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.
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.
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...