wear leather, thanks for pointing that out.  As I said, I'm not vegan.  

I don't eat meat because I don't agree with the way many animals are farmed.

Yes, I do let my children eat meat.

Yes, I do 'actually like' veggie sausages.
No, I'm not judging you - please don't judge me.

I am not telling you not to eat meat, I am simply saying I don't.  Please stop waving that sausage in my face saying 'ooh, piggy!'  Are you trying to be offensive, funny or both?

And so on.....
I know there are a lot of vegetarians who do spout on about 'meat is murder'.  I am not one of them.  I believe everybody has the right to eat what they choose and make their own decisions about the ethics of food.  I wish others would pay me the same compliment.

I know it is a pain in the arse if a lone veggie comes and spoils your dinner party.  We are used to bringing our own food to such things or can offer a suggestion if you are stuck for ideas.  Don't smite us.


Two years ago, when I was pregnant with my third child, I wanted fish.  Except for habit/it felt wrong, I couldn't come up with a convincing argument why I shouldn't allow myself to have it.  In a world where organic meat and responsibly farmed fish is readily available, there was no reason I couldn't eat meat and maintain my beliefs.  So, I ate fish.  Then, having tentatively stepped on to the slippery slope, I ate sausages.  And bacon.  (It was at this point that I smiled serenely as a flurry of people laughed at me and said 'It's always bacon that gets you!  Ooh, was it good?  I knew it was a fad! 18 years, Mother!).

So, for two years now, I have been eating meat.  There is still meat I can't eat because it simply tastes too 'meaty' - lamb, for instance.  I have never and would never eat offal.  I still can't watch cookery programs where they hack up the animal and cook it.  I still feel guilty about eating meat and every meal is accompanied by a thought of the animal that died.  I just can't help it.  And although it is much easier as a family, I suspect some day I will give it up again.  At heart, I am a vegetarian, just a non-practising one.

I am a vegetarian who eats meat.

originally posted on Hello Wall...


  1. I am meat eater and have had some of those conversations above (unfortunately I was the sausage waver in that case, {squirm, not proud, each to their own}) I lived in Argentina for a while and had a friend who was vegan. It was nigh on impossible for him to eat well (in my opinion) and his life went around food gathering to get enough sustenance in him. He survived, with scraps of beef thrown in. Another friend in the UK is a vegetarian for the same reason as you. Except he loves meat. Like, travelled to Spain and couldn't get enough cured meat, pigs cheeks and offal. Back in London in a pub though and he'll be the one having a nut roast. Go figure...
    Love the old pictures you find!
    Thanks for stopping by Forest Bird and reading :-)