Friday, 21 March 2014

Never mind, I'll find someone like you... + FAQ

Hello, people of the world!
...And an extra special hello is extended to those vegetarian pals of mine out there (my brethren forever). Woah, stop. Take your cursor off the 'back' button. This is no vegetarian propaganda - and I am no propagandist. Frankly, I am honest. Thus, today, I'm giving you an honest account of vegetarianism with all its trials and hardships. Make of it what you will.
Loyal followers of mine (if you exist) may be aware from a previous blog post of mine, A Conversation With A Bacon Sandwich, that vegetarianism is a relatively new phenomenon for me. The vast majority of my, albeit quite short, life has been spent as a meat eater. I have spent roughly the amount of time as a vegetarian as I was in the womb... (That is such a weird analogy... could I not just say nine months?) Ah, those days... do I look on them with nostalgia? Sure, the swimming around and sleeping all day was pretty appealing, but... OK, I do miss those womb days, but I'm talking about my omnivorous past here. But in regard to that, I really don't. You forget about it - you really do. In fact, the idea of meat seems really weird now!

I have to admit the breakup was traumatic though - severing that sixteen year relationship. I took it out for dinner first, to try and soften the blow. We went to Wagamammas. I had chicken ramen. That was my last non-vegetarian meal - Wagamammas Chicken Ramen. Perhaps, in hindsight, it should have been different. There's no point dwelling now - back to the story.
"Look, we need to talk." I blurted. This hypothetical meat substance, that I was in the process of wining and dining, looked up at me from over its menu.
"I..." my cheeks blushed red, and a tear rose to my eye. "I'm sorry."
It stared at me, aghast.
"It isn't you, it's me." I continued. "Well, it is actually you. You're just not sustainable enough. You're - " I burst into tears. "You're responsible for eighteen percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Most of that is methane. Methane! That's - well, sources vary, but - that's over ten times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its climate-altering capacity. Some scientists say more. If it was just carbon dioxide, maybe I could handle it, but - " I took a deep breath. " - But it's methane. It's methane."
I broke down into a cacophony of sobs.
"Is this how you want it to end?" it asked in a low voice. "You and me. Here in Wagamamas. With this chicken ramen. Is this how you really want it to end?"
I picked up my chopsticks and skewered a noodle. It slipped out of my grasp. I tried again, repeatedly, to no avail, and then I cut the pretense and requested some cutlery from a waitress, still sobbing. She passed it to me discreetly, out of sight of the other diners to minimise my shame. I scooped the noodles up with a fork and ate them defiantly.
"Yes." I said. "This is where it ends."

"We can still be friends..." I called after it as it raced out of the restaurant, wailing - but then my call cut short. We can't still be friends! When is that ever a realistic option? We couldn't still be friends, because that substance is liasing with the enemy. That substance licks the enemy's butt! I was only ever a third wheel in a filthy little love triangle between greenhouse gases and meat.
And I will be nobody's 'bit on the side'.
So I paid the bill and left. I felt determined, triumphant. I felt empowered.

At home, I made myself an omelette, then opened the freezer.
"Never mind, I'll find someone like you..." I sang to myself.
And I opened a packet of Quorn.
The rest is history.
(I spent a vast amount of that day eating, you'll have noticed).

And that's how a whole new life of mine began. Quorn and I are very happy. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and—

"An’ live off the fatta the lan’," Quorn shouts presently, interrupting me. "An’ have rabbits. Go on! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that."

"Why’n’t you do it yourself? You know all of it." I respond.

"No…you tell it. It ain’t the same if I tell it. Go on... How I get to tend the rabbits."

We're only gonna tend those rabbits, see? We're not going to eat them. 
(Please, please tell me you get the reference)

In short, we're living the Vegetarian Dream. So I'll conclude my happy little tale with some Frequently Asked Questions. These are questions that people ask you repeatedly in wonder and revulsion when they learn of your conversion.

FAQS for veggies:

  • 1. But why are you a veggie? Do you have a problem with killing animals? Do you think slaughter is evil? Cos your shoes are made of leather. You do know eating meat is natural, right? Like, people have been doing it for like, millions of years.
Dear me... did you read this blog post at all?

  • 2. But... what do you even eat?
"What do I NOT eat?" I tend to shout back, invariably met by a smart-arse responding, albeit truthfully, "Uh, meat." But the options are widespread and varied. In a typical week I'll eat pasta, omelettes, quorn; you can still eat pizza, so many curries, and you'd be surprised how delicious a nut roast can be. Nandos do a fab beany burger. Wagamama's yasai katsu curry is food of the gods. Risotto, salad, quiche... when you consider it, your options are practically endless. Well, they do end at meat, but you know what I mean.

  • 3. Aren't you, like, anaemic now though? 
Actually, no. I donated blood the other week, and they lapped it up. They were vampires. They weren't. (I think). But they tested my blood on-site for anaemia, and after nine months of vegetarianism I still possess a healthy level of iron in my blood, so it's all good on that front.

  • 4. Yeah, but you must be all pale and skinny and dead-eyed now?
It's a matter of opinion, all those factors, I think. My opinion says not quite. 

  • 5. OK, well at least answer me this:  do you miss it?
Ah... I get asked this so much. On the whole, no. I suffer moments of weakness. I looked very longingly at some slices of salami the other day. But for me, it didn't take a huge amount of willpower. The idea of eating meat seems genuinely weird now; you move on quite quickly. 

  • 6. What is your opinion on vegans?
I mean, I do admire them a little. It's definitely far better for the environment typically. I don't think I am ready to commit to that at this stage - call me a flawed and hypocritical human being if you will. But, just as with my own brethren vegetarians, I don't think anyone should strut around claiming that consuming animal products is 'wrong' or 'evil'. For me, vegetarianism/veganism is not a question of ethics, but just a move to safeguard our future. The notion that any dietary choice is 'wrong' will only ever just be an opinion, and never a fact. Don't listen to extremists. 

  • 7. What does Quorn taste like?
"If you're so interested, try it!" is what I tend to snap back, but then I relent and explain. It's not quite meat, granted, but I think the taste is pretty pleasant and the texture is NOT as bad as people make out. It does taste of meat. Not overpoweringly, but you can definitely convince yourself. 

  • 8. You do know that the production of Quorn emits greenhouse gases too?
I do indeed. However, the primary emission is carbon dioxide (far less potent than methane, as aforementioned), and one of the main arguments I believe strengthens Quorn's case, is that it is space-efficient. All over the rainforest, trees are being slashed and burnt (as explained briefly in Saving The World From My... Study?) to make room for cattle farming. Livestock as means of food production uses land inefficiently. And in a world with a growing problem of overpopulation (see A staggering fact) we need all the space we can get, because it's fast running out.
(Sorry for linking practically my entire body of work in this post, by the way - I am practically namedropping myself). 

  • 9. Do you ever shut up?
I do now - arrivederci, people!

- SavingTheWorldFromMyKitchen