These days I quite often describe myself as a “recovering vegetarian”. This started mostly as a joke, but as of late I realise that I am being perfectly serious. I was once a vegetarian, and now I am finally getting over it. Thankfully.
I became vegetarian for many reasons. The main one, I admit, was probably getting a girlfriend who was vegetarian. As Samuel Jackson says in Pulp Fiction “My girlfriend’s a vegetarian, and that pretty much makes me a vegetarian too.” It was also due to an acute sense of environmental panic, starting in my teenage years, and probably an eye for what was currently fashionable in the area of fads.
But as I looked into this previously unsuspected moral labyrinth, I found many reasons to defend the avoiding of meat. And, let me tell you, from a moral, ethical, and environmental perspective in our resource-pressed world, it is tricky indeed to defeat a well-informed vegetarian in a factual argument. Really, it is.
But defeat them you can. Try asking them how we will provide fertilizer for their vegetarian crops if we don’t have farm animals to provide shit. Try asking how many small burrowing animals get killed by the soy bean harvest. And ask them if it is a good idea health-wise for omnivores to live on highly processed factory food, like those awful quorn and soya-meat things. (And no, they DON’T taste like the “real thing” so you can shut up about that right now.)
And finally ask them if we really want our ancient and proud food cultures to disappear because a few people, most of whom have never been near a farm, and most of them fundamentalists of one sort or another, get queasy when they think about killing animals who are not people, never will be people, and are in fact nothing at all like people?
Of course, eating too much meat (and by this I mean more than a few times a week) is damaging for the environment. Although most of this damage comes from our ridiculous industrial farming practices and not from the actual meat-eating itself, which is part of an elegant and perfect closed system of sunlight-food-fertiliser. Plus there is the fact that a lot of marginal land can never be used for anything other than raising animals.
This week saw the final burning of my vegetarian bridges with my introduction to the exciting world of raw meet. I was presented with a steak tartare and I wolfed it down with a silly grin. It was excellent and I mentally slapped myself on the forehead for having missed out on stuff like this for so long. What the hell was I thinking?
And here is the thing: I love meat. I bloody love it. And as I seriously and whole-heartedly re-enter the realm of the red stuff after too many years skulking on the outskirts, I am excited beyond belief. There is so much out there to try, so many astounding ways to put food together, and leaving meat out of the equation is like taking a blind guy to a 3D movie, or playing chess with David Beckham.
To be fair, I have been to Cafe Paradiso in Cork, one of Europe’s best vegetarian restaurants, and it was sublime. Good food can be made from most things, but excluding things on principal alone is no longer something I intend to do (unless the thing itself is endangered or very very boring).
So I have decided that I will eat anything, anything at all, which is considered to be food by somebody, somewhere. Grasshopper enchiladas, roasted gerbil, squirrel pancakes, dog in a basket. Whatever – just bring it on.
I must add that I know many nice vegetarians, just as I know many nice Christians and Macintosh users, 2 other philosophies I view with deep suspicion. But I am of the opinion that the philosophy and the person are different things, and that a person can disagree with me on a lot (although not everything) and still be an important friend. And I must say that I am very suspicious of people who have not updated their views of life as they grew older and learned more, since that is what living is all about.
But back to me. What I would like is to get meat that was treated properly. Not organic meat, because that’s just a load of old wank designed to get a higher price. What I am after is meat from animals that lived well and died quickly. This can indeed be found but I will admit to occasional laziness and just grab whatever is available at the local ICA.
The ideal would be to have my own animals and eat them, but that will have to wait, since I currently live in a city. But I think that hunting might be a good option – painlessly kill some animal that has lived its life outdoors, plus get to wear a kinky hat and swagger around with a gun at the same time. And what could be better than that?
Meat isn’t murder. It’s dinner. And maybe even dessert.